Regular Meeting of Council: April 15, 2014

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

Present: Mayor Wren, Councillors Litster, Snyder, Caisley, Leggitt, Mackay, McPherson

Petitions and Delegations

The Lions Club of Tumbler Ridge

Frank Walsh, President, Lions Club of Tumbler Ridge, came before council to request a Free Use Waiver for a room at the Trend Mountain Inn on May 3, 2014  for the Lions Club 30th Anniversary Celebration. Councillor Snyder leaves, as he is a member of the Lions. Councillor Mackay moves to allot one of the days left. Passed.

Mike Bernier, MLA

Mike Bernier came before council to provide updates, but he is changing that. “I came today with a bunch of things to talk about,” says Bernier, “but with all that’s happening I feel it is better for me to listen to you. I am here to support you. It’s a great day to be here, but it’s an unfortunate day with the news that came down today. It was such a surprise to get a text about it this morning. We wish we could manage the world coal prices, but you can’t.”

Councillor Mackay asks if it is possible for Bernier to “grease the wheels” to get people to town to help with employment insurance. He knows that’s Federal, but in the past, people have come to Tumbler Ridge in situations like this. He also asks how the BC Jobs plan will help us in Tumbler Ridge.

Bernier says he will do what he can to get support for the workers in Tumbler Ridge. He says he will talk to some of his counterparts, and that there should be the option of a roaming office that come come to Tumbler Ridge to help.

As far as the BC Jobs plan, Bernier says that right now, the government is looking at pinpointing where those jobs will be. “When you say 100,000 jobs, that doesn’t narrow it down. Do you need 3000 welders, or 300? And where?”

He says that the government is looking at rolling out funds specific to skills training, but that there is pressure on Northern Lights College to use dollars wisely.  “One of the things we’ve seen is if you don’t train people where’re the need is, you are less likely to attract people to that area,” he says, so he’s hoping that there will be more funds to train people up here.

Of course, many of the people who have been laid off have a trade, says Bernier. What options do they have? “You don’t want to see people leaving. The work you’ve been doing to diversify is what will get you through days like today.”

Councillor McPherson asks about wind power. He points out there is another project ready to go, all they need is a power purchase agreement. “Is there a way to put pressure on BC Hydro?

Bernier says he recently had a meeting with the Canadian Wind Energy Association. And in fact, there are four projects in the Peace that are ready to go. He thinks that it’s a good option, but points out there’s a premium on wind energy, and so BC Hydro has not been focusing on any more wind.

Councillor Litster says she’s one of the people affected by the cuts to Northern Lights College. She says its frustrating to see the skills gap, but not being able to bring the two sides together. “Government needs to be able to put it together and to do it effectively.

Bernier agrees, but says that colleges are independent, and every college offers courses based on what they think is needed.

Councillor  Caisley mentions that, while the closure affects 415 people working for Walter, there will be more affected who are providing services to the mine. He says we didn’t get caught by surprise like last time, and we are working on a sustainability plan, but he thinks it would be a good idea to get together with the executives of the mining companies to have a frank discussion on coal prices. “Would you be interested in joining in that, or would it be more advantageous to do it down in Victoria?”

Bernier says that’s a great idea, and something that should be done at a community level, because that’s where the workers are. “They owe it to meet with you,” he says. “This is where they are, this is where’re their employees are. I think they owe it to you, and I would fully support you in that. You need to know what their plans are so you can plan yourself. If you look at what’s happening in oil and gas up in Fort St. John, they’re doing exactly that. They can’t guarantee that what they think will happen will happen, but at least council there knows what the plan is.”

Councillor Leggett asks what sort of reaction the Geopark presentation has been having in Victoria, and thanks Bernier for using his most recent speech to talk about the Geopark and the Museum.

Bernier says that every two or three weeks, each MLA is allowed to stand up and speak about something from their riding that is non partisan. He chose to speak about the geopark and the museum. “The presentation that the mayor and Dr helm made was well received. The fossil discoveries up here were almost embarrassingly unknown. I’ve spoken to Forestry Minister Steve Thompson about what opportunities there are around fossil management. He tasked staff to go look at that. They’re going to come forward with some ideas.  Also met with Tourism Minister Yamamoto. I brought in my laptop and showed the provinces website. What’s the first thing you see? Kinuseo falls. I was just at the museum, made an announcement and came with a cheque for 30,000 to help pay for the work that is happening around the geopark. You look at the volunteers, and they’re the ones that keep the community going. You have world class potential here, and I want to do what I can to help you.”

Councillor McPherson says what happened today has set us back ten years in our work to attract small businesses and businesses in the downtown core. He says that he’s head a lot of talk about the road to Kinuseo falls, but that’s all it’s been: talk.

