Policy and Priorities Committee Meeting: October 14, 2015

Trent Ernst, Editor


Present: Councillors Kirby (chair) Krakowka, Howe, Scott, Mackay, Caisley



Dr. Helm and Birgit Sharman came before Council to present the idea of “The Henge” as a potential tourist attraction and to review progress with respect to downtown walking tours.

Helm says the most famous Henge in the world is, of course, Stonehenge. But a henge is simply a circular type of earthwork, often with a ritual stone circle, according to the dictionary. Anyone who has been to Stonehenge has experienced something magical. The idea of a henge in Tumbler Ridge has the capacity to be a major attraction.

“The Geopark is about rocks,” says Helm, “and we have a surplus of rocks, many with Dinosaur tracks. The idea is to use rocks that are too big to move. We would include rocks with trackways, yes, but also rocks with glacial striation.”

The area would also include a labyrinth. A labyrinth, says Helm, is not a maze. “There is a very set path to get to the middle. It’s guided.”

This is not something that would be built next year, but something that would be added to slowly. “Year by year, we would add to it over ten, twenty, thirty, forty years. The museum only has so many rocks right now, but as time goes on, it would grow. It’s the sort of gift that would keep giving.”

Helm says they are looking for potential sites. “Ideally the space next to the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) would be perfect for this, if it’s available. We think this is unique for North America. The fact that we could create it from scratch, sends shivers down my spine.”

But he says, this is not something that is in the works, but just an idea, for now.

Birgit Sharman discusses where the walking tour is at. She says that dinosaur tracks will lead visitors from one location to another. There are three mountain-view signs that have yet to be installed, which would point to prominent peaks around town with photos and a description of the mountain. She says one possible place for these signs is out in front of the VIC, where the walking tour would start and end. The route goes past the old VIC, past the caboose, then  across to the bucket. This is a very popular site, she says, and there’s room for more mining paraphernalia. She says that Councillor Kirby proposed building the world’s largest tire swing, using a haul truck tire.

The route would continue to the forest across the street, where the Community Forest could have interpretive signage, then to town hall, the cenotaph, the RCMP station and the Fire Department, where they are discussing having some art added. There are new signs being commissioned for the back of the Dollar Store building. From here, it would cross the street and pass the photos in the windows at the Anglo offices and then across the parking lot past the murals on Shop Easy and to the Community Centre, where visitors will find 30 museum exhibits, the sports hall of fame, paintings in the pool and paintings on outside of the Community Centre.

Across the road, Lorne Gilfilan has given permission to mount something on the outside of his building. A painting has been commissioned for the exterior of the Health Centre, and there are now photos in windows of Health Centre.

Finally, there are Northern Lights photos, which are going to be mounted on exterior of Northern Lights College.

Helm says that is a good summary of the progress they’ve made and their vision for next year. He says he is hoping to get a few photos of ATVing and snowmobiling.

He says the idea for the downtown walking tour was something that was brought up by Mayor McPherson, and the Geopark Committee acted on it. “But I understand that Council has not actually given direction on this,” he says.

Helm says that all the things they’ve been working on have been non-District property. “We haven’t been able to proceed on any District property. I know this is a P&P meeting, but is it possible to get guidance so we can move ahead on this. From our perspective, we know the troubles the community is in right now, but we can offer visitors who are not interested or able to get outdoors something to do. Give them something to do in Tumbler Ridge. It’s an everyone wins situation.”

Councillor Kirby says it is really starting to take shape. She says that Council needs to sit down and figure out what shape this is going to take.

Councillor Scott asks what the potential size is for the labyrinth. “The bigger the better” says Charles.

She asks what they are looking at doing for next year? “Footprint path, signage, start the labyrinth?”

We’re opportunistic, says Charles. “Since we couldn’t proceed on District property, we did the Heath Centre and other things we could do. I’d like to see it all done, but that’s optimistic.”

Councillor Mackay says both these projects would bring a lot to the Community. He wonders what bylaws govern this.

“There is a signage bylaw and the OCP for the downtown core”, says (now former)CAO Barry Elliott.

The labyrinth idea is quite unique, and while it might not be as ancient as Stonehenge, says Mackay, the idea that it would continue to grow is appealing.

Howe says it’s like the Watson Lake signpost. It keeps changing and growing and keeps people coming back. He’s worried about future development, though. He wonders what happens if, say, a sign goes up on the outside of the pool and the District decides to build a waterslide. All the signs will be movable, says Charles.

Would there be any conflict with the helicopter landing pad with the Henge, asks Howe?

No, says Helm.

