Policies and Priorities Meeting: February 10, 2015

Trent Ernst, Editor


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


Tumbler Ridge RCMP Detachment

See story HERE.

Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Dale Morgan from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations came before council to discuss the requested increase in Annual Allowable Cut for the Community Forest.

He begins by outlining the current Timber Supply review. He says that the current review was completed last year. The previous one was about eight or nine years ago. Under the Forest Act, the Chief Forester must determine the maximum amount of wood that can be harvested in each of the province’s 38 timber supply areas and 34 tree farm licences at least once every 10 years he says.

The Chief Forester comes up with the total Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) that can be harvested sustainably in the Dawson Creek Timber Supply Area (TSA). Her recommendation is 1.8 million cubic feet (mcf) per year, which is basically the same level it has been since 2003.

Timber processing facilities located within the Dawson Creek TSA include the Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd. oriented strand-board (OSB) mill in Dawson Creek, the Canadian Forest Products Ltd. sawmill in Chetwynd, and the Chetwynd Forest Industries (a Division of West Fraser Mills Ltd.) sawmill in Chetwynd. In addition, West Fraser is building a biomass heat recovery power plant, expected to be completed by the end of the year. And last year, the Paper Excellence Group acquired Tembec Inc.’s Chetwynd pulp mill and plans on re-opening the mill, which has been closed since September 2012.

He says that the forest is doing pretty good in this region, which is why the AAC is staying where it is. There was some issue with pine beetle, but the fibre supply is very good, considering that some places farther south had decreases in their AAC. Community forests are not part of the Timber Supply Review, says Morgan.

The next step, he says, is to apportion the AAC to the companies that are currently operating in the region.

Once that is done, there is usually some volume left over. During the previous review, Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd were both granted Community Forests based on this extra volume. But these can also be apportioned to wood lots, which have grown from 58 to 70. A woodlot grants the license holder exclusive rights to manage and harvest timber within the license area.

The Tumbler Ridge Community Forest is requesting an extra 30,000 cubic metres of timber each year, but currently, Morgan can’t speak to what the Minister will decide, as the decision has to take into account the other requests from woodlot owners, First Nations, etc.

The process will take about five months to complete, he says. “There is volume available and I think once we make licences whole, we will add to community forest and we will allot some to First Nations.”

Councillor Scott asks how Forest Fires affect this process. Morgan says the fires last year were outside the community forest. As for the Timber Supply Area as a whole, they do keep track of the first and measure and analyze the impacts of fires on the forest.

Some of that timber can be logged, as was the case with the logging that happened after the Hourglass Fire, but, he says, that wood is only good for about two years. All the trees still standing after the Hourglass Creek fire will be left to natural processes. “This is a fire dominated ecosystem,” says Morgan. “We have massive fires, and that is factored into decision making. When we say 1.8 million cf, that’s factoring in things like the Red Willow Creek fire.”

Mayor McPherson asks about partnering with First Nations. Morgan says it’s a great thing when it happens. He points to the community forest in Chetwynd, which is a partnership between Chetwynd and the West Moberly and Saulteaux First Nations. That’s the ideal opportunity, says Morgan, but in the case of Tumbler Ridge, “you are a ways away from any of these communities. Just partnering because you want to isn’t a bad idea, but it takes two willing partners: equal partners with equal interest.”

Duncan McKellar, Operations Manager for the Tumbler Ridge Community Forest, asks about the six or eight weeks that was mentioned in the response letter.

Morgan says that they are slowing the process down. “We want to make sure we are making these decisions legally and defensibly. We also have to reevaluate how we make our decisions.” He says this is in light of a recent legal case between the Province and First Nations down south. As well, he says, there have been a lot of people retiring recently. “It’s amazing how many people are leaving right now.”

McKellar says the Community Forest is asking for the uplift to make the business case viable. “We don’t want to have a big business but we want to have some business,” he says. “I Don’t think 20,000 is enough, which is why we asked for 50,000 total.

Tumbler Ridge Community Forest

Duncan McKellar, Operations Manager for the Tumbler Ridge Community Forest appears before council to brief the new Council on the Community Forest and update Council on what the Community Forest is working on.

He says that the Community Forest has harvested 105,000 cubic metres so far, with another 115,000 planned for 2015. This is well above the Community Forest’s 22,000 cubic feet allowed annually, because they have been awarded 300,000 cubic meters in beetle kill.

He wants to provide council with an update on golf course block. Because of the requirements to replant this area, as well as to chip the wood, alongside the decision to selectively log the area, the Community Forest will actually be losing money here, somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000. “It will look nice, though,” says McKellar. “And we aren’t doing it to make money. I’ve heard some people say that’s why we’re doing this, and I wanted to put those rumours to rest. It’s a dying stand, and we’re doing this for Wildfire Mitigation.”