Bernier says that the road to Kinuseo is a big concern. He’s talked to people about the challenges. The biggest of which is that there are three different owners of the road: a portion of it is looked after by the Ministry of Transportation, a  portion is forestry, and a portion is parks. There are different standards and requirements for each section. “Can we make it a complete Ministry of Transportation road? Can we change the designation,” he asks? If so, then there’s a requirement that you have to have a grader on it at least once a year.

“I’m doing what I can for Tumbler Ridge,” says Bernier. “Do things happen at a snail’s pace? I’d be the first one to tell you that. I miss the days when I was mayor, and you could just have a good discussion around the table then ask staff to take care of it. Now you have 85 people fighting for a piece of a very small pie.”

Mayor Wren asks that, with the government looking at spending ten billion dollars on site C, shouldn’t they look at investing in more wind energy, especially the ones that would provide 600 temporary jobs for a town that just lost 415?

Bernier says that BC Hydro has a mandate to the rate payers, and that wind isn’t as cost effective as water. Wind currently in the present plan. He says that when he met with the Wind Energy association, they told him very bluntly that the northeast has some of the best wind resources in the province. He suggests that the town write a letter to BC Hydro, encouraging them to look at adding more wind power.

Correspondence

Ducks Unlimited Canada

Ducks Unlimited Canada requested free use of a room at the Trend Mountain Centre for their 19th Annual Banquet and Auction on June 7 2014. Councillor McPherson says that those uses are for non-profits. “I’ve been to Ducks Unlimited events, and they don’t look like a nonprofit.” Staff will look into it.

Bylaws

Cemetery Bylaw

Council gave first, second and third readings to the District of Tumbler Ridge Cemetery Bylaw. Councillor Snyder is wondering how the pricing was determined. Does that price include engraving? No. Councillor Litster was opposed to all three readings.

 Zoning Bylaw Amendment

Council was to give third reading to the Zoning Bylaw Amendment, but based on what’s happening with the idling of the Wolverine Mine, Councillor Mackay moves to table the motion. Passed.

Sign Amendment Bylaw

Council gave first, second and third reading to the Sign  Amendment Bylaw.

Water Rates Bylaw

Council gave first, second and third reading of the Water Rates  Bylaw. Councillor Snyder opposed all readings. He can’t support it, he says, when the hospital rates are so high, while the car wash is so low. CFO Candi Laporte says that hospitals and hotels are based on rooms and outlets, and these rates are based on historic figures.

Sewer Rates Bylaw

Council gave first, second and third reading of the Sewer Rates Bylaw

New Business

Tangible Capital Asset Policy Amendment

Council approved the amended Tangible Capital Asset Policy.

WILDFIRE PROTECTION PLAN

Council approved engaging the services of Silvicon Services to update the District of Tumbler Ridge Community Wildfire Protection Plan at a cost to the District of $19,465, 50% of which is covered by grant money. Councillor McPherson thinks the one that they’ve done here has been done well, and hopes future ones are done as well. Councillor Mackay says that everyone should take a walk through the area behind the high school. Councillor Snyder mentions he has, and that there are a lot of logs in there. It doesn’t look finished, he says. He wonders if the road was reactivated so people could get firewood back there,

TUMBLER RIDGE COMMUNITY ARTS COUNCIL – LEASE RENEWAL

Council enter into a lease agreement with the Tumbler Ridge Arts Council for Rooms 2 and 3 and the Art Gallery for $1.00 [ONE DOLLAR] per year for a one year term starting December 1, 2013 and ending December 1, 2014.

 AIRPORT LAND LEASE – RIDGE ROTORS INC.

Council authorized the Mayor and Corporate Officer to renew the lease agreement with Ridge Rotors Inc. for a five year term from April 15, 2014 to March 31, 2019 at a monthly lease rate of $78.00 plus GST.

 AIRPORT LAND LEASE – YELLOWHEAD HELICOPTERS LTD.

Council authorized the Mayor and Corporate Officer to execute an airport land lease agreement with Yellowhead Helicopters Ltd. for a three year term from April 15, 2014 to March 31, 2017 at a monthly lease rate of $25.24 plus GST.

 OFFICE SPACE LEASE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Council entered into a lease agreement with the Tumbler Ridge Chamber of Commerce for the office space at the Community Centre for $1.00 [ONE DOLLAR] for the period ending December 31, 2014. There is some discussion as to why, as the Chamber of Commerce is supposed to be operating out of the Visitor Information Centre. CAO Barry Elliott explains that will happen soon, and as soon as that happens, they can cancel this lease.

TUMBLER RIDGE CHILDREN’S CENTRE SOCIETY LEASE – RENEWAL

Council defeated a motion to enter into a three year lease agreement with the Tumbler Ridge Children’s Centre Society at $1.00 [ONE DOLLAR] a year for the space known as the Daycare and free use of the Arena and Aquatic Centre for daycare programming purposes. Councillor Leggett says he has issues that the daycare is not operating at full capacity and council wants to talk with them before signing the lease.