The cost of all this, asks Howe?

For the walking tour, everything is paved says Sharman, save for one little section. The labyrinth is still under discussion, so there’s no cost on that.

Councillor Krakowka asks about the signs and do they fall under the signage process that the EDO is going through. Wall says the guidelines haven’t been established. “We’ll figure out a path forward,” he says. “The District is trying to get consistent theming. ATV club and Snowmobile club have been gracious and held off on signs.”

Krakowka is worried about people in the area for the helicopter landing area, which isn’t actually a helicopter landing area, but is used in emergencies.

Councillor Kirby says this was a mayor’s initiative, so Council needs to make sure they hold up their end “We need to get it on an up and coming agenda.”



Invitation received from the Youth Parliament of BC Alumni Society, for youth to apply to participate in the Youth Parliament being held December 27 – 31, 2015 in the Provincial Legislative Chambers in Victoria; application deadline is October 27, 2015. Councillor Howe asks if this needs to be sent off to the school so they know about it. Councillor Mackay asks about the student councillor they used to have. They brought a new perspective, which was great to have. Is that something we should talk about?

Howe asks how this has worked in the past?

Mackay says there was a bench at the side and they sat in on every meeting and gave reports.

Elliott says the Youth Councillor was also able to participate in open discussions, and give feedback on things that happen in high school. Not a voting member, and not able to attend closed meeting.

Councillor Krakowka says it’s a great idea.

Councillor Kirby says the mayor also mentioned it earlier in the year. He recommends putting it on a future meeting.


Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training sent a letter thanking the District for the meetings during UBCM 2015 on forestry, tourism and highway infrastructure.



Terry Vandenbosch came to discuss improvements to the Golf Course. Councillor Howe requested that post barricades be included in this discussion.

Vandenbosch has brought a list of suggested improvements which he passes out, then discusses. These improvements include paving the remaining cart paths. The volume of asphalt needed, he says, was discussed last year. The course needs proper 100 and 200 yard markers. It needs a new bridge to the island on Hole six. Access to the island is currently barricaded off, because the bridge is in such bad shape. The shed between hole one and Hole nine had a tree fall on it a few years back, and it needs to be removed or replaced. The current cart shed is already full, and they could probably fill a second one.

The tables and chairs in clubhouse are getting old. This year, four tables and eight chairs have been removed as they are a hazard. There needs to be good sand in the sand traps. There is a pit next to the course, but it is too course. “Rocks and golf clubs don’t mix,” he says. The sand could be used but would have to be screened. The current greenskeeper needs some education on keeping the greens, and finally, he’s still waiting to see signage for the golf course, so people can find it.

Councillor Howe suggests power to camping sites, as well as moving the cart shed.

Councillor Caisley asks if there is an overall estimate on the price to get the golf course into first class shape?

Elliott says he hasn’t had the conversations with Beale and Klikach to discuss costs. He says a long-term development plan is crucial. It might be difficult to get all the sand traps done in one year, but we can develop a five year plan for the golf course to go alongside the budget.

Councillor Scott suggests that safety issues should be first; the bridge and the old building. She agrees that having an overall plan would be great.

Councillor Mackay says he agrees that Council should be discussing this in detail, and if we can get on this early, we might beat the rush. He hopes that Council doesn’t sit and wait too long.

Councillor Howe asks for a cost on the paving.

Councillor Krakowka points out the weather right now is looking really good for paving…


Councillor Scott requested a discussion regarding walkways and paths around town to improve pedestrian access and also requested an estimate regarding the amount of staff time that may be required. She says these are very important to residents. “This all ties in with tourism, with the walking tour,” she says. There are some missing links and deteriorating paths. She asks for a walking plan path to be created.

Councillor Krakowka points out that they do have money in the Councillor initiative funds right now and there might be a chance to get some work in before it snows.

Councillor Mackay says people are always out on the paths, walking and jogging. “It makes sense to me to continue with this.”

Councillor Howe says he wants to see the lighting improved on the walkways, too. Councillor Kirby says these definitely have a spot in the budget.


Councillor Howe had a number of issues he wanted to talk about. First, he says, he wants to see signs on the outskirts of town saying no chains/lugs in town. They tear up our roads.


“We do so much for tourists, but we need to focus on people who live here as well,” says Councillor Howe. He says a splash park wouldn’t be appropriate for adults and older kids, and he wants to look at building a waterslide at the pool. Councillor Mackay says there is a value to doing things that keep people in town.


Councillor Howe is looking for costs on the next step. Councillor Kirby asks if Council needs to purchase the blue bins. She suggests maybe the District could have the truck go around right now to collect recycling. “Call it bluesday.”


