Regular Meeting of Council: April 1, 2015

Trent Ernst, Editor


Present: Mayor McPherson, Councillors Howe, Krakowka, Caisley, Mackay and Kirby via phone

There is an extended discussion regarding the March 1 special council meeting minutes. Please see story elsewhere. Councillor Howe opposes accepting the minutes as read.



Grace Walsh appeared before Council to request they proclaim the month of April as Daffodil Campaign month.

The Canadian Cancer Society, says Walsh, has declared April as Cancer Month. The Tumbler Ridge Lions club is spearheading the campaign. The Daffodil Campaign began over a cup of tea in 1954 at a tea hosted by lady Eaton. “The colourful blooms proved so popular realized they could raise funds and create awareness by selling the flowers,” says Walsh. “This has blossomed into Daffodil Month.”

She says in the year 2000, the Canadian Cancer Society adopted the daffodil as the official symbol of the society. “We will be selling five boxes at a table in shop easy until all the flowers are gone.” She says they will also be selling daffodil pins to remember those who have had cancer and those we’ve lost. “I myself had cancer in 2010 and this year marks five years since.”

The mayor declares April Daffodil Campaign Month.


Glen Auger, Community Coordinator, Spectra Energy, came before Council to provide an update on Spectra Energy activities. Auger says for Spectra, safety is the number one priority. Every aspect of business is focused on safety.

Spectra is a leader in pipeline, processing and gathering, and one of the largest natural gas midstream businesses in Canada. There have Four divisions: BC pipeline, BC field services, midstream and natural gas liquids. One of their biggest facilities in the region is the Pine River Gas Plant.

Auger says the Spectra paid $583,000 to the District in 2014. “Spectra is a strong supporter of building community,” he says, pointing to the $10,000 the company donated to charities in Tumbler Ridge last year.

One of the big projects they are working on is the West Coast Connector Gas Transmission Project, which would take natural gas from the Cypress area down along the Fort Nelson mainline to mount Lemoray then heads west. This would pass well north of Tumbler Ridge, in the Hudson’s Hope Area.

Other things under way in the area include the Jackfish lake expansion program, the expansion of the natural gas transmission system from Taylor to Chetwynd over the next three years, as well as the usual operation and maintenance activities: Right of way vegetation management, pigging and the like.

Councillor Howe thanks him for coming in. He says natural gas is underrepresented in town right now, even though it’s probably the biggest employer in town right now. The mayor asks about the virtual natural gas pipeline that PNG was planning on building. “It never seemed the safest,” he says. He wonders if Spectra ever looked at increasing the size of the pipeline.

There’s a limited capability, sad Auger. To get it here, it would have to come in from Willow flats near Chetwynd.


Tim Bennett, Recreation Officer, Peace Fort Nelson Forest Recreation District Recreation Sites and Trails BC, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations came before council to discuss a potential partnership with the District of Tumbler Ridge to assist in developing a public safety advisory for Avalanche Awareness in the Northeast Northern Rockies.

This area is very data sparse says Bennett. He is approaching Tumbler Ridge, as well as the District of Mackenzie and District of Chetwynd. He is looking to pull together $2500 from each community to bring in an expert to do snowpack analysis in these communities.

“We depend right now on user supplied information,” says Bennett. “There wasn’t a lot provided this year. In order to increase this, I am asking for the funding to bring in a snow expert to come in at least once a month over winter. They would do snow pits in each area to provide riders basic information so they can make educated risk assessments.”

He says tourism is a very large draw to tumbler ridge. This would be a benefit for the community, showing they are trying to promote safe riding.

Councillor Kirby says we’ve had lives lost in our back country. “I think this would be great to help promote tourism and snowmobiliers.”

Councillor Howe asks where the professional comes from. Bennett says there are two in the north. One in Prince George, who works full time and one out of Grande Prairie. It would probably be the person out of Grande Prairie. Howe asks is someone from Tumbler Ridge be able to do it? Bennett says no, or at least, not right now. “It’s a very specific science and requires specific training.” An avalanche level 1 technician is a seven day course, but in order to do the job, they would need at least three to five years of field experience.

The mayor asks if the checks could be done more frequently. “Once a month wouldn’t cut it.” Again, the answer is probably not. “It depends on the contract we can negotiate, but it’s a very large area. You spend a day at the Core Lodge, then the next at Wolverine, then the next day and the next day…that’s a lot of travelling. I think $10,000 it might not even cover it when you look at wages, travel, staying overnight and everything.”

