Regular Meeting of Council: January 7, 2015

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

Present: Mayor McPherson, councillors Howe, Krakowka, Scott, Kirby, Caisley, Mackay.

Petitions and Delegations

Geopark Update and Open House Invitation

Dr. Charles Helm came before Council to provide an update on the Geopark.

“Thank you for having me here,” says Helm. “It took 23 months from starting to work on this to the time we were designated as a Geopark. We think that’s the fastest ever. We are now the only Geopark in the west, the second in North America and one of 111 across the world.”

Helm says the timing is perfect, with the new Council being elected for four years, as the Geopark has four years, too. “In four years, they will re-evaluate,” he says. As part of their being accepted, the Global Geopark Network gave the Geopark Committee a 14 point list of what they wanted the committee to work on. “The two big ones are the education programs and signage, so as people arrive here they know they are entering a Geopark.”

Helm says the Committee had been told this during the initial inspection, and the committee has been working on it. Still, he says, “we are glad to have winter. There are 86 places that need signs. We’ve divided it into high, medium and low priority.”

He thanks the District for a letter of support.

In spring, he says, the committee is hoping to have an event, and are right now planning activities that would involve the local First Nations. He says that another chance to feature the Geopark again will be at the opening of the Visitor Centre.

“Tomorrow,” he says, “I am going to talk to the Regional District to thank them for the funding. There’s been no direct funding for the Geopark from the District of Tumbler Ridge.” He says that the committee will be asking for a third year of funding, but are not planning on going back year after year. They are exploring five or six other sources for funding. “New Brunswick provides $100,000 funding to the Stonehammer Geopark. In Alberta, they are building a $50-million museum in Grande Prairie, a third of which is being sponsored by the province,” says Helm. Currently, the Province of BC has provided $30,000 to the Geopark.

One of the problems the committee is facing, says Helm, is everyone working on the project is a volunteer. A portion of the funding would go to hiring someone whose job would be to work on the Geopark. “We need a part-time executive director; we are, as far as we know, the only Geopark where all the work is done by volunteers.”

He says they will also be asking the Regional District for $30,000 to do proper marketing. “The best way to market the trails and the waterfalls is to market the Geopark and have everything else fall under that.”

One of the steps the Geopark Network has suggested is twinning, says Helm. “We are looking at the Yanqing Geopark, which has dinosaurs like us, but also the Great Wall. We have the Chinese business aspect here. We are looking at sending a delegation to China later in the year. We have to start thinking internationally. We’re not this little town in the wilderness. The Chinese tourism market is huge. Having a twin Geopark is huge.”

The other crucial thing is finishing the master plan. That’s what we got $30,000 from the Provincial Government. He says that the workshop (which was held January 13) is designed to gather information to accomplish that. He invites Council to attend the open house. “The geopark will succeed with what it has,” says Helm, “but the more buy-in we get, the better it will be. The number of people that have filled in that survey already is remarkable for a community of this size. We’d love to have as many of you attend as possible.”

Which brings us, says Helm, to the idea of councillor liaison. “We have invited Councillor Kirby, who is the tourism liaison, and Councillor Scott, the alternate, to sit on the committee, but we’d love to see Your Worship, as well,” he says to Mayor McPherson.

Helm says that things are happening all the time as word of the Geopark is getting out. “Yesterday I got invited to give the keynote at a conference in Prince George for Western Geographers.

“And just today the museum got a phone call from a pipeline that asked if we can be the repository for any fossils they find. This is happening every day. We are starting to hit critical mass. We know what we have here is world class, but the trick has been to convince the rest of the world.” That, says Helm, is now happening.

He says there is a lot of latitude for the committee to do this their own way. “For instance, Kevin Sharman is working on the ski trail up Flatbed, which gives us a winter aspect that no other or few other Geoparks have.”

Helm says: “I’m really proud of the work the committee has done. We have a great group of volunteers.”

Councillor Howe asks what Helm’s vision is for someone who is out of work in Tumbler Ridge looking to get involved?

Helm says he wants to see businesses in support of the Geopark, but cautions there have to be some standards. “We can’t have everyone just grabbing onto the Geopark name,” he says. “We have a partnership agreement that explains what those standards are. They aren’t extreme, but there needs some sort of collaboration and education. Information needs to be scientifically accurate and so on.”

