Policies and Priorities Meeting, September 10, 2014

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

Present Councillors Leggett (chair) Mackay, Snyder, Caisley and McPherson

DELEGATIONS     

PNG(NE) GAS LTD. – 2014 RATE INCREASES

Janet Kennedy, VP Regulatory & Gas Supply and Graeme Doak, VP Human Resources & Government Affairs, to provide an explanation for the 2014 residential rate increases in Tumbler Ridge. See story next week.

CANADIAN NATURAL RESOURCES LTD. UPDATE

Dwayne Werle, Landman, to provide an update on Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) industrial activity and community involvement in the Tumbler Ridge area. Werle says that CNRL recently purchased Devon and Apache. Councillor Leggett says, knowing that CNRL has had significant expansion recently, Council is interested to know what their intentions are moving forward and what they have been doing here in the community.

Werle says that, other than acquisitions, there has not been a lot of activity.  They are working on three pipelines in Noel, and one abandonment, but other than that, they are at a status quo.

2014 was turnaround year, he says. Currently, there are ten people who work for CNRL who live in Tumbler Ridge, as well as 28 contractors, including Avalanche Trucking, TR Maintenance, etc. Over the last year, the company has donated to the curling rink, minor hockey, museum, snowmobile club and school for field trip. Werle says if council has any specific plans, they should contact the community investment people in Calgary.

Councillor McPherson says every council he has been on has thought they should be more connected with oil and gas and forestry. “We haven’t done as good a job as we should have,” he says. “But if there is anything we can work with you on in the future, let us now.”

Werle says that the Tumbler Ridge area is a core area for the company. “We are going to be here for a long time.”

That said, the company is not really busy in the community. He says that right now, there’s a lot of work happening in Dawson to build infrastructure, but here the company already has that in place. “Not a lot of manpower is required now,” he says.

REPORTS

WAPITI COAL PROJECT

Council discussed a draft resolution in support of Canadian Dehua International Mines Group’s work to facilitate the extension of power and rail lines that are critical to their intention to develop a large metallurgical coal mine within the District of Tumbler Ridge and is requesting the District’s assistance to help. Councillor Mackay says this comes out of one of the meetings they had in Vancouver a few weeks ago. The biggest issue the proposal is facing is that it is 42 km from railhead. “If they can’t get the road built, it would mean over a thousand trips a day on highway 52,” says Mackay. “It wouldn’t hold up to that.”

He says there is two billion tonnes of mineable coal in the area, and the plan is to mining ten to 12 million tonnes per year (Mta). The proposed new mine would employ 650 to 700 employees, and could be financially viable now. Mackay says he wants to bring forward a resolution of support the next meeting.

Councillor McPherson points out this had been discussed previously, and at the time it was mentioned that shipping via Grande Prairie might be easier.

Mackay says that, if the railway is built, they would open up the line to other users, even though, as proposed, the cost would be borne entirely by Dehua.

The project is facing a number of hurdles, but this is the big one, says Mackay. “From what they say, if they can clear this hurdle they want to come.”

CAO Barry Elliott says that it looks like the rail line would go right through the Airport. EDO Jordan Wall says it’s a very crude map. “They can’t get approval until they map it, and they can’t map it without approval.”

For now, they are just asking for support. Council appears amiable, and a motion will be brought forward for next meeting.

CORRESPONDENCE

UBCM 2014 BREAKFAST – OFFICIAL OPPOSITION

Mayor and Council have been invited to a breakfast being hosted by the Official Opposition on Friday, September 26th, during UBCM 2014.

SUCCESS BY 6 AND CHILDREN FIRST

Mayor and Council have been invited to the Annual Children’s Health & Safety Fair being held from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, September 17, 2014, Tumbler Ridge Community Centre. They have also extended an invitation to Mayor and Council to attend the monthly meetings which are held on the first Wednesday of each month, 12:00 – 2:00 pm at the Tumbler Ridge Public Library. Councillor Snyder says he talked to the coordinator after winter carnival meeting and she asked who was supposed to be coming to the regular meetings. Elliott says that it’s not part of official portfolio. Councillor Mackay said if no one is interested, he would go. Councillor Snyder suggests he would be interested as well.

COMMUNITY PARAMEDICINE

Correspondence was received from the Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia to introduce Council to an innovative, patient and community centered healthcare concept.  Council wants to set up a meeting.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

MURRAY RIVER BOAT LAUNCH – EXPANSION PLAN   

Staff provided a template for a plan for the Murray River Boat Launch. Don says we should submit the plan, as it doesn’t have to be final, just show intent. Barry says there are a couple areas the local recreation officer is  interested in setting up campsites, including the boat launch and Quality Lake.

“All we would be doing at this point is starting to get use of property,” says Elliott. “Once we had that then we would deal with the specifics. This is a placeholder. Shows what you want there. Some camping. Some parking. A boat launch. Show you’re not putting in an arena, but a boat launch.”

Councillor Leggett says he is interested. He says he read the final tourism report, and one of the things he took out of that was the fact that most of the camping was well outside of town, and he is interested in seeing camping closer to town.

This would cater to the river boaters, says Councillor Mackay. But usage by them has increased dramatically over the last five years. He says it is worth investigating.

ALDRICH PEARS – DRAFT REPORT FOR THE MUSEUM OF TUMBLER RIDGE

AldrichPears draft report for the Museum of Tumbler Ridge dated March 2014, proposing two scenarios. The first is to keep the museum where it is. The second is to separate the museum from the Peace Region Paleontological Research Centre and build a museum wing at the new Visitor Centre. This is the recommended option by AldrichPears.

