Regular Meeting of Council: April 4, 2016

Trent Ernst, Editor

Present Councillor Caisley (Chair), Councillors Kirby, Howe, Mackay and, by phone, Scott



Bev Fournier came to provide a year-end review on behalf of the Forever Young Society. She says thank you to Council for the grant last year. Fournier says they were able to save some money on insurance, as the computers they have are basically useless, so they used the money they saved to hire a janitor. They had a garage sale and a craft sale which they made money on.


Council Proclaimed April as Daffodil month, despite the fact that Tumbler Ridge isn’t getting any flowers, as the nursery is out of flowers.



Invitation from UNBC for the Mayor to attend the Northeast Regional Advisory Council meeting on April 11, 2016 in Fort St. John.


Correspondence received March 21, 2016 from Boreas Coal Limited (doing business as Glencore) enclosing a copy of their application for a Permit under the provisions of the Environmental Management Act.



A note was sent to inform Council of Spring Fever Healthy Living Family Event hosted by Success by Six on May 14, 2016 and to make them aware the Community Centre lower parking lot will be closed for a portion of the event.


Council authorized registration and related travel expenses in the approximate amount of $765.06 for Mayor McPherson to attend the 2016 Mayors Caucus in Fort St. John on May 1- 3, 2016.


(Council then moved into a special meeting of Council, postponed from the week previous.)



Representatives from the Chamber came before Council to discuss their Fee for Service proposal. They presented three options to Council. The Chamber manages manage the Visitor Centre (VIC) on the District’s behalf. Originally, says Chamber President Stephanie Janes, the contract was to keep the VIC open from May long weekend to September long weekend.

With increased visitation, however, they decided to keep the VIC open year round last year. “This has been extremely successful,” says Janes. She says the number of visitors jumped to nearly 10,000 people last year, nearly doubling the year before, and a 350 percent increase in sales.

While the Chamber was able to cover the increase expenses last year, this year, they need to make a choice. They can go back to operating only four months, but they will, she says, lose out on many shoulder season visitors. There would be a small increase in the Fee for Service grant.

Option two would see the VIC stay open for 12 months a year, at an increase of $101,153 to the District. She says this is double the current budget, but would see the centre stay open an additional eight months.

Option three is to stay open all year, but to stay open longer to catch the travelers who are arriving early or late.

Chamber Manager Jerrilyn Schembri says this last weekend wouldn’t be captured in option one, and the chamber saw 51 people come through.

Councillor Scott asks if they VIC sees lots of snowmobilers. Schembri says not so many, as they typically come in early and leave late. But while they don’t come in that often, they do call a lot to find out snow conditions.

Councillor Howe asks if the visitation numbers tracks locals as well. Yes, says Schembri. He asks if people are signing in multiple times. No, says Schembri. They are coming in for the shopping, they are coming in for the Lunch and Learn sessions.

Councillor Howe asks about the $14,000 in merchandise sold. “Does that go back to the artist?” 80 percent goes back to the artist, says Janes, while the Chamber keeps 20 percent.

Councillor Mackay asks if they know where the visitation is coming from?

We have that information, says Schembri, but not for 2015. She says the Geopark is bringing in a lot more tourists. Most of the visitation is coming regionally and provincially. In 2014, 1400 visitors were from Tumbler Ridge, 2065 were from BC, 1000 from Alberta, just under 1000 from the rest of Canada and the remaining 200 or so from the rest of the world.

Councillor Kirby asks about the increase in the pay to the manager. Janes says it’s due to longer hours, as well as when they hired, there was no staff and no building to manage. The job responsibilities have gone up, she says.

Secondly, says Schembri, they want to talk about the Job Creation Program. Last year, they tried to get it off the ground, but were not able to. “What we’re asking is that you would transfer that money from last year to this year,” says Schembri. Council will make a decision on that at the next Council meeting.

Finally, says Schembri, the chamber is looking for support from the District to celebrate 35 years from the date the town was signed into existence. Council supports the party and will decide on the scope at a later date. Councillor Howe opposed.


Minor Hockey is looking for a fee waiver for their banquet at the hotel. “How many do we have,” asks Councillor Howe? Four more, says CAO Jordan Wall. Motion is carried.



