February 23, 2009

Welcome, everyone, to the first edition of Council?s Corner. Keeping you, our residents, informed is a key priority for every member of our Council and we all thought that an occasional article in the local news paper to bring you up to speed would complement the other initiatives we will be undertaking to inform and involve our community, as we move Tumbler Ridge forward, over the next three years.

It?s hard to believe that we are already three months into our elected mandate.?Time really does fly by when you are enjoying what you are doing!? Everyone on Council is making a concerted effort to recognize and acknowledge the viewpoints and hard work of each fellow Council-member. We are working hard as a team and looking for ways to explore and produce effective solutions for our community.

Debate is strong but healthy. Creative discussion on important issues is stretching Council?s perspective and is bringing us all closer to the right decisions and desired outcomes. We also want to acknowledge our Mayor who has nurtured an environment where each council-member is respected and encouraged to share ideas and express points of view. We shake hands before meetings and we leave the same way. Town Staff has also been very accommodating and helpful with council?s questions and we thank each of them for their patience and guidance.

Well, we hit the ground running and have had a lot of things to do. The seminars in both Ft. St. John and Vancouver for ?Newly Elected Officials? in January were very informative as they helped to clarify our understanding of the roles and responsibilities of Council members and clarified the roles for Staff as well. To say that we learned a lot is an understatement. There was a significant amount of information to incorporate and we all were in learning sessions from the early morning hours well into each evening. These seminars were carefully crafted to deal with the major issues and potential pitfalls a Council will have to confront and address in order to ensure that the municipality and its residents are properly benefitted by council?s efforts and actions. Even experienced council members noted the benefits of reviewing these important issues.

We met newly elected members of council from a variety of municipalities throughout BC and had a chance to peek into their towns and related challenges. We were heartened to see that their challenges are not so different than ours. There are many similarities and common issues facing municipalities throughout the province. It seems we are all looking for innovative ways to improve infrastructure, encourage local business development, increase tourism, and generally make the quality of life as favorable as possible for all our residents. We are all in this big bowl of soup, together!

Comments from Councillor McManus

I recently attended a presentation of the TR Museum Foundation to the North Peace Economic Development Association, with Mayor White and Rich McRae. I have to give Rich credit for a very captivating presentation. Evidence of dinosaur track-ways and bone beds are starting to show up in several areas throughout BC?s – Peace River Region and dino-excitement is starting to grow outside of our municipality. With a museum and paleontology research center in Tumbler Ridge, we are poised to become ?THE DESTINATION? in British Columbia where the best, most up-to-date dinosaur research information is archived and where the most comprehensive inventory of dinosaur bones and track-ways are stored. Rich McRae, Lisa Buckley, and a host of very dedicated volunteers are working tirelessly to make that a reality. They need all the support we can give them!

A lot of time has been consumed with the upcoming budget and setting priorities for council and staff for the next three years. Strategic Planning Sessions were held last weekend and council and staff worked collaboratively to establish realistic goals and objectives for our town?s future.

Together, we are all working hard to get things right and will look forward to important feedback from our residents, once the budget information is presented to our community for review.

The Terms of Reference are starting to take shape for the different Standing Committees and I am heading up the Arts, Culture and Recreation Standing Committee. I am seeking out two energetic representatives from our community to become members on the committee and to participate in its function. I have been approached by a few community minded citizens already and would like to invite all those residents who are interested in participating on the committee to review the Terms of Reference at Town Hall and if you are still interested, please let me know. Given the scope of the committee I believe it will be helpful to have one representative for Arts and Culture and another for Recreation. I will look forward to hearing from you then. I would like to be able to select two residents by March 15, 2009, in order to get the committee up and running.

·Next Councilor?s Comments

·Comments from Councillor Schembri

One might think that being the only woman on Council would be a bit of a challenge, but I am happy to report that I am thoroughly enjoying working with this Council. The respect that is shown is inspiring, and although there is healthy discussion, it is respectful.

The terms of reference for the Protective Services standing committee are complete and I too would like to encourage all interested parties to stop by town hall and peruse the document. If you are interested in being a part of this committee, please let me know. This committee is going to be looking at all issues that fall under the protective services umbrella.

Comments from Councillor McPherson  

First I would like to say how proud I am being voted in as part of this council. In just three months I have been impressed with the hard work and dedication shown by my fellow councillors and mayor. Council and staff are working together and in my view have formed the strongest team that I have been part of in the seven years that I have been on council.

I have been given the position of council liaison with the library. I have attended two meetings first of which was the AGM where a thirteen member executive was voted in. I look forward to working with the library executive conveying their issues to council.

Environmental Health is the standing committee I have been made chair of. I will be looking for a couple of interested citizens to sit on this committee if you are interested please let me know.  

Comments from Councilor Beale

Since being elected to council it has been a very busy and rewarding experience for me so far and I look forward to serving the needs of all our residents. We as a community have to look at what needs to be done to remain strong and viable and I firmly believe that our current Council has what it takes to move our community ahead. We have had some tough decisions to discuss and debate and we have always come to an agreeable solution. It has been an eye-opener with the current budget discussions with the state of our infrastructure and the prospect of going into debt and after hours of discussion and debate we are unanimous with the decisions that must be made for the betterment of our community. I am also pleased that we have key positions within our District staff filled with experienced and competent employees that will help move our community forward. I will keep my comments short for now but I encourage all our residents to participate in discussion, committees and everything that our community offers.

comments from Councillor Mackay

If the past three months is any indication of the next three years I feel privileged to serve with this council. Together we have shown we can engage in strong and healthy debates and at the end of the day depart with a bond that strengthens with each issue we face. To date we have had numerous issues to resolve, some of which are the 2009–2013 Municipal Budget, and Strategic planning sessions which chart our goals and strategies. We have touched on such items as Roles and Responsibilities, Municipal Governance and have now established Terms of Reference for the various Standing Committees. I will be responsible for Government Services: Policies and Bylaws, Land use issues, Public Relations, Municipal Grants and Aid, etc.

This term of office promises to be very challenging and council will be seeking your input and counting on your support for the difficult decisions we face. We have recently witnessed the need to have an emergency plan in place that is clearly understood by everyone with an appropriate facility to accommodate the needs of a community the size of Tumbler Ridge. I would like to express my appreciation to the Staff at Town Hall for the assistance we receive on any item we require information for.

In closing I would like to remind everyone we have Regular Meetings on the 1 st and 3rd Mondays and Policy and Priority Meetings on the 2nd and 4m Monday of eacgh each

Closing Comments From Council

We sincerely hope you that we have given you a bit of a snap-shot into what Council has been up to these past few months and we look forward to using this format to keep you up-to-date as we move forward.

Respectfully Yours,

Municipal Council

District of Tumbler Ridge