October 11 Policies and Priorities Meeting

Trent Ernst, Editor

Present: Councillor Kirby (Chair,) Mayor McPherson, Councillors Caisley, Scott, Mackay



Correspondence received from Mike Morris, MLA, Prince George – Mackenzie announcing that registration opened on September 19, 2016 for the Premier’s Natural Resource Forum being held January 31 – February 2, 2017. Mayor McPherson says someone normally attends this, as it’s one of the better ones. Councillor Kirby suggests this year more than two councillors might want to go. Councillor Caisley says he’d be interested in going. Wonders if it would be possible to send any of the councillors who are interested. CAO Jordan Wall suggests they can have what it would cost per councillor for next meeting.



Correspondence received October 3, 2016 from Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Minister Responsible for Translink regarding ride sourcing issues in BC.


Councillor Scott says there is an Imagine Grant available, that they would like to pursue. They want the proceeds to focus on youth. They got a grant a few years back that focused on men’s needs, this one will focus on youth. Proposes that $3000 from Healthy Communities’ $5000 budget go towards that. Wall will forward a notice of motion to next Council meeting. Councillor Kirby suggest the Ride Sourcing issue should be forwarded to Healthy Communities.


UBCM 2016

During the UBCM Conference Council met with a number of Provincial Ministries. The discussions during this conference may help shape Council’s strategic priorities. Mayor says council should look at the five items and determine what they should be doing right away.

He suggests sending a letter to Regional District requesting assistance with upgrade to boat launch. He also suggests sending a letter to Ministry of Environment. Wall says letter has been sent.

He spoke to head of Destination BC to promote the Geopark, as well as Bruce White in Tourism branch; they are sending someone to facilitate visioning session.

He says the Ministry of Mines knew nothing about the CN Rail issue when he talked to them. He has been contacted by four mayors and two area reps to help. “We’ve got lots of backing on this,” he says. “But there is probably going to be some travel involved.” He says he is going to ask for blanket travel approval. He says he doesn’t like coming to meeting after the fact, but this is important to the town.

Councillor Kirby says she spoke to Mayor Ackerman in Airport, she says, who suggested finding a paper trail around whose responsibility is the upkeep of the rail?

Councillor Scott asks if town has a letter of intent from Conuma as to how long they will be working. CN says they don’t want to fire up the railway if it is only going to be used for a few months. “Is there any commitment?”

Mayor says Ridley Island just gave Conuma a three year moratorium. “They were quite upset that CN took this stance.”

Wall says the District wants to make sure CN opens the line up. “We need to put pressure on CN,” he says. “Like the mayor said, there are a number of stakeholders in this: the port, the mines, and CN. Right now we are talking to everybody to get all the stakeholders in place so when we get the price on what it will cost to fix it. The pieces are all in place, just waiting for the starter’s pistol, which is what it will cost to fix.”

On a different topic, Councillor Scott asks about government’s plan to add up to 75 stops to Points of Interest program. She’s wondering if there are any Tumbler Ridge area places that should be added.

Mayor says the positive takeaway from UBCM was the North East coalition showed a lot of strength. “I can see it from two sides. The Regional District should be able to do this, but they haven’t, so we might want to look at rejoining.”

Councillor Mackay says he asked about wind power, and got a straight up no, which was kind of refreshing.

Councillor Kirby says she sat down with Chetwynd councillors to talk to them about shared interests, like Gwillim Lake being closed in fall, and residential lots.

Councillor Caisley says the small talk forum was interesting, and suggests next year, the District could put together something.

UBCM asked for ORV policy would be withdrawn, says the mayor, as there are changes afoot. “They are trying to make it so the detachment is not handing out individual certificates to people.”


Council accepts the proposal from the Tumbler Ridge Lions Club to operate the Concession located downstairs in the Community Centre for the amount of $1.00 for the 2016 – 2017 ice season. Staff will bring forward a recommendation at the next Regular Meeting of Council for formal Council approval for the District of Tumbler Ridge to enter into a lease agreement with the Lions Club to operate the concession space for the 2016-2017 ice season.

Mayor says they do a good job, and while a dollar per year isn’t what the District wants, right now this is the option.

Wall says this did go out to a public offering, and this was the only respondent.

All in favour.


Council is considering an agreement whereby the contractor would enter into a Lease Agreement with the District, paying the District a monthly lease fee. The District would continue to maintain the grounds, buildings etc, while the contractor would be responsible to maintain his/her own financial records.



Drainage issues, and underground stream. There are three geotechnical reports. All three reports recommend natural climate not be disturbed. What staff is recommending is to stop development up there as it can cause significant damage. If problems arise, it will be up to the people to figure it out.

Areas that have problems now, it wasn’t clear there would be problems in the past. Underground streams can change. If Council isn’t going to agree with it is.

Mayor moves for moratorium.

Councillor Scott asks what happens to places that already have development like retaining wall? They are grandfathered in. If someone wants to spring for their own engineering, will we allow them to go ahead?

That’s what we’re trying to decide. It’s staff’s recommendation no.