Council approved the Tumbler Ridge Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club’s Grant-in-Aid application for 2016 in the amount of $100,000 for the purchase of a snow groomer. Councillor Howe moves to amend that the money only be granted once the club promised to insure the new Groomer against theft, vandalism and destruction.

Howe says this is another way to attract tourism. “You can see them lined up at Shell. The club is getting them out to the mountains here; it’s up to the businesses to get the snowmobilers to spend money in town.” He says it is money well spent. If the groomer lasts ten years, he says, that’s only $10,000 per year.


Council approved the Grizzly Valley Saddle Club’s Grant-in-Aid application for 2016 in the amount of $22,950 for the purpose of fence repairs and hosting a Fall Fair.


Council approved the Tumbler Ridge Youth Services Society’s Fee for Service application for 2016 – 2018 for the purpose of funding annual recurring youth centre expenses in the following amounts: Year 1 – $45,000; Year 2 – $46,000; and Year 3 – $47,000.


Council approved the TR Cares/Tumbler Ridge Community Association Responding to Essential Services’ Grant-in-Aid application for 2016 in the amount $7,500 for the purpose of funding the “Good Food Box Program”.



One of the suggestions coming up in the budget processing was the idea of wrapping the District Highlander. This can be done in Dawson Creek, and would cost $5,500, plus the cost for design. This would need to be replaced every four to six years. It takes about a week to do, and staff would need to ferry the vehicle to Dawson Creek and back. Council approved the $5,500 to wrap the Highlander. Councillor Scott asks what the life span of the vehicle is. About the same as the wrap, says Wall.


Council asked staff to look at the cost of expanding and upgrading the local camping facilities. Staff recommends a committee be struck to come up with the priorities for this. Council approved $8000 for this preliminary work, and to create a Camping Facilities Upgrades and Expansion committee, with members to be appointed by the mayor. Motion passes.


Creating a cart path from the RV park to the golf course poses some logistical problems, says Wall. Part of the path would cross over Crown Land, which would require permission from them in order to build this path. It is likely, he says in his report, that the Provincial Government would have additional standards that the District would have to meet. In addition, the route would require numerous road crossings, which would require amendments to the by-laws, and possibly would contravene provincial regulations. A portion of the path has already been established as an ATV use. Dual use, he warns, might come at an additional cost. Staff estimate it would cost about $600,000 for an unpaved path, which represents the engineering work required to build a wide trail and slope stabilization to get down the hill. Howe says this isn’t what Council was looking at. Wall says, yes, but there are issues around drainage, road crossings, etc. He says if they build it knowing it is multi-purpose, and the District is taking on the liability for it, they need to do it right.

“I don’t think Council was expecting to spend half, a quarter of this amount on this,” says Councillor Howe. Councillor Scott says when they do put an Asset Management Committee together, they can look at it. “But for me, there are other priorities,” she says.


An additional 30X60 storage building to house 18 carts would cost approximately $155,000.  Councillor Howe asks if they build the cart shed, does the operator get all the money for it? Wall says by the time they get to it, the contract would be renegotiated anyway. Howe asks if the money from the current cart shed goes to the contractor? Yes.

Councillor Howe says it doesn’t make sense to build a building and have other people make money on it. “It’s a little expensive for 18 carts.” He says he’d love to see it, but he wonders if Screaming Eagle would be willing to put something in.

Wall says with an operating lease of only one year, he can’t see them doing something like that.

Councillor Kirby says she knows some other communities allow others to build their own cart storage.


Staff was asked to look at costs and options or purchasing or renting a mulcher for trail maintenance. A Bobcat with mulcher attachments could be purchased for $110,000 to $135,000. However, if the District were to purchase the mulcher, says Wall, staff would need to be trained. Due to the nature of their work, he says in his report, mulchers often breakdown in the field, meaning the operator would best be a ticketed mechanic in order to cut down on time lost in sending a mechanic to repair. But this would result in the District having a high operating cost to operate the device, and would pull trained staff away from other duties.

The alternative, says Wall, is to rent the mulcher, at a cost of between $600 to $850 per km, though this is just an estimate. By renting, says Wall, there is  a chance a local business may decide to purchase this equipment, which would bring down the cost and stimulate the economy.

