Trent Ernst, Editor
Present: Mayor McPherson, Councillor Mackay (Chair), Howe, Krakowka, Kirby, Scott, Caisley
Community Transition Update
Carrie Dusterhoft and Tammy Danshin, came to provide Council with an update. Dusterhoft works with communities across the province during transitional times after large scale layoffs, while Danshin works out of Fort St John. The two made a presentation in early November, but are in town again, so came to speak to the new council and answer questions. They have set up a community transition group, says Dusterhoft, and are holding meetings once a month or once every couple of weeks. They are trying to support economic diversification in town.
Councillor Howe says a lot of people have concerns around jobs training in this town around the underground mine. “They want the chance to train right now. We want to see a program started here. If you can do anything to lead us in the right direction on that, it would be absolutely beautiful for us.”
Dusterhoft says they have had that discussion already, but know that EDO Jordan Wall has been working on that. Wall says when the District went down and met with the province, a lot of what the District asked for was put on Dusterhoft and Danshin’s desk. “They’ve been working with the wind projects, with the Geopark,” says Wall. “And one of those steps is underground coal mine training. They helped us get meetings with the president of NLC, for instance.”
Mayor McPherson says that the problem, as he’s been told is Northern Lights would love to put in a program, but there’s no funding. He says the mayor’s coalition is going to be lobbying for it, but right now, that’s one of the big hold ups.
Dusterhoft says there is some funding, but they also need people to make the program viable. “They don’t want to offer the program and not have it viable.”
Mayor McPherson asks how you can have students if you don’t have a program? Dusterhoft says it’s a chicken and egg thing. “In the past they’ve put on programs and haven’t had people.”
Danshin says her understanding is they are discussing the design of the program. How would it be delivered? What would the cost of delivery be, and how can they get people to sign up to take the course? That’s still very preliminary, she says. Dusterhoft says the last she heard, the curriculum was still being translated.
Councillor Caisley says he remembers sitting in Council chambers a few years ago when the subject of HD Mining came up. He says, at the time, they said there was a curriculum that was being worked on, and it would be done in twelve months. “I don’t know who dropped the ball, but it feels like it is back into never-never land. That’s what we as a council were told. Now it’s ‘If we can get people to sign up…’” I don’t know if it is NLC, or who, but someone has dropped the ball. I don’t know what part you’d play in that. We should have them both here, because it feels like we’re just moving in circles.”
CEO Barry Elliott says he and Wall had a meeting with HD Chairman Penngui Yan earlier that day, and discussed having a meeting. “It’s just a matter of setting that up.”
He also says a few weeks ago staff had a meeting with the interim president of NLC; and communicated with them that we wanted a similar meeting.
Councillor Kirby says she was at the HD open house, and was left with the idea that right now was a little premature, because they haven’t finished the bulk sample.
Elliott agrees: “The impression I have is they aren’t interested in spending a lot of money until they have a final product.”
Mayor McPherson says the one success that Council has had is NLC is now entertaining Tumbler Ridge in the discussion around training. “That seemed to be off the table for a while there.”
Councillor Howe says Council is getting stuck on HD Mining. “There are four proposed underground mines in the area, and seven in the region. We need to remember that the training will affect them, too. If we had some sort of timeline that we could work with so we could make sure that people were trained and ready when the mines were ready…”
Councillor Mackay says the training discussion in the original proposal was a training centre would be here. He says a training complex fell off the table, but Dehua has also expressed interest.
Dusterhoft says one of the things that would be helpful for her to focus efforts would be knowing what are the priorities in the Tourism Management Plan and Geopark Plan. What are the objectives around Economic Development?
SUCCESS BY 6
Colette Ernst, Success by 6 representative, came before council to discuss what Success by 6 has been doing. “I’m the latest in a long succession of coordinators for Success by 6,” she says. “There’s been a number of coordinators who have had to leave due to what’s been happening around town.”
She says Success by 6 is a community based cross-sectoral partnership of individuals and organizations who share a common vision for the care, development, education of children ages before the age of six.
The focus of Success by 6 is maternal and child health, early intervention and support for children with disabilities, and creating a child and family friendly environment. They are also concerned with quality child care, family supports, early literacy, recreation and culture.
Basic funding comes from Success by 6, a United Way program, and Children First, which is part of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Success by 6 helps fund the Alphabits Crawl program, the Summer Reading Club, the Children’s Centre Society, the Children’s Health Fair in September and the Welcome Baby Shower, which is coming up near the end of January. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the babies that were born this year, to help parents connect with the organizations that there are in town that are there to support.”
This year, she says, Success by 6 helped pay for Professional Development for ECE workers at the daycare.
She says they have a new family friendly website: events, resources and programs in Tumbler Ridge. “If you want to know where something is, there’s a directory; if you want to know when something is happening, there is a calendar. It hooks up with the regional family friendly websites, too.”