Councillor Howe wants to see if there’s any possibility to get snow removed during non-prime-time in downtown, when there’s no traffic. This has been broached many times over the years, says Elliott. And Beale is in a position to discuss that. He is, however, not here tonight.


Mayor McPherson requested a list of 2015 Capital Projects that have not yet been started. Elliott says in the 2015 budget approved 21 special projects and 61 capital projects. “I’ve conversed with finance and the department heads,” says Barry. “Currently, there are only four that haven’t started. Of course, there are more that are not finished, but there are only four that haven’t started. These are:

The Fire mitigation project down by the golf course.

Mountain bike trail maintenance. $6000 budgeted for work, but trail has held up quite well.

Telephone system in town hall. That one will be moving forward in next few weeks, he hopes.

Wash Bay project has not been started. Will be going back to square one to bring it forward, as Council had concerns around that.

Councillor Caisley asks that when the list of incomplete projects comes in, if it could have completion dates as well.

Councillor Mackay says the fire mitigation would be best planned in conjunction with other logging happening in Community Forest; the sooner they know, the better and the easier it would be to make that happen.

Councillor Krakowka asks if the Fire Mitigation issue can come to the next Council meeting. Elliott says they’re working on getting it set up; they just need a determination on the preferred cut area.


Councillor Krakowka requested a discussion on the possibility of replacing the signpost with a Xmas tree. Elliott brings in some of the pieces from the sign posts to show the completed pieces. The post itself has been removed due to rot. Krakowka says there was some discussion about replacing it with the same sort of logs and moving it to the Visitor’s Centre. Every year, he says, public works cuts down a big tree and moves it there. He says he would love to see a tree planted there. Councillor Mackay says they should look at finding someone who can harvest a 30 foot tree and move it there and plant it. Now is the time to think about it. But I’d like to see as mature a tree as possible.

Howe agrees. It would save a lot of time and money every year. And he thinks over by the visitor centre would be a better place for the sign post.

Councillor Mackay suggests this is something the Community Forest could partner with the District as well.

Councillor Krakowka suggests bringing it to vote for the next meeting.

Discussion turns to winter events. This is something coming forward in the next year, says Wall. Councillor Scott suggests investigating a Winter Wonderland train trip to Tumbler Ridge from Prince George around Christmas.


Councillor Howe requested a discussion on District of Tumbler Ridge land that is for sale and how it will be advertised.

Elliott says they’ve started the process of encapsulating all the information on the 135 properties owned by District. From this, he says he will be speaking with three different appraisers to get the prices updated on the sellable properties. From this, they will be able to post this on the website. We’re not that far off on this, he says. The only thing is updating the appraisals. Councillor Howe says this is exactly why he asked. “When I came down to buy land a year and a half ago, it was an absolute cluster,” he says. He says there are ways to put covenants on the land so we can sell it and have them build on it and start collecting taxes. When the town went down last time, they were able to sell cheap houses. “We can do a similar thing this time. It’s an excellent way to start rebuilding the population here. It’s a no-lose situation for us; right now they’re sitting there and we’re collecting no taxes.” He wants to see this happen by spring.

Councillor Scott says she wants to see zoning on the signage, too. “We need to draw in the entrepreneurs. I’d love to see this happen.”

Councillor Mackay says the hotel was purchased for a dollar. From there, the District has never looked back. “We collect taxes, people are employed…Chetwynd and Dawson Creek seem to keep beating us to the punch. This is worthy of lots of discussion and the sooner the better.”


Councillor Mackay requested a discussion on building a circuit for some of the paths in Tumbler Ridge, perhaps in conjunction with the Community Forest. Elliott says this builds on a previous discussion earlier this evening. Mackay says a lot of the discussion has happened. He just wants to point out that this is something the Community Forest could help with, as well.


Councillor Mackay requested a discussion on how the District might be able to support children who are who are going to school hungry, for example, possibly some of the Return to Work Initiatives monies could be used to help these situations. He also requested a report on how the Return to Work monies were being used. There have been a couple people at the school who keep an eye out and have a stash of food they can discreetly hand out. This would expand on this, he says. The TRSS has a foods class that provides lunches at low cost. At the same time, the Principal and one of the employees can pass on a ticket to kids who need food. To provide food for ten students a day at $10/day, it would cost $11,000. The problem is TRE, says Mackay, where they don’t have the food facilities.

He says just in preliminary conversations, the seniors are interested in helping out. The District would not need to do much other than the initial cash outlay. For $25,000 for the rest of the school year, these needs could be met.