Bennett says there is the Mountain Information Network, where local riders can send in observations. This year, there were only three or four observations sent in from this area, but it’s very new. Bennett hopes that as time goes on, it will grow in popularity. “We need to get the message out that users need to share information.”

EDO Jordan Wall says he wants to go over some of the things that Bennett has done to promote and improve our area. “I would say that Bennett is one of a small group of people outside our community who works hard to improve this area.”



Greg Grant, Provincial Executive Director for BC Transplant is requesting that Council proclaim the month of April as National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Month, which mayor McPherson does.


Jerrilyn Schembri, Race Director for the Emperor’s Challenge, sent a letter requesting that Council approve the use of District equipment and delivery to the Core Lodge Site on August 7, 2015 in preparation for the marathon taking placed on August 8, 2015. Councillor Caisley moves to comply with the request. Passed.



Considering the amount of discussion that happened at the last budget meeting, says CAO Barry Elliott, as well as the sudden nature of this, he has asked Fire Chief Matt Treit here to answer any questions council might have. “Given the technician’s report, this has moved up the priority

Councillor Krakowka asks about the testing that happened the day before. “That was a pump test,” says Treit.

The mayor asks if a 100 foot ladder will fit our buildings? “The current ladder truck is 100 foot ladder,” says Treit. “It’s a custom build. The hall has 12 foot doors and is only 46 foot long. We might be able to find one used, but a custom build would definitely fit.”

The mayor says that there needs to be a lot more work put into finding a used truck. “We don’t seem to know if there is a good used one out there.”

Chief Treit says finding a used truck within five years is difficult. “Anything we would find would be seven to ten years old.” This means that the truck would only have a useful life span of about a decade or so. Councillor Krakowka agrees. “The trouble with buying a used truck is there is probably a reason for it getting sold. Buy something like that and we could wind up having issues with it.”

Treit says the recommendation is to find a stock demo truck. These are trucks that are built to bring along to trade shows, he says, and are kept in immaculate shape. Chief Treit says this will be sent out as an RFP. He expects there are four or five companies that would bid on it.

Councillor Krakowka asks if Tumbler Ridge has seen a demo truck in the last year? Chief Treit says a 75 foot truck was in town about a year and a half ago.

The mayor asks about the difference between a 75 foot ladder and a 100 foot ladder. Chief Treit says a 75 foot ladder would reach the top of the new hotel. However, in a structure fire the truck has to be a distance away. “This truck is going to be here for 20-25 years, and we don’t know what new buildings are going to be built. As well, the condo buildings don’t have access from all sides so you need that extra reach.”

The mayor asks if the old truck can be repaired. Treit says that at some point the decision needs to be made to replace it. “Rather than put more money into repair it, now is the time to look at it. It’s just like your own vehicle. You can’t predict when the transmission will go. There’s no way to say if it will fail in the next six months, or the next year. If we are going to be replacing it, do we want to be putting the $25,000 into it now if it is getting replaced?”

Councillor Mackay asks if the fire truck is only worth $25,000, who would buy it? Cheif Treit says big departments need backups, as well as some large businesses that don’t need a truck that is maintained to that standard.

Councillor Mackay says he is uncomfortable spending this amount of money on such short notice.

Councillor Krakowka asks how many times it has been used as a ladder. “Do we need it all?” Treit takes it one step farther, saying the district doesn’t even need a fire department. However, the Fire Underwriter Association does an evaluation, and insurance company sets the rates. One of the recommendations they make is any jurisdiction with five or more structures two or more stories is recommended to have a ladder truck. The District currently has nine buildings that fit the criteria.

Councillor Krakowka asks if the District were to buy a pump as opposed to a ladder, would that help us?

The Fire Underwriters puts municipalities into one of six categories, says Chief Treit. We are 3a. Insurance companies consider that protected. Tax payers save 1.7 million in insurance costs because we are protected. But he can’t say if not having a ladder truck would change our status, as there are so many variables.

The mayor asks if there is a fire at a mine, do we send it out there? Chief Treit says they took the truck out for a test, and it could only reach 12 kph going up the hill, so by the time it actually reached the fire, it might be too late. Councillor Krakowka asks if the fire department has to go out to the mines, do we charge for that? No, says the chief. Krakowka asks if they send help if we have a fire in town? There was a mutual aid agreement in the past, says the Chief, but there is nothing in place now.

Councillor Caisley says he doesn’t think we should make this decision tonight as opposed to when the budget discussions are happening. “My preference is we include it in our budget discussions.” This, says Elliott is the plan, but he wanted council to be able to ask questions of Chief Treit.