Success by 6 also provides workshops and parenting programs. They help with Winter Carnival and Holly Jolly, the National Child Day Celebration and the Christmas Lights Bus Tour, which went really well. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the District,” Ernst says.
They help fund Storytime, Lapsit and Lego Club and are putting on a Positive Discipline training course later this month. That will be a seven week workshop. Recently, there was a Train the Trainer workshop, so now they don’t have to hire someone from out of town to lead the course. “There’s now three people in town who can offer the program,” she says. The first program starts January 27, and is being funded by School District 59. It will be two hours once a week, and six people have already signed up. “I really believe that right now with so much indecisiveness and fear in the community, giving parents encouragement and a way to encourage their kids, that’s a positive thing.”
Councillor Krakowka says he has the Success by 6 portfolio, and attended his first meeting recently. “I look forward to being a part of this for the next four year. I wonder how tough it is to connect the District site with the family friendly website?” Staff says they’ll look into it.
Councillor Caisley asks if Ernst has noticed, in terms of the tough times we’re having, a dramatic change in the number of kids that participate?
She says yes. “Each group offers reports at the meeting,” she says. “We’ve noticed there’s been a drop in numbers, starting in December. The questions is: is that caused by the time of year, or because families are leaving? The Children’s Centre Society has been struggling because there’s no demand. The library has altered their Storytime programs so it’s not conflicting with Strong Start or AlphaBits Crawl so parents don’t have to choose one or the other. We’re not competing for those kids, we want to help them in whatever way we can. We don’t want to lose momentum and energy for the kids that are there. Those kids still need something and someone.”
Not related to Success by 6, she says but she is concerned as a mother that there are programs being dropped.
Mayor McPherson says that at his home, six was a big number, because that’s when they went off to school. “Do you deal more with the kids or the parents?” he asks.
The positive discipline course is for the parents, to provide them skills, says Ernst. Some of the other programs are specifically kid-related. Welcome Baby Party and the Health and Safety Fair are for both. When we are part of the Winter Carnival, we focus on families. We support the Family Dance. We don’t want to just provide babysitting, but programs for kids. We provide support to the daycare, which is a kid only program. We provide help with the Library Club, which is a kid only program.
Councillor Howe asks where does the funding come from?
Ernst answers that part of it comes from Success by 6 program, which is through United Way, who work with the Credit Unions of BC. “I report to the United Way of Northern BC,” she says. “I also report to someone who holds the contract for the Children’s First Initiative in Northern BC. Finally, we also fund raise for ourselves. We have been granted funds from some organizations. The Tumbler Ridge Community Forest has provided funds for a Spring program. Some of that money is allotted and needs to be used every year, and some of it can be put into a fund for a single event once every few years.”
Councillor Howe asks what type of budget she works with. Ernst answers that she is a paid coordinator and a portion of the funding goes to paying her. “I hold all the balls and have to deal with all the crap. I don’t make the calls for how the funds are spent; that’s decided by the table.” Between the two funds, she says Success by 6 gets about $16,000/year, divided between capacity funds and projects, and about $6000 of that goes towards funding projects.
Councillor Mackay says he had the opportunity to sit on that board and says it is an incredible group. “They talk about the enthusiasm of the kids? The enthusiasm of that board is great.”
Councillor Howe asks if any of the groups utilize rooms 4&5? Yes, says Ernst. “Do they pay for it,” asks Howe? No, says Ernst “Perfect,” says Howe.
MINISTRY OF FORESTS, LANDS AND NATURAL RESOURCES OPERATIONS (FORWARD FROM REGULAR COUNCIL DECEMBER 16, 2014 ITEM 6.3)
Correspondence from Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, thanking the District of Tumbler Ridge for various recent meetings to discuss issues impacting Tumbler Ridge and advising that Ministry staff is available to discuss these issues further. Council wanted to discuss meetings with the Ministry and other requests to the Province. Councillor Caisley says that the next item is similar. He wants clarification on what staff is looking for.
Elliott says at the first working meeting, it was asked to move these to tonight to discuss how to respond. He say the plan going forward is to discuss what has happened in the past, and what needs to be done. Council needs to solidify their position as to what they are going to be asking for.
Councillor Howe asks when that conversation will be happening.
Elliott says February 20 is tentative discussion with the Community Development Institute, and Council will be looking at Tourism Plan, Sustainability Plan and discussions with the Ministers.
Councillor Howe asks: “Anything we want as a part of that, how should we deal with that? Should we email that to you, should we be bringing that up at the meeting? I don’t want to wait until February 20 to get going on that.” Elliott says just send it to him via email.
Elliott points out that budget discussions will be happening soon, plus a whole bunch of other things. “We have to get our ducks in a row; if we go in with a disjointed request, it’s not going to be received well. MLA Bernier says we need to take the time to develop a thorough and complete package first.”
Mayor McPherson says it seems like we’re dragging out feet, but there was Christmas and New Years in there. He tells Council that any information they need, they can get through him.