He says there is one local resident who is interested in doing First Nations tours looking at the plants and how they were used, for instance. And there should be lots of B&B opportunities. But the whole idea is that people will come up with their own ideas. “It has happened in Geoparks all around the world: along comes somebody with an idea that nobody thought of.”

He points to the Lesvos Global Geopark in Greece, in an area similar to Tumbler Ridge in terms of size and population. “They went from 4000 to 100000 in ten years, creating 52 direct jobs and a host of spin-off jobs.” Helm says

Councillor Mackay asked about twinning with Yang king park. Is there any other benefits?

Helm says other than tourism, it’s just a neat thing to do. “Geoparks are a big thing in China. There’s already a big tourism market coming from China to North America. This is a natural fit. Where does the greatest potential for tourism lie? Europe is an option, certainly, but we look to China and it’s just a natural fit.”

Councillor Kirby says this is such an exciting way to start her four year term.

Mayor McPherson says he’d be honoured to be a part of the committee. “You talk about the Chinese connection. I got a letter of congratulations from the Chinese consulate. I thought all the mayors got one, but Jordan tells me it’s not that common. So this is something we can use.”

Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation

TRMF President Jim Kincaid to request Council’s consideration of the Fee For Service Application request for funding. Kincaid says congratulations to all the new council members. “We look forward to working with you in a productive manner. We’ve had some fantastic get-togethers with Councillor Kirby already.”

He says the museum appreciates the support the museum has had in the past. The Fee for Service funding would be a long-term expression of that. “It gets difficult planning staff when you don’t have stable long term funding.”

The purpose for his being here, says Kincaid, is funding. “We have a deadline from the Regional District to get matching funding; we are hoping to get this wrapped up before the end of January. We’re asking Council, if we can’t get the Fee For Service in place, we at least have funding in place.”

Kincaid says there is a lot happening at the museum right now. “I do want to throw out a couple examples. The first project is about a $500,000 capital project for renovations to the building. These would be include new lighting throughout the building, expanding the lobby to provide more space for local artists to sell their wares, and to make it more usable.” That project, he says would be funded through the Federal Government’s cultural spaces program and Northern Development Initiative (NDI). “Bringing in $500,000 of outside money would be a tremendous boon to this community.” Kincaid says they have previously gotten money from these organizations. “In the past they’ve come to us and said we need to ask for more money.”

Kincaid says the museum had nearly 5000 visitors last year. “That is up 15 percent, and that’s despite the fact that we lost all the school programs in May and September due to the job actions.”

The second big project, he says, would be to expand the display area. “We are very early in the process in looking into that, and ties into the discussion on whether we keep using that facility or work towards a purpose built facility. Any changes to that building would require Council’s approval.

“Likely, with the project that we intend to do this year, we might need to extend the lease, as the government wants to see a ten-year agreement in place, and we are already a couple years into our current agreement,” says Kincaid.

Councillor Howe asks where the museum is with the proposal to be the repository for the provincial government.

Kincaid says the Province has been extremely reluctant to acknowledge that there even needs to be one. “The government has set as a requirement for the companies to do paleontological monitoring, but then doesn’t have a place to put the fossils,” he says,

Councillor Howe asks if Council been doing enough for the museum?

Kincaid says the Museum Foundation is grateful for Council’s support. “What is needed is a more coordinated effort. It’s been very splintered. That isn’t the fault of Council; that’s just the way it’s been.”

Councillor Scott asks if the Trans Canada pipeline is sending fossils to the museum, will they be supporting or funding the museum?

Jim says that it does open up the museum to go ask  companies directly for support, but it is too early in the process to tell.

Mayor McPherson says the long-term funding is critical. “I just wanted to touch on the idea of three years vs. four years. If we put this contract in place for three years, it means when it comes up for discussion next time, a Council with three years of experience under its belt will be looking at the funding. Then in three years, change it to four years, so every time after that the Council that is doing the evaluation has got that experience.”

Councillor Mackay asks if the plan includes 100 percent use of the building.

Kincaid says one of the things the Museum Foundation is worried about with the Trans Canada Pipeline proposal is the space allotment. “Currently we do have some storage for groups like the Arts Council, and we’ve got the new building going up, but that’s to house the stuff that’s too big to fit inside the school. I don’t know how much extra storage space we’ll have.”