Councillor Howe asks if we were to bring on this truck to have a decrease in operational budget. Yes, says Chief Treit, “I would say that maintenance on a new truck would run at a couple thousand, as opposed to ten, eleven thousand.”

Howe asks if the fire department is losing people? Not right now, says the chief, but there are a number of unemployed volunteers who are looking for work.

Councillor Howe says it is a 28 year old truck. “Yes, it’s not getting as much use as a truck in Vancouver, but I suspect they would only last seven years. If you look at this over five years, it’s no more than what we are giving the museum over that time. It’s time to make the hard decisions, and I think this is something that needs to be done. What happens if we put it off, and then we have another vehicle that needs to be replaced? Another building envelope that needs to be repaired?” He says he is in favour of this.


Council adopted the District of Tumbler Ridge Town Hall Meetings Policy – EO7.The new policy states that Town Hall meetings will be hosted no less than two times a year and not more than four times a year.


Council passed a motion to adopt a new Weight Room Policy stating the weight room is available for use by patrons 16 years and older. Teens 13–15 must complete an orientation. Councillor Caisley asks if staff is satisfied that, when the weight room is unsupervised, and if there is an accident, we have the insurances in line that will cover us? Elliott say the district carries general public insurance in the neighbourhood of 30 million. Councillor Krakowka asks if they looked into whether they could lock users out based on the swipe cards. Administrative Services Manager Aleen Torraville, who is currently looking after the Recreation Centre, too, says no, that can’t be done.


Economic Development Officer Jordan Wall wrote a report updating Council on a March 16 meeting that he and Chamber of Commerce Manager Carmen Drapeau had with officials from Borea and Pattern around the Meikle Creek Wind Project. According to Wall, Borea reconfirmed their commitment to work with local businesses, and will be holding a job/business information fair April 8–9 at the Community Centre. Wall advises that, as Borea is the main contractor, they do not plan on hiring a large amount of individuals during the fair, but will collect resumes to pass on to the sub-contractors. Councillor Caisley asks if there is any way Council can track how many locals are hired.

Wall says yes and no. Any information they provide is voluntary, and any promise they make to council is not binding. “I am trying to create a system where it doesn’t get lost. They have promised me that any contract going out to tender will go through me. When talking individual hiring, what they’ve done in the past is convene a working group, and show how many man hours of people working who live in Tumbler Ridge, who live in Chetwynd.”


Economic Development Officer Jordan Wall wrote a report advising Council that the District’s Letter of Intent to apply to the Labour Market Partnership Program has been approved by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.

Tumbler Ridge Youth Services Society Fee waiver request

TRYSS is holding a Wake-a-Thon on April 10. While the Director of Community Services is able to approve the facility fee waiver request, they cannot approve staffing time. Council approved a fee waiver to cover labour in the amount of $236.23 for the TRYSS Wake-a-Thon.


On March 5, a number of Fee For Service and Grant In Aid requests were presented. A decision on these requests is required to complete the 2015-2019 Financial Plan. The total requests run to $404,400.

Mayor McPherson says he has a couple issues. He says he doesn’t think the district can commit to 2016 and 2017.

He also wonders about Grizfest. Last year, they said it was a one-time deal. This request is outlay for promotion. Maybe the District should take on some radio spots. There’s always something going on in town. I think we should have these spots and let these groups use it for promotion.

Councillor Krakowka says he does support it. It showcases Tumbler Ridge and brings tourism. “We need to help these groups to help them survive,” he says. “Once these groups bring in people to town, it is us who need to keep them here. I’m not saying that it should be $75,000, but we need to support them.”

Elliott says staff is not asking that Council make a decision on this tonight, this is just to give Council a chance to discuss this further.

The mayor says the town does $37,000 of in kind work for them. “As I said, the discussion last year was it was supposed to be a one-time deal.”

Councillor Howe says “One thing we can’t forget is that there’s a lot of corporate sponsorship they had that has gone away. I agree we should continue to support Grizfest.” He asks about the Chamber’s Fee For Service contract.

Councillor Mackay recommends that Council approve the Fee For Service and Grant In Aid requests for TR Cares, Success by 6, Forever Young, TR Cares-Work in Progress, Arts Council and Hospice Society for this year only.

Councillor Howe says he thought the point of the Fee For Service grant was that these wouldn’t have to come forward every year. Councillor Caisley says that his issue is that some of these groups are basing their spending on having that money.