Council McPherson thinks, with the geopark decision coming down, it is something we could get into after the geopark decision. He also says he though that council had decided not to go for the idea of an addition to the VIC.

Councillor Mackay says that one thing needed  is Provincial support. “They are conspicuous by their absence.” He says that Alberta is top down, and we are bottom up, but the Province is a necessity in this.

Councillor McPherson asks if the geopark would give the District some leverage? Councillor Mackay says that remains to be seen.

Councillor Snyder says he’s optimistic, as MLA Mike Bernier is fighting for Tumbler Ridge. “We didn’t have that before.”

“You look at what doctor Helm showed us tonight,” says Councillor McPherson. “If that stuff were on that side of Prince George, there’d be no problem. But on this side of the mountains, it’s a tough sell.”

Councillor Leggett says it is inevitable that we get the geopark. But even if we don’t, he says there are some synergies with the new Currie Museum in Grande Prairie. “How do we make what we have as visitor friendly as possible?” he asks. “We need to have something on par, or even better, or else it will make for a disappointing visit.”

Councillor Caisley says whether we get the Geopark or not, the District is paying for the research. “I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the enthusiasm. It will make a great addition, but in terms of having hordes of people that’s a long term thing. It will take a while. We have committed to the museum to provide funding until we make a decision as to what we want to see with the museum. If we don’t get the okay for the geopark, we’ll apply for it next year.”

He says in another month, there will be an election. “Do we leave the status quo? Let the next council handle it? Or do we want to make a decision based on all the information we have been provided? We don’t want to run the museum. But we want to be able that the dollars we are giving out are going to a specific area.”

Councillor McPherson asks what has to be done to come up with a fee for service plan. Elliott says they just have to agree on amounts and what are the deliverables. That’s a standard template. The only thing that changes is amounts or deliverables.

Councillor Mackay says the town has seen some world class discoveries. “I was glad to hear the direction that Charles was talking about tonight,” he says. “We are a lot more than palaeontology. This area has so much to offer, and the geopark knits it all together. I don’t think we should put all our eggs in one basket.

Councillor Caisley asks how long council will wait for the Geopark decision before dealing with the museum. “Is it fair to say that the status quo will continue until the decision on the geopark is made. If the answer is no, will we wait for that? And if so, for how long.”

Councillor McPherson says that if the answer is no at the end of the month, Council needs to get the fee for service agreement in place. Councillor Leggett says they also need to come up with a list of what Council wants to see from the museum.

Elliott reminds council that the whole process with AldrichPears was in two phases. Phase I was to create terms of service, including deliverables. “Business plan. Master plan. Marketing plan. That was all there. You’ve developed a terms of reference.

Phase two, he says, saw the discussion shift a little bit because of discussion around the Visitor Centre, so direction was given to look at options. “You have a draft document in front of you. If direction is to say make it final. Any questions you have will be forwarded, and you’ll have a completed plan. I’m afraid that because of the time lag between Phase I and II, some of the nuances might have been lost.”

Elliott says the terms of reference was shared with museum at that time. They appeared at the time to discuss they had not had input. Phase II is still in front of you. You need to finish off what you started before you can sit down with them and hash out deliverables. Your almost putting the cart before the horse if you are having those discussions with them.

Councillor McPherson says he doubts council will have enough time to finish this off before the next council comes in. “If the geopark does go through it gives us a lot of push to get funding.”

Councillor Snyder says that talk about the geopark has got a lot of people in Victoria talking about Tumbler Ridge and the museum, according to MLA Bernier. “He has really been pushing for that.”

The discussion will be continued at the next meeting. Council will come up with a list of deliverables needed for a fee-for service policy.

ALASKA HIGHWAY COMMUNITY SOCIETY REPRESENTATION  

Jordan Wall, EDO, says Tumbler Ridge is a member of the Alaska Highway Community Society, but haven’t had representation since the previous EDO left. He volunteers as a representative for Tumbler Ridge, but says if a member of council wants to do it, he will gladly step aside. However, he sees it as a perfect place to network with other people from the Region. Council agrees.

MURRAY SERVICE FOREST ROAD – PROVINCIAL PARTNERSHIP

Wall has been having discussions with Scott Maxwell on the Murray Service Forest Road.  Maxwell’s is wondering what Council’s interest is in a possible partnerships for road maintenance. Maxwell has asked if Tumbler Ridge have appetite to take over part of road, like the part that is looked after by parks. Not looking for promises, just discussion.

Councillor McPherson says that would be something that would have to be asked of the public. Councillor Mackay is less positive. “Not in this bloody lifetime,” he says. “There are three different levels of government shirking responsibilities over this road.”

Councillor McPherson says it needs more than just grading. “We got them to grade the road this year and it did nothing. Pave it. Chip seal it. Grade it and you get more flat tires. I was on it after they graded it and it was terrible.”

CAI Investment grant

EDO Wall says the CAI grant is a federal grant that matches municipal funding up to $350000 to attract international investment. “I think it is important to take a look at where met coal is going,” he says. “You look at the new mines being developed here, and they are being opened by Chinese companies. The market for what we are selling is in China, and it will be even moreso. The hardest investor is the first. And we have two.”

The grant will help the District identify target companies and corporations. It will pay to have materials translated into Chinese, and it can be used to build a development website. Wall says he is bringing this forward now to find out if Council wants him to pursue. He estimates the total cost would be $150,000, half of which would be covered by Tumbler Ridge. But it is a significant amount of time to invest he says. Elliott says he is confident that there would be sufficient funds in the budget. Council is in favour of proceeding.

Domain website.

Wall wants to see www.tumblerridge.ca become the tourist website. Council agrees.