Correspondence

CN

Council received correspondence from CN Executive Vice President Sean Finn congratulating Mayor McPherson on his election and to inform Council of a pending meeting with the District to discuss CN’s presence in the community. Mayor McPherson says he wants CN to appear before council to discuss things like the mine closures and the spur line.

Ministry of JTST and Minister Responsible For Labour

Council received correspondence received December 5, 2014 from the Assistant Deputy Minister thanking the District for the work in developing tourism in British Columbia. Councillor Caisley notes that there was a meeting noted on Dec. 14, and is wondering if that took place. Barry says yes, though not a lot of information to share tonight.

Legislative Assembly

NDP Leader John Horgan sent correspondence congratulating Mayor McPherson and Council on the recent election.

People’s Republic of China In Vancouver

Consul General H.E. Liu Fei sent a note congratulating Mayor McPherson on his recent election.

HD Mining

HD Mining International’s Chairman Penngui Yan responded to the District, acknowledging receipt of the District’s letter and agreeing to arrange a meeting in Vancouver. Councillor Caisley points out there is a request for a meeting, and asks when that will be. Mayor McPherson says staff has been planning a trip down to Vancouver to meet with HD, Hydro, the wind companies, etc. Mayor McPherson says he has been discussing with staff that he go down alongside CAO Elliott and EDO Jordan Wall.

Glencore

Glencore Manager Matt White sent a note congratulating Mayor and Council on the recent election. Councillor Howe suggests sending them a letter around their proposed powerline route and encourage them to build a road in from the Bullmoose side so miners in Tumbler Ridge can access the mine easily. Councillor Caisley says there are a number of companies and organizations that Council should be talking to. He wonders if it would be fair to ask staff to set up these appearances before Council over the next few months. Mayor McPherson says that EDO Wall has suggested having a forum, bringing together all the big industrial projects into the same room so they can talk about issues like this. Wall says it is still in the existing planning phase, but he will be bringing forward a request for funding soon.

MLA – Mike Morris

MLA Mike Morris sent correspondence offering congratulations to Mayor McPherson on his recent election.

Spectra Energy

Correspondence received from Spectra Energy President Mark Fiedorek congratulating Mayor and Council on the recent election.

Peace River Regional District

PRRD General Manager of Development Services Bruce Simard sent correspondence providing information regarding how the District of  Tumbler Ridge can participate in Part 26 (Planning) decisions at the Regional District. Mayor McPherson says the cost is around $17,000 to get involved, and it is something that Tumbler Ridge wants to be involved in. “There are a lot of things that happen just outside our boundaries that we should be part of.” Councillor Krakowka agrees. EDO Elliott says he will include this in the budget for deliberation. Councillor Scott asks why the District isn’t a part of this already. Mayor McPherson says the District opted out in the early days, probably because at the time they had two mines and didn’t really have any interest. Councillor Caisley says he hasn’t seen a problem with not being a part. Mayor McPherson says there was once where there was a tie at PRRD, and his vote was discounted, allowing the other side to win. Councillor Mackay asks if this would help in the case of a boundary expansion initiative. CAO Elliott says it couldn’t hurt.

Minister Shirley Bond

Correspondence from the Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour acknowledging appreciation of meeting with the District at the UBCM Convention in Whistler.

New Business

Council Travel – NEBC Coalition Meetings

Council approves costs, not to exceed $8,000, to accommodate Mayor McPherson’s attendance at the North East BC Resource Municipalities Coalition meetings and events that will be scheduled throughout the 2015 calendar year.

Tumbler Ridge Days Society Request

Council moved that the TR Days Society be granted the exclusive use of the Tumbler Ridge Secondary School field for the purpose of holding the Grizfest Music Festival July 31, 2015 – August 2, 2015; AND two beer gardens to be set up on Tumbler Ridge Secondary School Field Grizfest grounds August 1–2, 2015;  AND the use of the portable toilets and maintenance during the festival; AND the use of the stage, shelter, tables and chairs; AND the use of fencing with labour to put it up and take it down; AND to have vendors on District property and covered under the Grizfest business license; AND that direction be given to Public Works and the Campground Operator to work cooperatively together in preparing overflow campground facilities as needed for July 31, 2015 – August 2, 2015; AND that direction be given to the Campground Operator to work with the Grizfest Coordinator in putting procedures in place to reserve campground sites; AND a letter of support of any financial or in-kind support to Grizfest for the purpose of applying for grants; AND District labour and resources in coordination of the event.  Councillor Kirby, Scott and Krakowka recuse themselves, as they sit on the board. Councillor McPherson says it’s been a while since the committee has appeared before Council and requests staff to set up a meeting.

