Policies and Priorities Meeting, September 12

Trent Ernst, Editor

Present: Mayor McPherson, Councillors Caisley, Kirby, Howe, Krakowka, Scott, Mackay

PETITIONS AND DELEGATIONS

TUMBLER RIDGE MUSEUM FOUNDATION – BORALEX LETTER OF APPRECIATION

Jim Kincaid of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF), came before council to discuss the Boralex letter of appreciation. At the July 4 meeting, Councillor Howe raised questions about a letter from Boralex to the District, expressing their appreciation that there was such a valuable resource in the community.

This presentation is in response to Council questions arising following receipt of a letter from Boralex, says Kincaid. “Our Board appreciates the support that you continue to provide for the TRMF and welcomes this opportunity to clarify issues surrounding our use of your public funds. It appears that Council’s concern is about the provision of a free service to industry.”

Kincaid asks council to consider the following: First, the service that was provided to Boralex consisted of a quick review of the known geology in the area of their project and provided advice as to whether they might encounter fossils and track ways in that area. The process involved no more than an hour or two of work by the paleontologists.

“TRMF does not provide detailed technical palaeontology reviews to industry. Industry contracts private firms to do that work. We merely give them a quick assessment as to the need for such detailed work because there are no firms in British Columbia capable of providing that service. Industry must contract the work out of province.”

Kincaid says the TRMF is as interested in supporting industrial development in the region as Council is. “Such a limited service does much to enhance our relationship with industry, to the benefit of both us and the Tumbler Ridge area.”

By way of example, he says, the museum provided the same service to Pattern Energy last year and it was instrumental in leading to a $4,000 per year grant over the next 25 years, which will be used for educational purposes for the TRMF and the Global Geopark, totaling $100,000. “That’s a pretty astounding return on investment,” says Kincaid. “As well, it led to the recovery and delivery to our museum, at no cost to us, of several remarkable fossil footprints.”

Second, he says, the work done by the museum’s palaeontologists is not paid for out of District of Tumbler Ridge funds. “As a reminder, the District placed a restriction on its funds stating that they could not be used for research. We therefore account separately to you, on a quarterly basis, the use of your funds. Those quarterly accounts are followed up by an annual audit conducted by a professional audit firm. They show that our research work is funded from other sources. Those sources have raised no concern about the use of their funds in the manner set out above. We at the TRMF are fully cognizant of the need to ensure public trust in our operation and work diligently to follow the conditions attached to our public funds.”

Third, say Kincaid, the museum has a communication protocol with the District of Tumbler Ridge which involves a Council liaison, currently Councillor Kirby, attending regular TRMF Board meetings. “We would greatly appreciate your raising concerns and questions such as this one through the Council liaison as opposed to raising ill-informed questions at public meetings. Such questions generally raise reactions on social media which do nothing for the TRMF reputation and leave Council in an embarrassing position when the follow up response is provided.

Mayor McPherson says the regional District has not put any limitations on the funds, and they like to see the money spend in this way. He also would like to see the lines of communications open more. “I like the working relationship we have right now, and would like to keep it,” but he says there have been some issues. He agrees that communications should be funneled through the Museum liaison.

Councillor Howe says the museum shouldn’t look at these things as antagonistic. “I get asked questions on the street, and if I don’t have the answers, I have to ask,” says Howe. “People ask me on the street how this works and how that works, so I’ll throw it out in public. It is nothing against you guys, I just need the answer.”

Kincaid says he has no problem with the questions being asked, but it would be really be helpful to funnel the questions through the liaison. “When you ask the question in public, you open up the channels for people to harass us on social media.”

RCMP – UPDATE ON NEW MEMBERS

The RCMP showed up to introduce the new constables, as well as the new sergeant who will hopefully be starting later in the year.

They also provided an update on the year to date, including a summary of what happened during Grizfest.

For that weekend, says Constable McElwain, they had members on: three from in town, one from Chetwynd, three from Dawson Creek, one from Fort Saint John, and the remainder from North Peace traffic services.

They took in 42 files over the weekend. “Out of those, three are going to criminal code charges, and more are pending,” he says.

