Trent Ernst, Editor
Present: Mayor McPherson, Councillors Caisley, Kirby, Howe, Krakowka, Scott, Mackay
Before the meeting starts, the mayor welcomed Boyd Clark as the new community services manager. He has, says the mayor, 15 years of experience, and a masters in Public Administration.
PETITIONS AND DELEGATIONS
BEAR SMART COMMUNITY PROGRAM
Crystal McMillan, Ministry of the Environment, called in to discuss the Bear Smart Community Program and to request that Council consider moving forward with the development of a “Bear Hazard Assessment” and a “Bear Smart Education Program” specific to Tumbler Ridge.
McMillan has been with conservation service since 2004, she says, delivering the Bear Smart program. She works directly with municipalities to implement program. She sits on Provincial Bear working group, which works to improve the effectiveness of the program.
“I eat sleep and breathe this program,” she says.
She says her understanding is Tumbler Ridge has a wildsafe coordinator there, which is a link for her to work with the community.
“I have authored bear hazard assessments and strategic management plans, and am fluent in how to do that and how to do that in a way that is understandable,” she says. “Bear Hazard assessment is key document, as you understand how bears gain access to community, what’s attracting them to the community. Looks at waste management. Addresses risks and hazards in community. Then move to a management plan. Take a related bylaw and see how to improve it.”
She says there are eight bear smart communities in the province. These communities have worked through the criteria for the program, and twenty others working towards completing the program, plus many others that are not working towards being a bear smart communities, but are implementing portions of the program.
She says that, because of the potential high capital costs to replace infrastructure, the community needs to take a look at high risk areas of town, and address those areas first.
Councillor Howe asks what the costs of creating a plan is.
She says its on a community basis. But her last Assessment and Management plan cost $10,000. Those are just rough guesses, she says, but can’t see it being too much more.
Howe asks about translocation and how the District can implement that.
That’s a decision made by the COs, she says. It’s not the most successful or the most humane way. They get dragged 90 km away into an area where they have no idea what the number of bears are. She says the COs have a decision matrix that guides them. If bears keep coming to the community, they will keep coming back.
But, she says, communities need to deal with the front end of the problem. They need to remove attractants from the community, so we don’t get to a point where the bears keep coming back because they view the community as a source of food.
Councillor Scott asks about the timeline.
McMillan says it will take two or three months to get the plan done. How long to get to Bear Smart community? One to two years.
Scott asks about short term for when the bears come into town next year.
McMillan says the community needs to do a bear hazard assessment and determine high risk areas. “Do you need more education? Do you need to change bylaws? Moving forward from there to determine best way initially.” She says public education is an important piece, but the community also needs bear resistant infrastructure in place as well.
Councillor Caisley asks if bears that are removed are tagged?
If they are removed, they are tagged, she says.
He asks if a bear returns, are they automatically destroyed? Or do they need two tags, or three?
She says the community will need to talk to the COs, but normally it is usually destroyed.
On an average, she says, the COs receive 40-45 calls from residents of Tumbler Ridge each year, and the majority are because bears are getting into attractants. On average, three black bears are destroyed annually in Tumbler Ridge, and a Grizzly was destroyed a couple years ago.
She also recommends also doing a community survey to find out what community members are willing to do to help.
Howe asks if it is easier to convince conservation to translocation once community is bear smart.
She says being a bear smart community should reduce the number of bears in the first place, which is the point. “Translocating bears is hard on the bears, but also hard on people.” It’s a dangerous thing to do, she says. But, in a bear smart community, the CO service doesn offer a higher level of prevention. “They will put more effort into hazing,” she says, as well as other things to discourage bears from hanging about.
Councillor Kirby says they can go through with studies, but if people don’t change the way they treat waste, fruit trees, etc, will it actually make a difference?
McMillan says in Port Alberni, which is a bear smart community, bylaw and the CO service go around to several communities to see if anyone is putting out their trash ahead of time. “It takes time, but giving you a better understanding of what is happening in the community is an important first step.”
Councillor Caisley asks for which communities have seen the most success with the bear smart program.
She says Coquitlam, New Denver, Squamish and Port Alberni are good communities to look at.
SPECTRA ENERGY – UPDATE
Jay Morrison, Lead for Government and External Relations for Spectra came before council to give a high-level overview of what Spectra is doing. He says their Canadian Operations are mostly in BC. Spectra provides the backbone for BC’s natural gas service. In the Tumbler Ridge area, most of the gas is from the Grizzly Valley area, which is moved to Pine River Gas Plant, where it is processed.