EDO Wall says one of the big things was the application to increase the cut for the Community Forest. Forestry will be coming to the Council Meeting on February 14 to discuss the status of our application.
MINISTRY OF ENERGY AND MINES – MEETING REGARDING TUMBLER RIDGE (FORWARD FROM REGULAR COUNCIL DECEMBER 16, 2014 SECTION 6.4)
Correspondence received November 14, 2014 from Dave Nikolejsin, Deputy Minister, thanking the District of Tumbler Ridge for various recent meetings to discuss the impact of mine idling on Tumbler Ridge. This was tied into the discussion above.
BYLAW NO. 454 – TRAFFIC AND THE USE OF HIGHWAYS WITHIN THE DISTRICT OF TUMBLER RIDGE
There were some questions around vehicles parked on the side of the road for extended periods of time. Councillor Krakowka asks about the parking lot behind the liquor store. Fire Chief and Chief Bylaw Officer Treit says there’s no restriction on how long you can park in that particular parking lot. “As far as enforcement, there’s nothing we can enforce. On roads it is 24 hours.”
Krakowka asks after the vehicle that’s parked up on Gwillim. Chief Treit says typically they can ask ICBC for information on the owner, but that vehicle is an Alberta vehicle, so they can’t track down the owner.
Krakowka asks if the District can tow it. Chief Treit says the District has the right, and if the owner never returns for it, we can auction it, but this is predicated on contacting the owner, which we can’t do, because it is an Alberta vehicle and they won’t tell us who the owner is.
Councillor Caisley asks where does the vehicle get towed to? Chief Treit says it gets towed to a privately owned impound lot at Megmar. He says if the District disposes of the vehicle without notifying the owner, he would be concerned about the District’s legal position, because their own bylaw says they have to notify the owner. “Again, if it were a BC vehicle, we could find out the vehicle owner through ICBC. We could put it at public works, but they’re not keen on that. We could put it in impound, at $30/day. If the owner doesn’t claim it, we’re on the hook for that.”
Elliott says the District is seeking legal council, but they haven’t heard back yet.
Mayor McPherson says normally the car isn’t worth the impound fees.
Chief Treit says if the vehicle is worth than $100, it can be disposed of, but “any car that has a set of tires on it is usually worth more than $100.”
Mayor McPherson asks if the car is damaged by a grader going past, whose responsibility is it?
Chief Treit says same as if it was legally parked; the District would be responsible for that.
Councillor Howe says this was brought up in discussion around snow clearing. “Do we need to change the bylaw?”
Elliott says it is obvious that the bylaw is not working in this situation. “Council can change it any time they wish, but we need to get it right.” He asks for some time to sort through the legal implication.
Councillor Mackay asks at what point is the vehicle considered abandoned? Chief Treit says that’s an unknown. “We can put something about that in the bylaw, but nothing is there now.”
Councillor Krakowka says there is some issue around damage that could be caused by piling snow around the vehicle, so either way it’s a problem He mentions there is a bunch of stuff behind public works and asks why the vehicle can’t go there?
Elliott replies that some of it is staff property, some of it is abandoned vehicles and stuff from Monkman RV park, but Public Works is trying to clean that area up. “That vehicle is still insured. Yes it is breaking our bylaw, but if it gets damaged, it is our fault.”
Mayor McPherson says he has seen signs in other communities where they say streets are being plowed, and any vehicles left on the street can be towed. He asks if that’s an option. Elliott says that brings them back to the bylaw. “If the bylaw said that, then yes.”
WILLOW HALL NAMING
Chief Administrator Officer to present information for Council to discuss the naming of Willow Hall Building. As council is aware, says Elliott, this issue has been on the books for quite some time. Mayor Wren was going to approach the elementary school to find a name. Does council still want to work with that process, or do you want to offer up suggestions, or do you want to just call it Willow Hall, as it has been called that for a year.
Councillor Krakowka says he wants to consider naming it in honour of a family that has done a lot for this community.
Mayor McPherson says he has no problem with Willow Hall, but he likes Councillor Krakowka’s idea.
Councillor Howe says it should be going back to the school. “I totally dislike the name Willow Hall”.
If you wish to have Mayor McPherson approach the school, says Elliott, that can happen. Councillor Howe says he has two kids in the school system, and this is the first he’s heard of it, and suggests sending it to TRSS and TRE.
Councillor Mackay says it was done that way in the past, but there was no response. Elliott suggests setting a time limit. He’ll make a phone call to the school to see if there’s still interest.
Tumbler Ridge Senior Secondary Letter
Council received a letter from the school. Elliott has spoke with Northern Health around this. He says they said this work more appropriately falls under the scope of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. The Ministry is developing a plan to offer those same services, with no changes. There is a glitch, but it really is just a shuffling of responsibility from one agency to another.
Councillor Krakowka says when the mines closed last time, we lost these services, I don’t want to see that happen again.
Mayor McPherson asks if there is any timeline?
Elliott says he hasn’t heard anything.