They banned one person from the ground, and made eight check stops that resulted in liquor violations. “The long and short of it, it was a success.” There was also, he says, one car accident on way to Grizfest.

So far this year, there have been 602 files generated. Last year, there had been 608 files. McElwain attributes this to the decline in population as well as more education.

They have had 18 prisoners this year, compared to 14 all of last year. This is a good news, bad news situation. For the last few years, they have been having issues with finding guards, so this year, the members themselves have been spending time there on their days off so they are able to hold people.

“We have tried to go back to basics of policing,” he says, “and we are trying to get out to more community events. We want people to be able to approach us, and have a positive experience with police.”

Councillor Krakowka asks if DARE program will continue with Constable Bos leaving. Yes, says McElwain, as two of the new staff are DARE trained.

He asks if any permits been issued to ATVs yet. No, says McElwain.

Mayor McPherson says there has been lots of good feedback around Grizfest. “I heard a rumour that you might be getting access to a riverboat,” he says.

That’s not quite true, says McElwain. There is one in Hudson’s Hope, which is for the entire Peace. “For every tool, you have to be trained,” he says. In order to get a boat here, they need two people with jet boat training and swift water training in town. “I am one of three RCMP in the Peace who are trained. I tried to get the boat here to do enforcement on river this year, but the problem was the corporal wasn’t able to come down, so it didn’t work this year. We won’t be getting a boat here, but will have access to it next year.”

Councillor Caisley asks how would he compare Tumbler Ridge to other similar sized communities for case files? McElwain says he can’t answer that off the top of his head.

Councillor Caisley asks if there are any suggestions as to how we can improve and make your job a little easier?

“From the day I got here, I’ve known you have had our back,” says McElwain.

Councillor Caisley asks about Citizens on Patrol. McElwain says he is in consultation with the current members of the program to breathe new life into it.

Councillor Howe says it is good to see new members, and he is glad he hasn’t had the opportunity to meet them in other circumstances. However, he says, there is a rumour that one of the members is leaving? Yes.

He asks if there has been many complaints around bears. McElwain says if someone calls, the RCMP will go make an assessment, and consult with conservation. “We’ll explain the situation, say the bear is in a tree, and a dog chased it up a tree, or whatever. We intervene when the bear starts being a nuisance: starts eating garbage, charging people. Then we may have to destroy the bear.”

He says he tells people to call conservation, but when he asks, more often than not, they haven’t received a call.

“If we have to take action, be it a bear banger, a rubber bullet, or a real bullet, we have to take into consideration of what’s behind the bear,” he says. “We have to figure out all the factors. I’m not going to discharge a firearm if it’s going to harm someone three houses down. But whenever we get a call, we will respond. Despite what some people have been saying, conservation has been here a lot. Conservation has been working really hard. They’re aware of the concerns. Both traps are in service right now. They’ve been monitoring the dump. I’ve been very impressed with the level of involvement.

“Ultimately, if we know about the issues, we can act on them, but if we don’t know, we can’t. There was three weeks where I watched how many complaints on Facebook, and we got not one call. We don’t have the time to monitor Facebook. They are call to call for last year.”

CORRESPONDENCE

RADON AWARENESS

Correspondence received September 2, 2016 from The Lung Association of British Columbia regarding radon awareness.

REPORTS

DISTRICT OF TUMBLER RIDGE POLICY REVIEW

Report dated September 12, 2016 from the Corporate Officer to report to Council on the District of Tumbler Ridge policy review.

PERSONNEL POLICIES REVIEW

Six personnel policies were up for review.

ASSET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

Report dated September 12, 2016 from the Chief Administrative Officer to advise of the Committee’s recommendations; the recommendations are being provided for Council discussion during the PPC, then subsequently forwarded to a Council meeting for approval.

The committee has met three times over the summer and reviewed several items in need of repair, like the town hall exterior, says Councillor Scott.

Councillor Howe says the Watermark Report is in here; has the District figured out where the leak is on Murray?

There was no leak, says Councillor Scott That one was groundwater. With this year’s rain, it was just more noticeable.