Mayor McPherson asks about cemetery area, as it is connected to the Golf Course area and suffers from similar problems. McKellar says there is a line there between land that is within the Community Forest and land that is within the town, but if it makes sense to do it, they will take a look at it. “The main thing is to get rid of fire hazard.”

Councillor Krakowka asks about wildfire grant. McKellar says there’s a lot of issues with that. “These projects have to be revenue neutral and the proponent, ie the town, has to put money on table. It is not beneficial for the town to do it.”

Councillor Howe says this is the first he’s heard that they are going to lose money. “In my mind we should leave it. I don’t understand why we don’t sell the land to someone who will build down there.”

McKellar says it’s not the harvesting that’s the problem. “The loss will happen because I have to chip it and replant it.” This requirement is because the land is part of the Community Forest; if it were town land, it wouldn’t have to be replanted.

This area has been proposed for developing houses, says Howe. Why doesn’t the Community Forest just log the area, then the town buy the land to sell to developers. This would be difficult, says Dale Morgan, and a lengthy process, but it might be do-able. Howe says he ran on getting residential industrial lots. That’s a prime example of places where people would want to build. “I think of the land on the way to Quintette where they went in and logged it and tried to sell it and people said if you would have left the trees, we would love it, but now…”

“We’re not going to make it a clear cut,” says McKellar. “I think it’s a good piece of property. We are going to leave aspen and young spruce.”

Councillor Krakowka says he’s not a big fan of chipping. McKellar agrees, though not for the same reason. “The less chipping I can do, the better,” he says. “I learned from the last time. But the focus has to be on fire prevention.”

Mayor McPherson says that he talked to the Ministry about the idea of the District not buying the land outright, but preparing the lots and selling them directly to developers for the Provincial Government. “They didn’t say no,” he says.


Renewal of Arts Council lease

The District has leased rooms 2 and 3 since 1993 for the cost of $1/year. Their previous lease expired on December 1, 2014. The proposal is to renew the lease for the next three years, and has come before Council now to discuss any issues.

Councillor Krakowka asks around the issue of storage space at the Community Centre. Aleen Torraville, Administrative Services Manager says there’s been issues around storage space in the Community Centre for years, but until there’s a full-time manager over there, it won’t be solved.

Mayor McPherson says the rationale for this was because they wanted to see people using the Community Centre.

Councillor Mackay agrees, but he’s not sure the space should be used for storage. The mayor responds by saying they are a non-profit and they need props and lights for their shows. “They don’t charge a lot for their performances.”

Councillor Howe points out that he pays over $84 for a locker in the hockey hallway and that’s only for hockey season. “There are storage issues. They’re putting the chairs in the arena and chaining them up so they don’t fall on any kids.”

Town Hall Meetings

The mayor wants to see there being more town hall meetings. He suggests three meetings a year, including the budget meeting. “These are open meetings. I’d like to see a bylaw saying we have to have these meetings. I spoke to Barry, and he wants to see a policy but that isn’t as strict as a bylaw.”

Councillor Krakowka asks around the proposed format. They mayor says the model they’ve used recently where there are stations with each Councillor at the station for the portfolio they look after. “I find people are more comfortable being able to talk to Councillors one on one.”

Krakowka says he is totally in support of the idea.

“Every Council says they want to do more meetings,” says the mayor. “But then things get going and it’s the easiest thing to let slide. If you do it by bylaw it has to happen.”

Councillor Kirby says she likes the idea.

Councillor Howe says it’s a great idea, but it should be done quarterly. He says they should have had some sort of meeting after the wind announcement and tag teamed it. Or do something around a major event like Grizfest.

A number of councillors like the idea of quarterly, but the mayor points out that not a lot happens in summer. He asks Torraville what the difference would be between bylaw and policy. She says that a bylaw is a law. “Things happen and life happens and then you are in contravention of your own bylaw,” she says, pointing out that a policy would probably be a lot easier. And it would continue from council to council. Councillor Mackay points out that with the last council, it fell off the table because they were meeting with developers every week. It became difficult.

Staff will draft a policy, but Torraville points out they don’t have to have that in place to have a town hall meeting.

Councillor Howe suggests the meetings not happen in council chamber but at the conference centre, even the budget meeting, which has traditionally been held in chambers.

Fleet Operations Policy Amendment

The PW8 Fleet Operations Policy has been in place since 1995. Operations Manager Doug Beale is proposing a series of amendments to the policy to enhance safety and training.