If the District were to purchase this, he says, staff recommends that it not be loaned or rented out to the public, as the liability would be very high. He does not recommend the District buy a Mulcher.

Councillor Howe says $75,000 would get about 100 km of the mulching done.

Council approved $75,000 for the mulching services, and moved to create a committee to come up with a plan of attack.


MMBC has indicated that Tumbler Ridge may not qualify for the program. It’s a complete game changer, and will require a lot of thought around it. Wall recommends this gets tabled.

Councillor Kirby suggests a second pick-up for recyclables and contract the sorting out. Wall says other communities have seen a 700 percent increase, so moving into curbside would cause other issues. Would need a new building, for instance.

Councillor Scott says we need to discuss this further and look at all the options. Discussion is tabled.


Recently, Mark Deeley came before Council to discuss the idea of turning the pond behind the Visitor Centre into a municipal fish pond. In order to gather the information that would be required to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Environment, says Wall in his report, a 2013 study contracted by the District indicated it would cost approximately $150,000. Back then, the District worked with SNC-Lavalin to have an estimate done on how much it would cost to learn the geotechnical changes that would be required. “In order to submit this to the Ministry of Environment,” says Wall, “we would need to identify drainage paths, retention areas for storm water, conduct a subsurface site investigation to determine the in-situ permeability and water storage capacity of the subsurface materials, and a number of other requirements.”

And that, he says, is only the start. After that, no more work might be required, but, it is also possible, says Wall, that the work required after will be expensive as the District attempts to meet Provincial requirements as well as having the water brought to a habitable zone for the fish. “This project has a high degree of uncertainty as expensive steps will need to be taken before the cost of the next step will be known. There will be no guarantees in this project that the work would ultimately be successful. It is possible that the completion of this project will result in a total cost of $300,000–$500,000, possibly more.”

He says that the next step would be to approve $165,000 in the 2016 budget to conduct the investigation outlined in the SNC Lavalin report as well as hire an environmental consultant for water quality testing. He recommends contracting for the water quality testing first as this will be a much smaller cost and inform on whether or not a fish pond is physically feasible.

Councillor Mackay says there are too many ifs in this. “It’s just a muddy slough,” he says.

Councillor Howe says the initial idea was good, but he thinks it’s a dead issue.

Councillor Mackay asks if Quality Lake is an option.


Wall says road paving falls under the mandate of the Asset Management Committee. “Should Council want to heighten the priority of paving the roads the recommended course of action would be to speak with the Councillors appointed to the Asset Management Committee and have them discuss it during Asset Management Committee,” he recommends.

Councillor Howe says there was a discussion about a unit that could drive about and get a sense of the lifespan of the road. He’s wondering if there is a plan to bring the van to Tumbler Ridge. Wall says that is already underway. He suggests that crack sealing could be bumped up. Council votes to include paving expansion in their 2016 strategic plan.


Councillor Kirby asked that the District look at creating a children’s summer program, which would provide activities for children through-out the day by offering arts, crafts, games, and trips. “The program would fall under the insurance coverage we currently have,” writes Wall in his report, “but would require staff with first aid training. There will need to be one supervisor for every eight children enrolled in the program. Due to the planning and preparation that is required for a program like this staff does not feel we would be able to offer the program for the 2016 season.”

Councillor Kirby says the report is great. “You’ve given us a lot of information.” She says she has talked to a number of residents in town, and this would help families stay. “Of course it’s not going to happen this year, but she moves that staff begin preparation for a summer fun in the sun style program for 2017.

Councillor Howe asks if this is something that would be covered by the families?

Kirby says in other communities, this is something offered for free.

Howe says it’s cheap babysitting, and if so, the families should be paying for it.

Councillor Scott says this isn’t the District’s responsibility. The library has their summer reading program, and the Community Centre has their summer programming.

Wall says Council needs to determine the costs now, and if they are passing that cost on to the users, as it would be a shame to get the program ready, then not be able to determine what the costs are, and have it fall apart.

Councillor Kirby suggests running it at cost recovery.

Motion passes, Scott opposed.


Council voted to set aside $60,000 in the 2016 budget to move forward with the land options. “At this point staff would use 2016 to work on the planning and legal issues involved with this process,” says Wall in his report. He says chances are the Official Community Plan would need to be updated along with a number of other policies and by-laws before moving ahead with this.