He says he wants to give a tip of the hat to the Library for what they’ve done.

Councillor Caisley says he agrees whatever we can do to help; he would be interested to hear from the schools, as he hadn’t heard anything before it was brought up here. He suggests a delegation from the school so they can here the magnitude of the problem.

Councillor Krakowka suggests inviting the school trustee. He says first day they did the after school snack, there were 31 students. When they first started advertising it, they had 1500 hits on the poster on Facebook.

Councillor Howe asks about the $1.8-million that is collected for school taxes, of which $400,000 goes towards busing. He wonders if it is possible to get some of that money back to fund a program like this.

Councillor Mackay says the kids here have to rent a bus. Parents are having to fundraise for electives. Things, he says, are falling apart. Time is of the essence on something like this.

Councillor Howe says they used to do hot dog day; something like that would be an idea, too.

Elliott suggests Council forward him questions and he could draft a letter to the school trustee, raising Council’s concerns.


Mayor McPherson requested that a discussion regarding Crown Land be added to the budget discussions. This is an extension, says Elliott, of the discussion around selling District property. He says that one of the big issues is to have conversations with the local First Nations, as there was also some interest from them in Crown Land in the area.

Councillor Mackay says that’s under his bailiwick. He says the Community Forest is looking for an expansion of 50,000 cubic metres, and if they are able to get letters from the neighbours, there would be no reason for the Province to say no.

Discussion turns to First Nations relations and setting up a meeting with them around this and other issues.


Councillor Scott requested that a workshop be held in the next quarter to review various plans, especially the strategic plan, land development plan, and tourism plan. She says she just wants a workshop to bring together Council and staff and work on harmonize them.


Councillor Howe requested a discussion regarding the possibility of using the Community Centre Rooms 1, 2 & 3 for business activities. He says Council has talked about this in the past. “Is this something we’re going to do in the next year, or no?” He suggests putting it out to the general public and seeing who is interested.

Elliott says there are some challenges with this. Aleen Torraville says she can appreciate Council’s passion to help small business, but having businesses in the Community Centre, there would be hurdles to overcome. Rooms one and three are used pretty much on a daily basis. Room one is used by non-profits, as in our fees and policy document. It is rented out for smaller group meetings, various ministries, industry uses that room. The pool uses the room for training sessions. Room three is used by quilters, happy hookers, dancers, overflow booking for when rooms four and five are booked. Success by 6 uses the room. Court is held in Community Centre once a month, and they use all the rooms. Other businesses in Community Centre are paying rent. “If we were to let businesses in there, we would be perceived as providing assistance to business in contravention to the Community Charter,” says Torraville.

Wall says he has started to investigate pop-up businesses in town.

Councillor Mackay points out they now have meeting space in the basement of the Visitor Centre. He says that businesses would enhance the usage of the space.

Elliott says there’s a lot of options to be creative. There are challenges, but clearly, this is something that Council wants.

Councillor Krakowka says part of the reason that home based business are in the home is because they don’t know if they can make the leap to having a space of their own.

Councillor Scott says she favours having a lease agreement.

Torraville says she’s been acting director of the Community Centre for a year and a half; in that time not one business has come forward to inquire about the space.

Howe says why should they? “It’s never been done. We are looking to try something new. Maybe we can’t do 1, 2 and 3, but maybe we could rent room 2?”

Councillor Kirby says she wants to see people using the Community Centre.


Councillor Krakowka asks for this to be tabled until Family Needs Committee is established. Wall says he had a conversation with the grant writer, who says there is a possibility of a $250,000 grant, but would have better luck getting the grant if it was down at the campground.


Councillor Kirby requested a discussion regarding possible improvements at the RV Park. She says she has talked with Terry Cosgrove and Mr Elliott. There was some input from the visitors: Fire Pits and Wifi. “There were great reviews from campers, but those are the two things that Council should look at.”

Krakowka says the new sign looks great, but is wondering about the old wash facilities. Elliott says it has been decommissioned, but not yet removed.

Scott asks if Cosgrove is coming before Council with a report. Elliott says she has provided a written report, but can be asked. He says there were two other things in that report: some of the picnic tables are deteriorating, and issues around privacy between sites.

Councillor Howe asks if Monkman RV Park is going to be a tourist destination; his understanding is it’s more for worker’s accommodations. He questions how much money they want to throw at things like privacy.

Kirby says with the number of tourists that are staying there, they might want to upgrade. Councillor Krakowka asks if there are stats around tourist numbers over the summer, excluding Grizfest and Emperor’s Challenge.