COUNCILLORS’ BUSINESS

Councillor Caisley has nothing to report.

Councillor Kirby had a meeting with the museum foundation.

Councillor Howe has preliminary discussion with ATV club and Snowmobile club. He’s hearing a lot of chatter regarding snow removal.

Councillor Mackay attended Community Forest Meeting. They’re renewing Duncan’s contract. He says John Howe has expressed interest in sitting on board, though this is Council’s decision, so he makes a motion that Howe be inducted. Councillor Howe, Howe’s brother, recuses himself. “I know how I’d vote, though,” he says as he leaves Council chambers. Approved. He would also like to request a meeting with West Moberly band, as there is a good opportunity to work hand in hand with them around the Silvaculture initiative they’ve got, for instance. He also comments on public works. He says whenever Tumbler Ridge get a dump of snow, there are complaints around public works. But he appreciates the work they do; he says the other morning at 7:30, the downtown core was already clear. “The amount of work they do and their dedication is phenomenal.” He attended his last Success by 6 meeting. Commends them for their effort. The boundary expansion, he says, is something that should be looked at seriously.

Councillor Scott also attended the TR Museum meeting. She says she would love to see the province get on board with funding. She has also heard the snow removal concerns. Then she travelled to Grande Prairie. She recently attended breakfast at TR Secondary School.

Councillor Krakowka attended the Success by 6 meeting and is looking forward to working with that board. He also attended breakfast at TR Secondary School. He has touched base with the seniors and library board regarding upcoming meetings, but they have not met yet. He also has heard issues about snow removal. He asks about the sign that goes up before snow removal. Today, he says, there was no sign in the morning on Spruce, but it was there this afternoon. This means that people may not have time to react and clear the streets. Speaking of clearing the streets, he asks about cars parked on the street that haven’t moved for months. Elliott says the process doesn’t allow the District to remove them. Krakowka says this is a concern, and can the bylaw be brought forward to P&P to discuss?

Mayor McPherson attended Mayor’s Coalition agreement, where there was some discussion about Fair Share. Right now, Fair Share extends to 2020. During the last election, it was mentioned that it would be extended to 2030, but nothing was put in place. However, it was also discussed that the government is currently cash strapped, and now is not a good time to have those discussions. He wants to thank Public Works for what they’ve been doing. There is always room for improvement, but improvements cost money, and now is the time to talk about that with budgeting coming up.

Question and Answers

Marcel Brodeur asks about snow removal, as his driveway was blocked today, while most of the other driveways on his street were cleared. He also doesn’t think that it’s acceptable to blow snow and rocks onto people’s lawns. Elliott says the procedures have been developed over time, but there’s no ideal solution. It’s either going to be very costly, or it’s going to be inconvenient to some of the residents. “All I can say is we’re always open to new ideas,” says Elliott. “If we can do it better, we want the opportunity to hear about it.” Councillor Howe says he has already brought forward a few suggestions that he’s heard.

Bev Fournier says her concern is around Grizfest liquor. “I want to make sure there’s no booze going to after-parties on my tax dollar.” Councillor Caisley asks if she has the specifics on this? She says she has heard of it happening in the past. Councillor Caisley says the question leaves the impression that this is happening now, and can she prove it. If this is so, then something needs to be done about it.

Carmen Drapeau has a question about the letter from Shirley Bond. It says “I am pleased to learn that, with the support of Destination BC and their Community Tourism Opportunity Funds, significant marketing activities relating to tourism in Tumbler Ridge, including the Geopark, are now underway.” She is wondering what that means, Elliott says a lot of these are flowing from the discussion with Minister Bond. What they are trying to do is say they’re following up. This is just their attempt to keep us in the loop about changes that have been happening that might affect us.

Brodeur says he likes what he is seeing in regards to how the logging is happening over by the RV park. They just need to get rid of the tinder sized branches. Councillor Howe asks if that’s part of the Community Forest, or is that hazardous tree removal? Councillor Mackay says that’s Two Horse Logging, not part of the Community Forest. He asks another question regarding the bylaw officer and if they go out and patrol, or do they just respond to complaints. Elliott says that on garbage day she’s out there, and on snow removal day she’s out there trying to deal with the cars that are abandoned.