As this would require a lot of work, the recommendation is to spend 2016 investigating what needs to be done to bring this to reality, so that there is a clearer picture for 2017. “There are many unknowns in this type of project so staff is unable to make a firm commitment on the 2017 timetable but will keep Council updated throughout the course of this project,” says Wall.

Secondly, a cogeneration plant in conjunction with BC Hydro will require further research by the Economic Development department, but would not require any additional cost at this point in time.

Councillor Howe asks why these two are put together. Wall says this was the last report, and he didn’t have time to separate them. He doesn’t want to see it get held up if anyone opposes either. Nobody opposes either. “Good thing Jordan put them together,” quips Howe.


Earlier in the year, Council approved $480,000 for walking path upgrades, but staff recommends a walking path committee be struck to give guidance on which paths to upgrade and where to expand. An additional $1500 is approved in the Special Projects Budget.


In order to do this properly, says Wall the fencing of the park should be constructed to a height of approximately six feet tall to prevent dogs jumping the fence. The posts of the fence need be sunk in the ground and the fence flush with the ground with added support at the bottom to prevent harm to dogs who attempt to dig under. Due to these requirements the current fencing at the ball diamonds would not be able to be used. Dog parks should be circular in nature to discourage digging at the corners with a double gate to prevent escaping. The recommendation is to build a dog park that is 200 feet in diameter with six foot fencing and a double gate entrance. The park would contain two concrete benches and a Doggy Doo Dispenser and garbage can. The annual operating expense would be about $10,000, and would be another facility for Public Works to maintain. Councillor Kirby says she would like to have seen an off leash dog park group behind this, rather than having the District do it. “I would like to have seen a little more commitment,” she says. Councillor Scott agrees and suggests this go back to the community.

Councillor Caisley asks if they should be forming a dog park committee? Wall says what the discussion is sounding like is Council wants to see a community group behind it.

Councillor Mackay says he could get behind it if there were a group behind it.

Council sets the issue aside until a point in time as the community forms a group.


Councillor Mackay has been advocating for improvements to the Flatbed Swimming Hole. The estimated cost for this project is $140,000, and would see an 18,000 square foot park with an upgraded path and sand. This would include tree, stump, and overburden removal, topsoil and spread, grass installation, eight picnic tables, three garbage bins, and extra sand. “It is important to note that this area lies on a flood plain which could damage or destroy improvements made by the District,” writes Wall in his report.

Councillor Howe says he didn’t expect it to be this expensive. “I’m not interested in spending that kind of money on this; $144,000 would be better spent on fixing the pool.”

Councillor Mackay says the idea was to keep the place rustic, just opening up some more area.

Councillor Kirby says Flatbed is a key waterfront attraction. “Council should be looking at beautification and revitalization down there.” She says having a committee take a look at what to do there, because she thinks it is something that the community should be working on every year. “We should be doing yearly upgrades and looking at forming a committee at what we should be doing down there.” Another option, she says, is take it to the Tourism Advisory Committee.

Wall says staff missed the mark on this. He says he doesn’t want to keep taking stabs in the dark, so he agrees that getting more feedback would be a good thing. He says an option might also be to put it out to an RFP. “We have a certain amount of money, and we don’t know what it will look like, so putting it out to an RFP might be the way to go.”

Councillor Scott says her worry is about the ten year flood destroying any work that gets done.

Councillor Mackay proposes putting $25,000 for improvement to the Flatbed swimming area. Passes. Councillor Scott opposed.


There have been two changes to the 2016 capital and special projects budget list as approved by Council at the February 23rd special budget meeting, says Wall in his report. First, the Public Works building envelope has been moved from 2016 to 2017. “This is due to the other building envelope work that is expected to be done in 2017. By having these projects undertaken in the same year we hope to reduce the overall cost of the projects.” Secondly, the Community Centre Storage building has been removed as per Council’s motion on March 21.

He says the recycling building is still on this list, and that will be removed in the future, based on the discussion today.

A number of projects approved by Council through motions previous to the February 23 meeting will also appear on the capital list. This includes $236,000 for Cobra head LED lighting replacement, $40,000 for an efficiency review, $5,500 for a board workshop, $90,000 for winter sand, and $5,000 for NCLGA.