“Could they draw us into legal action?” Asks Scott.

Wall says Council has the ability to regulate these things. “In Canada, if you have regulatory power, people cannot sue you as long as there is a basis for action. We have these three reports that give us a basis for action.”

Councillor Kirby says most of the residents have already done work, done the damage. So we’re just going to put a stop to it? Right now, the way it sits, we are under no legal obligation, right?

That is correct, says Wall. “Whatever path the District takes, we are not liable.”

Ken Klikach says the reason for this is people have asked to put in garages and retaining walls. “Under the building code, you can only have a four foot retaining wall,” he says. “The biggest problem I’ve come across is I haven’t been able to give them an answer or a permit. If I issue a permit with these reports being available, then I put the District in a liable position. Whatever way you choose, it’s to help govern those type of issues. We need something that says a definite yes or no that says we allow it or we don’t allow it. Right now, the building inspector is in a dire position.”

Councillor Kirby asks what issues there have been. Klikach says every year the District winds up with three or four feet of ice on the road in Sukunka because someone has tried to solve the issue of drainage themselves.

Where we would get into liability, says Wall, is if we tried to go fix this. What does this Council think is best for the residents or the community? Do you want to step in to prevent conflict? Do you want to have a hands-off, wild west approach?

Kirby asks if permits were issued for retaining walls and garages that are up there? No, says Klikach.

Kirby says if they go and get the geotechnical done, the liability falls on them, right? Mayor says District would still have to issue a permit, and if this goes through, that wouldn’t happen. Wall says the liability falls on the builder, but if they were to abandon the property, it could fall on the District.

Councillor Scott asks if the building inspector has this information, can he not just use this information? “Do we have to put a moratorium on it?” Wall says yes, because there’s nothing there right now. “There’s nothing in the bylaws that says they can’t.”

Kirby says she’s worried about the homeowners that aren’t affected by the ground water issues, but might be affected by this bylaw. “You’re not going to make everyone happy, but down the road, this could be the best thing to do.”

Motion carried.


Councillor Caisley asks what an appropriate time frame is, and what the District’s buyback policy is. That happens in discussion with landowner, says Wall. “That’s not usually an issue. If they have started development, they are moving forward. If nothing is done it just reverts back to District.”

Look at what town has to offer, says Councillor Kirby, maybe the District needs to take it to social media, so when everything is ready to go, people are already lined up. “Just putting it up for sale on website doesn’t work. We need to get fresh ideas. Get exciting with it.”

Councillor Mackay says we need to work with local Realtors more. “With us it’s just kind of sitting there; they have more incentive to get out there and hustle.”

Councillor Scott says the District runs into trouble with Fair Market Value. “People look at us compared to Chetwynd and whatnot. She is wondering if District could have a land sale and stay under what other towns do. Wall says Fair Market Value is set, and the District can’t play with those numbers. Scott asks if District can talk to the people who set those values?

“Whatever we take below Fair Market Value needs to be made up in what those businesses can provide,” says Wall.

“This is the time we need to grow,” says Councillor Kirby, “so that we come out of this ready to go.”

Wall says Council has set out a very good path forward: wind, tourism, forestry. Had community forest expanded. Have SOP projects in wind, new VIC, the geopark. “On land sales, the province is getting into this to make sure communities are investment ready. By the end of next year, we are going to be right at the top,” he says. “On every single issue we are making progress. Saying we need to bring someone in to take a look at your land sales policy, we’ve already done that. If there is a mother metric that council wants us to look at great, but we are going to be on top of the Province’s metric soon.

Mayor agrees the town is moving in the right direction, but it’s also good to step back and look at what we’re missing.

“ I feel we need to do something different,” says Councillor Kirby.

Councillor Mackay says one of the things the town did well was the hotel. “We did sell for a dollar, but got usage of conference centre.”

Councillor Scott says danger with partnerships is putting existing businesses at a disadvantage. She would be interested if person were to come up to discuss investment ready program and requirements. Councillor Kirby asks if it could be done by webinar or something. She worries that by the time they came up, building season will be over.

Wall says this was a good discussion, but he’s still not sure what direction council wants to go; what the pain points are.

It’s marketing, says Councillor Kirby.

Councillor Scott says District Website needs to be updated with what’s available.

Wall says at the end of this, they want to have information listed on website. Staff wants to work with Realtors, because they are the ones that will benefit, he says. “We need to firm up policy on how to work with Realtors. Any piece of land the District wants to sell needs to be approved by Council Motion.” The plan should be ready for summer of 2017.

Councillor Caisley asks if marketing is the real reason the District is not selling land in Tumbler Ridge. “Why would people want to buy here if there’s nothing happening?

Kirby says she just wants Council to be sure that they are marketing correctly.

Mayor suggests setting up a meeting with Realtors, as they are the ones selling the land.

Councillor Mackay points out that the industrial site used to have 75 to 100 people out there working. That’s evaporated in the last few years. He wonders what can be done to revitalize.


Council picked out new chairs for council chambers. The current chairs are losing pneumatic pressure when sat in, says the mayor.