Spectra is one of the largest tax payers in BC. Commit $1.2 million to local charities. In Tumbler Ridge, they helped the Global Geopark in upgrading signage and trails this last year a part of the Helping Hands in Action.
Heavy flooding in June damaged some infrastructure. Because of that, they had to shut in the Grizzly Valley Line. On December 8, they hope to be back to pre-flood levels. Plan to do work on Pine River Processing Plant in September of next year. Means this area may see some impact.
he company has plans for expansion over next few years mostly on transmission lines. Jack fish Lake, High Pine, Wyndwood, Spruce Ridge, Aitken Creek and enhanced pipeline reliability. Most of these are between Chetwynd and Taylor. These are looping projects to increase capacity, not to build new right of way.
Enbridge and Spectra have entered a merger agreement. Expected to close in first quarter of 2017. Still two separate companies until it is finalized.
Councillor Scott asks about Kwon plant. It is closed down. Any plans to re-open.
No, he says, but it is not out of the picture.
QUINTETTE PROJECT – UPDATE
Ray Proulx, Senior Coordinator, Community and Environment C&M, Teck Coal Ltd., And Larry Davey. Vice President, Planning & Development, Coal came before council to provide an update on the Quintette Project.
Proulx says it’s been a relatively quiet year for Quintette. He says right now it’s just a matter of keeping the place in good maintenance and keeping their permits in place: water management and effluent permits. “That represents the majority of our work,” he says, though there was some work in reclaiming the old overland conveyor. Davey says there’s lots of things happening around Met coal right now, with coal prices rising more than $300/tonne. The decision to move into care and maintenance was in April of 2014. They’re now down to only four people on the property. Nobody was expecting the sudden price increase, but that’s been driven by supply shortage, because so many mines have shut down around the world. “We also saw China reduce its mining,” he says. “There’s been some supply issues from other mines, some weather driven, some supply driven. It’s a windfall for anyone producing coal right now. But nobody knows what’s going to happen. Because the price spiked so quickly, chances are it will go down just as quickly.”
Right now, he says, Teck is not considering reopening Quintette. “In order for us to do that, we need to look at what the price will do. We need the price to stabilize. We will continue to monitor and wait for a normalization of the coal prices. We are still in the area, and are still committed to the area. We just designated $60,000 for investments in the area. We are committed to the mine and to the assets.”
Mayor asks if the determining factor will be where the price settles to after this spike?
Larry says there will also need to be an increase in demand. “Yes, if the coal price settles in at a higher price that will be good, but we don’t want to be in a position where we are contributing to the oversupply of coal. We need to take a longer term view on the process. We will take advantage of the price and maximize pruduction through our existing properties.”
Councillor Caisley asks what will convince Teck that the prices have stabilized. Davey says it will take time for the demand and the supply to level out. “We’d like to see a year, maybe two, of the prices stabilizing.”
Councillor Mackay asks what sort of time frame they need to start talking to Ridley Terminal before they can start shipping? There are already contracts in place, says Davey, but he’s not sure when those discussions would need to happen
Councillor Scott asks what the life span is on the six remaining properties.
Cardinal River has a life expectancy of 2019, says Davey. It is more cost effective to use current properties than add new ones. Coal Mountain is shutting down next year, but they are able to pick up the slack through the other properties. A significant amount of capital is required to get Quintette back up and running.
Councillor Howe asks if there is a budgeted break even point?
Yes, says Davey, but right now the company is re-looking at the costs. “Over the last three and half years, the coal group has done a good job at reducing costs, so they are looking at Quintette with those new cost estimates. We are continuing to update the Quintette model. The cost of bringing Quintette online in the future will keep being revised.”
Davey says this is not the news he was hoping to deliver. “I was the guy who came and told you we were putting it into care and maintenance, I’d like to be the one to stand before you and tell you that we are re-opening.”
SPEED LIMITS – TUMBLER RIDGE
Correspondence received from Ellen Sager on November 18, 2016 expressing concern about speed limits in Tumbler Ridge requesting a copy of the report that was brought to Council regarding speed limits on Northgate and Southgate. Councillor Kirby says that Mrs Sager was looking for more information around speed limits. The District does have a bylaw saying that the speed limits in town are 30 km unless otherwise posted.
CHETWYND MINE BOUNDARY CORRECTION
Correspondence received from the District of Chetwynd on November 18, 2016 regarding the Willow Creek Load-Out Boundary Correction.
Correspondence received from C. Peters on November 18, 2016 regarding human trafficking / sexual exploitation, youth and child exploitation, youth porn use/addiction in BC.