Councillor Krakowka says there are a number of vehicles that are used by staff all the time. He’s wondering if these rules will apply to the vehicles when they are parked in a person’s driveway. Torraville says Beale is not present and cannot speak to the matter, but she thinks that yes, they would.

Canada Winter Games

Tumbler Ridge will have an activation space at the Canada Winter Games, Feb 20-22. EDO Jordan Wall needs to know how many people are planning on attending so they can pre-approve expenses at the February 18 Council meeting.

Council Delegations List

Jordan Wall has created a list of delegations that Council has requested to appear before them, and is looking for additions and changes. The list includes wind energy developers like Boralex, Brookfield, EDF and Pattern, mining companies like HD, AngloAmerican, Walter and Dehua, groups like Northern Lights Collage, CNRL, The Museum Foundation, the Geopark Committee, NDIT and Destinations BC. Suggestions for additions include BC Hydro, West Moberly First Nations, Capital Power, Glencore and CN Rail.

Pool Shut Down

Councillor Krakowka suggested that the issue of the pool shutdown be added during his report at the last council meeting. He is concerned as to why it happens at this time. Torraville says it is mandatory. He says yes, but it seems like this would be a busy time. He suggests the shutdown happen in the fall, because it probably wouldn’t be as busy. Torraville says this is historically the lowest usage time. “Fall is when swimming lessons start, school classes start coming, moms start swimming again,” she says. Councillor Howe wonders if it has to do with the weather, or possibly when the pool guy comes up to this area. Aleen says that, during this shutdown, they are planning on changing the system from saline to chlorine.


Family ATV Park

Gordie Graham sent a letter suggesting that Council consider a Family ATV Park between the Flatbed Campground and the town. Mayor McPherson thinks it’s a great idea, as does most of the council. The mayor suggests going down and taking a look at the area someday in spring. Councillor Kirby says she likes the idea of expanding the Flatbed area and giving people more things to do close to town. The discussion changes to issues around accessing the race track area, as there is no legal way for ATVers to cross Flatbed. There is some discussion of an ATV bridge over the creek.

Discussion Items

Golden Shovel Program

Councillor Kirby says she came across this idea and is wondering if it would work for Tumbler Ridge. The idea is to start a program to recognize people who help people out informally by shoveling driveways and other acts of kindness. In other communities, they will get a letter from the mayor, a keychain and something like a facility pass. In other communities, this is called the Snow Angel program but, as the mayor points out, that name is already in use.

Councillor Howe suggests tying it in with the Geopark, but Councillor Kirby says it should be a town hall initiative to celebrate volunteers.

Mayor McPherson says that there needs to be a less winter-y name for the program, so it can be used year long. Councillor Mackay suggests that they also need to do something to enhance the volunteer appreciation day.

Off Road Vehicle Bylaw

With the province bringing their ATV legislation into effect later this year, the District will be passing their ATV bylaw, which had received its first three readings back in August of last year. The District’s new bylaw aligns itself closely with the Province’s bill, but there needs to be a few changes so it is totally in alignment with the new laws.

Councillor Howe mentions he has talked to Gordie Graham, who pointed to a few areas on the map where there needs to be a few corrections.

Skyline Ziplines

Councillor Kirby says she has been in contact with Skyline Ziplines around what it would cost to set up a zipline in the Tumbler Ridge area. “I get excited about tourism,” she says. “And a zipline would be an anchor for the adrenaline junkies coming to Tumbler Ridge.”

She says Skyline has a strong portfolio, and can help with branding, marketing, etc. She says the big cost in a zipline is building the towers. It would cost $5900 for them to come to town and do an evaluation and find out if it could be viable in Tumbler Ridge.

Mayor McPherson says they’re great. He points out the new grant writer has just started and can start looking for grants to support a development like this. He says that the rest of the region is expecting Tumbler Ridge to start doing things like this as part of the Geopark. He thinks it’s a great idea.

Councillor Howe agrees. His concern, though, is that it shouldn’t be something the town gets involved in. He says they should do everything they can to evaluate the idea and get it to a point where someone could build a business, but he doesn’t want the town to have to eat the cost on it. Councillor Krakowka agrees.

Councillor Kirby says she feels this is something the District would have to do, at least to get it built and then lease it out.

The mayor says he wants to talk to the Skyline people, and thinks that the cost of getting them in for an evaluation is well worth it.

Councillor Krakowka suggests bringing it to the next regular meeting to vote on bringing in the folks to do the evaluation.

Councillor Howe says he’s still worried about this being tied to the District. If something went wrong, he says, he doesn’t want Tumbler Ridge to be known as the place where they had that Zipline fail.

Councillor Scott says the feasibility study is a no brainer, but she doesn’t think the District should be getting into business and competing with other tourism operators.