Financial manager Chris Leggett cautions Council that he hasn’t received budget data from TR Cares. He is concerned that might set a dangerous precedent moving forward.

Councillor Caisley asks why is this before us then, if they haven’t provided all the information?

Barry Elliott says this was just to continue the discussion forward. He wasn’t expecting a decision be made tonight. “It is important that Council know that these requests have been made, but also important to know what is missing.”

Councillor Mackay asks: Hasn’t Council done this one year at a time in the past? He says he prefer that. He’d like to know why there’s such an increase this year.

Leggett says in addition to TR Cares, TR Hospice Society has two years worth of funding set aside. The Grant in Aid request says the group must have evidence of financial need for funding, but he says this is just his interpretation of the information required.

Councillor Kirby asks if Council can use the same process as with the museum, to review the Fee For Service allocations at the end of the calendar year.

Councillor Howe says he would prefer to see it approved for all three years, because that was the point of the Fee For Service policy.

Councillor Mackay says it isn’t an onerous process for the Grant In Aid. Councillor Krakowka says he doesn’t see why they created the Fee For Service process in the first place. “Is there something in the proposal that says which way to go? To determine the criteria?”

Mayor McPherson says he got the impression from this Council that they want to be hands on.

Elliott says the criteria for a Fee For Service Grant is that it is multi year. Grant in aid is for one time applications. “This was a chance to simplify the process,” he says.

Leggett say multiyear funding is a benefit to the tax payer. “Each request is twenty pages. We’re probably looking at a thousand dollars of staff time in cost savings not having to do this each year. It’s tough to justify the cost benefit ratio for a $2000 grant in aid if it costs $1000 to prepare.”

Councillor Kirby says if Council is going to deal with one group one way, they need to treat them all the same way. “We can say yes to these groups, but we will reassess at the end of the year.”

Motion is defeated.

Councillor Howe makes a motion to approve these groups for three years: WIP, Success by 6, Forever Young and Arts Council.

It is asked if he wants to amend it to read review at end of year. Howe says no. He says the TR Museum does not have proper documentation, but these other groups have completed their applications. Let’s move on.

Elliott says their applications are complete, but not in their deliverables.

Councillor Caisley calls the question. Passes. Councillor Kirby is opposed, stating she is against the way the recommendation is written.


Council made a resolution to support an application for a $10,000 UBCM Asset Management Grant.


Councillor Caisley had a tour of the community centre.

Councillor Kirby has been away, so has nothing to report

Councillor Howe met with sportsman association. Gun range is currently not in compliance. Have a lot of things to do to get it into compliance. May be asking for assistance. A while back, Gordie Graham approached council about a family ATV park. He wants to know if it is too late to bring this in to this year’s budget discussions. He wants to know if the town owns that area. He says there’s been lots of reports about petty crime around town. He’s wondering if the district can purchase trail cams so people can use it to monitor if there’s coyotes in the yard or someone siphoning gas. Perhaps it would bring down crime.

Councillor Mackay says he just got back, so he doesn’t have much to report. However, he would like to mention the parking lot by the VIC. He knows it has been brought up before, but can something be done about it. Elliott says that Walter is planning on removing those trucks very soon. Two of the vehicles are sitting with expired plates. He expects them to be removed any day now.

Councillor Krakowka is wondering about roadway in front of the VIC. Nothing has been done for a week. He took a tour of the VIC with Ken Klikach. He says something new that has been coming up is automated dog water. Also, wondering about an electric car charge station. Also, wondering if they can get the back section paved. He says he attended sportsman meeting earlier in the week, then went to library board meeting today, where a couple things that were brought up. He wonders why the library was charged for getting a photocopy at the District office when the library is a line item in the District budget. He asks why Tumbler Ridge isn’t going to the trade fairs in Grande Prairie and Prince George and Calgary.

The mayor says he attended the trade shows in Vancouver and Calgary, and it was frustrating explaining to every single person where Tumbler Ridge is, but he agrees that the closer shows might be worthwhile.

Attended Success by 6 meeting. They are looking for a road closure for a spring fever event on April 25. They want to have a bike course set up and a BBQ.

On June 5 there is a hoop dancer coming in for We Love Kids day. He is just wondering if the district can help cover the offset cost for that event. He moves that the District proved up to $200 so that there is not charge for the hoop dancer event. Passes.

Mayor McPherson says he’s been sick for the last few weeks, so not s lot to report, but has got regional support for highway 52 paving. He says he was invited to pie throwing event for Easter, but won’t be able to attend. He hopes some members of Council will be able to attend.