TUMBLER RIDGE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION LEASE – RENEWAL

Council entered into a three year lease agreement with the Tumbler Ridge Library Association for the space known as the public library for $1.00 [ONE DOLLAR] a year starting November 15, 2013 to November 15, 2016.

 TUMBLER RIDGE YOUTH SERVICES SOCIETY – LEASE RENEWAL

Council entered into a three year lease agreement with the Tumbler Ridge Youth Services Society for the space known as the Youth Centre for $1.00 [ONE DOLLAR] per year starting December 1, 2013 to December 1, 2016.  Councillor Snyder opposes the five additional room uses that is addition to the lease. He is the only one, and the motion passes.

COMMUNITY CENTRE RESTAURANT LEASE

Council approved the Tumbler Ridge Community Centre Restaurant Lease Agreement with Tracey Fitzpatrick as submitted, and authorized Mayor Wren and the Chief Administrative Officer to sign this document on the District’s behalf. There is some discussion around the tax rates for the first year, as the restaurant has not been assessed. For the first year, property tax is based on a dollar, but in future years, they will be levied against the assessment. Councillor Leggett asks where the lease rate of $2200/month comes from; it came from the submission from the proponent. He asks about the holding fee of $3000; this is to encourage them to renegotiate the lease rate in good time, or else they will wind up paying $800 more a month. Councillor Snyder asks about the maintenance of the equipment. Elliott replies that the proponent needs to provide proof of servicing by qualified person, or else it is a broken lease.

NORTH CENTRAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION

Council rescheduled the May 6, 2014 Council Meeting to May 5 to allow for Council to travel to Fort St. John for the NCLGA being held on May 7 – 9, 2014.

Capital project preapproval

Council preapproved funding $168,968 for a variety of projects.

$77,468 for sustainability planning, which is already underway

$62,000 in playground equipment

$16,500 for pool cupboard repairs which were approved last time, but not given an amount

$22,000 in repairs for the driving range curtain for the golf course.

$2,000 for assessments to the District office building which will soon need envelope repairs.

CAO Barry Elliott is asked why these are up for pre-approval, rather than in the budget, which should be approved in about a month. Elliott addresses each on specifically.

Playground. This is the amount to prepare the ground and doing the base work it is my understanding that council wants it done ASAP.

Pool cupboards were missed earlier. This needs to be ready for the shutdown.

Curtain at the driving range, the hope is to get the driving range open ASAP. The curtain is rotten and non repairable. There is a safety concern there.

District office building assessment. One of the local strata is bringing in an engineer. We have the opportunity to pay a lot less if we do this on their timetable. It’s a small amount but it’s linked to another project.

He points out that the total budget is about $14 million, this represents an insignificant amount.

Climate Action Revenue Incentive

Council approved the climate action revenue incentive for info.

Councillor’s Business

Councillor Mackay attended multicultural feast. He says council had been debating on making a donation on the spirit of June peace powwow. Did that come back? Answer: No.  He was at the trade fairs, and had some complaints about road to Kinuseo.

Councillor McPherson attended the Fort St. John and Dawson trade fairs. “If everyone who said they were coming to Tumbler Ridge comes this summer,” he says, “we will be busy just with those folks.” He points to the signs that have been fixed for the pole downtown. He says that a lot of work was needed. Also there has been some discussion about moving the pole to the new VIC when it’s built. He also wants to see some money budgeted for maintenance in the future.

Councillor Caisley says he was going to talk about the chamber, but he discussed that earlier,

Councillor Snyder attended the Fort St. John trade show, and says they ran out of brochures. He says estimates were of 10,000 people there, and a lot of interest. On April 9 he attended the PRLGA meeting, where  Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman stepped down as chair of Northern Medical Trust. She requested that someone step forward to fill the position, lest it go south. On April 11, he attended the Senior’s AGM and supper. He met with Mike Bernier earlier today. He extends congratulations to the Emperor’s Challenge committee for filling up so soon, and to Daniel Helm for winning the Super Ironman competition at Storm the Wall.

Mayor Wren attended the Fort St. John trade fair. He suggests purchasing some A/V equipment to have the video running on a larger screen than a laptop. He also suggests building a video library showcasing ATVing, river boating, etc. He commends the local Filipino community, who did excellent job at multicultural fair.

He says that today has been a busy day. He has been in touch with provincial and federal government. There is lots of work that needs to be done so that resources are provided, and employment opportunities are provided, be that wind power or mining. Hopefully price will recover. He is setting up a meeting with manager of PRC to see where things are at with the price of coal.