HIGH ON ICE FESTIVAL 2017
Mayor and Council are invited to participle in the High On Ice Festival 2017 being held February 2017.
COUNCIL PROCEDURE AMENDMENT
Staff is looking at alternatives to reducing the number of Council meetings held per month while ensuring the business of the District is taking place and is recommending that the second regular Council meeting include Policies and Priorities items.
This can be done by amending the Council Procedure Bylaw to indicate that the second meeting of the month would include the Policies and Priorities Committee meeting agenda items.
In past years the District of Tumbler Ridge has had approximately 45 meetings a year. For comparison the City of Dawson Creek and the District of Chetwynd average approximately 25 meetings a year. The attached proposed meeting schedule for 2017 mirrors that of the City of Dawson Creek.
Councillor Howe asks if this will slow the process down or speed it up? Mr Wall says it will move the committee of the whole items into the regular meeting. What slows the process down is discussing things at P&P meetings, then having to wait a month to make a decision.
Councillor Krakowka says they cut down the number of meetings already once this year. He’s worried that it will slow thing down.
“This in no way curtails us from having a special Council meeting if we need it,” says Wall.
Wall says right now there is one decision meeting a month. Moving forward, this would give council two decision making meetings a month.
With 45 meetings a year, he says a significant amount of the work of the Corporate Officer and the CAO go towards planning the meetings. “It’s a significant workload. Communities our size have fewer meetings so as not to overload staff and allow them to do other work.”
For example, says Howe, the Chicken Bylaw. We came up with ideas at a P&P meeting. Would this allow us to vote on it at the same meeting? Would it not make the meetings longer?
Councillor Caisle says if communities like Chetwynd and Dawson can do it, Tumbler Ridge can do it. “The fewer meetings, the better. The less time here, the better.”
Council give first, second and third reading to the District of Tumbler Ridge Council Procedure Amendment Bylaw. Councillor Scott and Krakowka opposed.
Council meetings can be streamed live at Ustream or watched cached at Ustream or Youtube. For regular Council meetings, reports Jordan Wall, the live views average between 0-3. Regular meetings will average 5-15 views from the saved videos. There does seem to be spikes in viewership for budget meetings which have averaged around 30-50 views. However, he says, the viewership numbers do not match the ‘total time watched’ statistics so it is likely that the videos are only watched in small part. The most watched video was the 2016 Budget video which featured staff and council which had approximately 140 views.
STATUTORY APPROVING OFFICER – APPOINTMENT
Under the Land Title Act, the District of Tumbler Ridge may appoint a Statutory Approving Officer. This position, reports Wall, is responsible for approving all Subdivision applications regarding the Municipal lands of the District in accordance with provincial statutes and local bylaws.
There is nobody filling this position currently, but Doug Beale, Public Works Manager, has recently completed the School for Statutory Approving Officers through the Municipal Administrative Training Institute (MATI) and is now qualified for the position, so Council appointed Doug Beale to the position of Statutory Approving Officer.
TRAVEL APPROVAL – PREMIER’S BC NATURAL RESOURCE FORUM 2017
Council approved travel expenses for the Mayor and Councillors wishing to attend the 14th Annual Premier’s BC Natural Resource Forum in Prince George, BC on January 31 – February 2, 2017. Staff will complete registrations and make travel arrangements for those planning to attend.
TRAVEL APPROVAL – MAYORS CAUCUS SPRING MEETING
Council approves travel costs in the approximate amount of $1,200 associated with Mayor McPherson’s attendance at the 2017 Mayors Caucus Spring Meeting.
STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE
See story last issue.
Councillor Mackay just got back, so not a lot to report, but congratulates staff, and welcomes Boyd.
Councillor Scott attended the governance workshop. She says the asset management committee coming back to all of council. At last Asset Management meeting, they were waiting for pavement report, which is in. She suggests providing it to Council for next P&P meeting. She attended food drive. Still a lot of empty houses out there. Suggestion that next year’s date be a little earlier.
Attended District Party and Small Business Christmas Party. Wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday.
Councillor Krakowka attended governance workshop. Went really well.
Councillor Caisley attended food drive. Attended governance workshop.
Councillor Kirby participated in the worker transition call, had meetings with Tourism Advisory Council and attended governance workshop.
Councillor Howe has nothing to report
Mayor McPherson says that much of what he had to say is already said, so he wont repeat it. He was at Coalition conference in Taylor with Mark Bartowski and Jerrilyn Schembri. A lot of interest. No ministers, but a lot of assistants.