Councillor Howe asks about wash bay. Councillor Krakowka says it’s not about whether it is needed, but what type of wash bay is needed. “There hasn’t been a dollar figure attached.” Councillor Scott says what is in the report a recommendation of the Asset Management Committee, but would have to go through Council’s approval.

Mayor McPherson says it will probably cost about $60,000 for the engineering report.

Councillor Howe says his point is: “let’s not spend the money if we’re not sure we want it.”

“At this point we can’t move forward until it comes back to Council,” says Councillor Scott, “but they can’t continue doing the wash out in the yard. They’ll have to build the wash bay, or start washing at a local bay.”

“This stuff runs around town and gets dirty,” says Councillor Howe. “This isn’t mining equipment. “This is a lot of money. Is there something legislating us that we have to build a wash bay?”

Mayor McPherson says there aren’t any other businesses the size of the District that doesn’t have a wash bay. “If we tell people they have to do it right and follow the rules, then we don’t, what message are we sending out? I have problems with the cost of the engineer, but it has to be built.”

Wall says the District is not in compliance with its own bylaws. There has been a company fined for doing this already this year. “If we change this, then we’d have to change the rules for everybody. We have to use a car wash, or we need a wash bay.”

“We head down a slippery slope if we worry about cleaning up every little spill,” says Howe. “There is waste oil stored at the dump. Are we responsible for that? You can wash vehicles in the shop. I’m not interested in spending that kind of money if we don’t have to.”

BYLAW ENFORCEMENT PRACTICES

Council passed a motion at the July 11, 2016 Policies and Priorities Committee Meeting that a report on bylaw enforcement practices be made with the option of increased enforcement included.

A report has been prepared, says Wall, but recommendations will come forward on how to shorten timelines and enforce some of these items once winter is here, when bylaw isn’t quite so busy. This report is to inform Council of Bylaw Enforcement Practices, timelines, and options for increased enforcement.

On average, there are three first offence actions taken per day, says Wall. “If you want to do more, we’ll need more staff over summer. Additional enforcement will require additional resources. The Fire chief oversees the department, but only one person really does it.”

Mayor McPherson says complaint driven enforcement has worked well over the years. Councillor Krakowka has had chickens for years, the mayor points out, but because there have been no complaints, they have remained. “It’s not a bad thing to have it complaint driven. I’m sure if you walked into any yard in this town you could come up with at least one bylaw violation.”

Councillor Scott says if we have a full time bylaw officer, we should be doing the obvious ones, like unsightly yards. “Giving people 30 days to deal with an unsightly yard when you have 60 days of summer gives them a lot of wiggle room,” she says. “I think there should be more enforcement around things like that and derelict vehicles. People are abandoning vehicles on the edge of green spaces.”

Councillor Caisley disagrees. “If we’re not going to enforce the bylaws, then take them off the books, or bring in more people to enforce. If we are going to continue on with the bylaws we’ve got, then enforce or eliminate them. It’s as simple as that.”

Councillor Krakowka says the issue is to try and make it simpler on bylaw.

Councillor Howe says what the mayor says makes sense. “I like what the RCMP said about changing the way they do things to do more follow-up on complaints.”

DISCUSSION ITEMS

SPEED LIMITS IN TUMBLER RIDGE / NO DRIVING TESTS

Councillor Howe says he was getting insurance the day the new speed limit signs went up, and the driving instructor said he wouldn’t be able to do tests in town, because there wasn’t adequate roads that were 50 kph; the guy from ICBC thought the speed limits were 50 kph throughout town. If that’s the case, he says, the speed limit is 30 kph unless otherwise posted. Is council willing to lose another service?

Councillor Caisley says there should be no reason to not get licensed in town. “We should do what we can to make this happen.”

Mayor McPherson agrees, but says he doesn’t know what needs to change to do that.

Wall says it would be good to confirm this information. “A number of small communities have had these services pulled, and it might be something different.” Because so much of the town is residential, he’s not sure how this would work.

Howe suggests changing the speed limit on Northgate and Southgate, Willow, Murray, Bergeron and Speiker to 50, says Howe. “Other than us changing signs and having a discussion, what else needs to be done?”

Mayor McPherson says he agrees with what Wall says; if this change doesn’t affect the driving instructors, then why do it?

Councillor Mackay says the speed limit has been 30 for all this time. Are the instructors really saying they thought the speed limit was 50 all along?

Council wants clarification with ICBC. Wall suggests to add it to Council Action Summary Sheet.

Howe says Northgate and Southgate are both four lanes; you could easily change them to 50.

Krakowka points out there are a number of streets that have signs posted at one end and not the other.

Council moves to investigate.

Councillor Howe proposes changing Pioneer Loop, Northgate and Southgate to 50 kph. Passes.

VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION POLICY

Mayor McPherson doesn’t think the District is doing enough to honour the local volunteers. He proposes a volunteer appreciation dinner and citizen of the year award.

Councillor Kirby agrees. She would like to see groups nominate people, too. “I’ve never really liked the weekend that has been chosen, as we get a lot of people who aren’t there. Last weekend of summer, people are out hunting….”

Councillor Howe suggests in conjunction with the District Christmas party, but the mayor would like it to be its own event.

Krakowka says in Alberta they have Community Ambassador plates. “It’s something. We don’t thank the people enough, whether it’s the Lions that feed us, or whoever,” he says.

Councillor Caisley says perhaps a service club of the year award as well. “A lot of our clubs are doing a tremendous amount of work, and it’d be nice to see the group honoured as well.”

Wall says there are two options; Council can design the event, or they can give staff a budget and staff will design the best event they can within that budget.

Councillor Krakowka says he’d like to sit on a committee, if there is a committee.

Motion to direct staff to research a volunteer appreciation night.

DISBANDING ALL COUNCIL COMMITTEES

Councillor Scott says she was talking to someone over the summer from a neighbouring community who said they had moved to getting rid of committees, and just discussing things at P&P meetings. “Some people have lots of questions around asset management, for instance, and some councillors are feeling like they’re not getting enough information.”

Mayor says the report from the asset management committee is a great example of how committees work well. He has talked to a few mayors around who said they have got rid of some of the lesser committees. “I’m not sure we need a committee for volunteer appreciation banquet, for instance, but for things like asset management, they’re great.”

Councillor Mackay agrees. Those committees not only bring council members together, but also bring in experience and perspective of community members.

Councillor Kirby says the TAC committee is important, too, because it gathers together all the groups together to provide input. “I wouldn’t want to see the TAC dissolved.”

Councillor Howe says he likes the committee aspect, but he doesn’t like the way the discussion went tonight. “The people on the committee weren’t voted in. I have no problem with discussion and debate around ideas. Don’t be upset or mad because someone asks questions. We’re not scumming you, we’re not coming after you, we’re just asking questions.”

Councillor Krakowka says last week the way the branding information came forward didn’t work for him; he just wants to be on the same page. “People need to be kept up to date. Maybe the report needs to go out beforehand so questions can be asked beforehand.”

Councillor Mackay agrees. “If we don’t have the information to make a qualified recommendation, then we’re failing as councilors. Maybe having the minutes made available is the way to bridge the gap?”

Councillor Scott says the trouble is when there are questions raised. The wash bay, for instance, is one that has a lot of questions. The other one that will be coming forward is the pool again, and that’s going to be a big one.

Councillor Caisley says he likes the committee structure. “It saves us all a lot of work. Ideas are brought forward, and if new ideas are generated, they go back to the committee. I think a lot of work can be done in committees. It’s not a matter of having committes for everything, just having the right committees.”

Decisions are made at this table, says Mayor McPherson, these are recommendations that come to us from the committees, and he says he doesn’t see an issue with that.

Councillor Scott asks for an update on who’s on what committees.

KINUSEO FALLS ROAD NAMING

The Murray FSR is not being taken over by the Ministry of Transport, so we can rename it, says Councillor Kirby. They suggested a contest. But she doesn’t think they need that. “I think it should just be called the Kinuseo Falls Road,” she says.

“There’s a few things I’ve called that road over the years,” says Mayor McPherson. He suggests contacting users of the road, like Teck and HD Mining, before springing a name change on them.

EDO Wall points out it’s the province’s road, Council is just making a recommendation.

Councillor Makay says that the reason Council has been hammering on the issue is because of Kinuseo Falls, and Kinuseo Falls Road makes sense.

Motion to forward name on to Ministry. Passed.

UBCM MINISTRY MEETINGS

Wall wants to know how council wants to run them; in past, it’s been two council members and CAO. Last year the entourage was bigger.

Councillor Caisley says it’s critical to send two councilors; the first one should be the mayor or designate, and then a backup. Anyone more than two is excessive, especially with only 15 minutes.

Howe says that the way it was set up last year, with the three pillars, and everyone on the same page is critically important.

TRAIL MONKMAN WAY TO SPIEKER

Councillor Mackay says he wants to see this part of the trail completed, and it would be able to completed within original budget; will allow future trail expansion. If we need any type of motion to get this done, lets get it done.

Wall says he took a look at budget and made decision to extend the path. But Councilor Howe identified it wasn’t what Council had proposed. “I needed a direction from the Mayor to stop that, when I got that direction, it had been cleared, the geocloth had been put on and the gravel had been put on.”

Wall apologizes for making that decision, but reminds Council that the decision was within his prerogative.

Councillor Scott says the project was coming in under budget, but now it’s going over. “If this had been brought before us, we might have made a different decision.”

“We talked extensively about the budget in February,” says Councillor Howe. “How to save the taxpayer some money. The problem I have with this is the disconnect between Council and staff. If you had come back and said “look I saved $80,000” rather than spending the money. I’m pretty sure everyone was in favour of saving money. This was a prime opportunity to save money. Don’t continue to save money we don’t have to. There’s no rhyme or reason to continue that trail. Those trails are to help kids get to school. There’s no reason to spend money on this section.”

Mayor says it’s not just to get kids to school. “When we started talking about paving these trails it was to create a paved loop around town. I agree with Councillor Mackay; from the conversations we had in this room, we wanted to do that, too. Yes, we could have saved money, but there’s this other idea, too.”

Councillor Howe says his fear is that the District goes down the road they went down with recycling. “We put the cart ahead of the horse. If there’s a plan to complete this that I don’t know about, then great, but we shouldn’t spend the money this year. If there’s no plan on how to do this, don’t continue doing it until we have one.”

Councillor Scott points out where the pavement originally ended, there is a trail that goes down that loops down. “Now we’re going to have two.”

Ken Klicach says there a lot of people who use that section of trail, people going out and walking their dogs. “Council says save money, but at the end of the year, we get a tune up for having money left in our budget,” he says. Councillor Howe asks who has ever done that?

Councillor Mackay says he’d hate to see staff not having the ability to make informed decisions because Council has authoritarian issues. “We’ve talked about the loop. I’m not saying the whole thing should be paved, but this isn’t a bad idea.”

Councillor Krakowka says this comes down to what Councillor Howe says. “I’ve heard about the idea of having a trail around town, but I haven’t seen a plan. We don’t have a plan. Where are they going to go? Nobody knows.”

Councillor Caisley asks is this motion coming forward next meeting? Yes,

Councillor Howe says “What sort of precedent are we setting if staff can do this? Who says you have to spend the money?”

Wall admits he made the wrong call, regardless of what I say here. However, he says, did I have authority? “Yes I did. In a city like Edmonton, would Council have the time to discuss a three or four percent extension to a path? No. That power is rested with administration. Will administration make the right call every time? No. But you have to trust them to make the right decision. In this case, it was the wrong decision.”

Councillor Mackay says the decision meets a plan that council extended.

Councillor Kirby asks how much to complete extension. The total cost $35,000, about half of that has been spent; another $17,000 or so to pave. “If we read this out tonight, do we vote it at the next meeting? What sort of time frame are we looking at for them to pave the paths,” she asks? Motion to put it on next agenda is next meeting.