Regular Meeting of Council: July 15

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

Present: Mayor Wren, Councillors Mackay, Caisley, Snyder and Litster (by speaker phone)

PETITIONS AND DELEGATIONS

UNITED WAY PROCLAMATION

Emily Harris, Community Development and Campaign Coordinator for United Way, South Peace requesting that Council proclaim September 2014 as the United Way of Northeastern British Columbia month. She didn’t show up, but council makes the proclamation anyway.

TUMBLER RIDGE COMMUNITY FOREST – UPDATE

Duncan McKellar, TR Community Forest Operations Manager appeared before council to provide an update the TR Community Forest Operations. He says that the community forest is actively harvesting a few areas around town. They are targeting pine beetle stands. One of the areas they want to target is around Moose Lake, off of a west Fraser area, and it’s about 3 km from nearest road. In fall, West Fraser is helping to build some roads.

Last year they harvested about 35,000 cubic metres. So far this year they’ve harvested over 35,000 cubic metres on the way to just over 100,000 cubic metres.

The big reason in appearing before council, though, says McKellar, is they are looking for support the management intent of wildfire prescription area in community forest.

They are going to be harvesting down by golf course. Unlike area by Mesa place, says McKellar, this area is in community forest. It has some visual screening, and the plan to use similar equipment as pond block. . The golf course area is rated as high hazard area. They will leave aspen and young spruce, though there is not much of that in parts of the stand. They are hoping to leave it as wide spacing, but there is not a lot of diversity as was in the pond area. “It’s mostly just pine,” says McKellar, “which doesn’t lend itself to select harvesting.”

McKellar says that Blow downs are starting to happen as stand degrades. The plan is to come in from back and leave aspen up front near the road, though he realizes it will not be as pretty in winter, but will provide some screening. The logging won’t affecting the trail to TR Point.

It was suggested that they harvest around the golf course, but there are too few dead trees in to big of a space, and it wouldn’t be financially feasible. But they are planning on harvesting the 400 dead trees within falling distance of the ski trails.

McKellar says the next step is to advertise to public about the plan to get input, which they will incorporate into the final plan.

Council Snyder voices his support for the plan. Councillor Mackay says that, when you look at the fires that are happening here, in Alberta, in the north, that something needs to be done. Yes, he says, it will be noticeable. It will make a difference on the landscape. He says that at the last meeting of the community forest board, there was some discussion about  reintroducing a more fireproof tree. Is this something where we can put in there?

McKellar says probably not, as they are bound by very specific rules. He  will be talking to people and looking for options, but because it is crown forest land: “they won’t let us plant, say, maples.” He suggests that if it were taken out of community forest and managed as town land, it might be possible. He says that there are stands of larch and tamarack nearby, and they are possible options. He says he will inquire about that.

Councillor Caisley asks what will be harvested, as it looks like it won’t just be dead pine. Duncan says that much of the surviving pine has 10 percent crown closure, which means it will probably be dead in a decade. Yes, the area will be more denuded, because there is not as much diversity. It is a fairly thin strip, but it will look a little more open.

Councillor Caisley asks will harvesting influence trails? McKellar says he is not aware of any trails in this stand. There is a trail right behind it, about 100 m away.”

Mayor Wren says that right now, you can’t see the hills for the smoke. “There is a danger for fire, and it is a problem area, but it is also an area of high visibility.” He suggests an open house to discuss with public. “The messaging will be critical,” says Wren. “And the public needs some education around what this might look like.”

He also asks what recreational possibilities there might be. He suggests there might be  some value in having more campsites near or even inside the town, and it might be worth doing some conceptual work of what this might look like.” He is also worried about an increased ability for snowmobiles and ATVs to access that golf course, as that can damage the course and the trails. Duncan says this won’t change that, as people who want to get there can get there already, but will look at leaving  trees in place to block access.

UNITED STEELWORKERS UNION: STOP THE KILLING – ENFORCE THE LAW CAMPAIGN

Sean Ball, Staff Representative, District 3, USW, is seeking Council resolution in support of the “Stop the Killing – Enforce the Law” campaign. This campaign is designed to demand the government enforce the Westray law. Ball says he  was not an activist, and not political back in 1992, but when 26 miners died in the mine in Nova Scotia, it shook him. The accident was caused by methane and coal dust and only 15 bodies we’re ever recovered, and it was at least partially the fault of the owners, but they never were prosecuted.

Every year 1000 Canadians are killed on the job, he says. This is one of the worst records in the developed world. “It’s sad,” he says. “It’s wrong. And it is preventable.”

He points to the Westray Law, named after the mining disaster. “After this disaster, the USW fought to get amendments to criminal code. It’s called Bill c345. It was a unanimous vote,” says Bell. He remembers in 2004 after the law was passed, his foreman was visibly scared that he might place people in harm’s way. But these days the law is not being enforced, and there is no fear.

Because of this the USW has launched the Stop the Killing Campaign. It started last year, and is designed to give justice to the families of people killed in these accidents, where right now all they have is pain. Ball says the USW understands that most accidents are simply that: accidents. But in the last nine years, not a single employer has gone to prison for their action or inaction that has put employees deliberately in harm’s way.

He says Toronto, Hamilton, the Lower Mainland, Flin Flon, Dawson creek and Fort St. John have all passed resolutions to encourage the Canadian Government that the Westray amendments are enforced. He encourages council to pass a resolution.

Councillor Litster says the  USW should be encouraging employees to know the right to refusal. Ball says that there is money spent on education not just for educating employees but employers. He says the trouble is there is a law, and people are dying because it isn’t being enforced.”

Councillor Mackay says he was here when people from Westray came to do a presentation in town. He says it was incredibly powerful. He says things are changing, but need to change more.

Councillor Snyder. Asks would it not be a much stronger position if other unions were involved?

Ball says he doesn’t know why the other unions haven’t got on board.

Councillor Snyder says it is the responsibility of the employer to create a safe environment, but it is the responsibility of the employee for their own health and safety.

Ball says it’s hard to take responsibility when you’re dead. He says employees don’t always know when they are being placed in harm’s way, or they don’t know better. He says young people sometimes believe the employer has their best interest in mind, and don’t know any better. Don’t know that this could be fatal.

Councillor Mackay says he will gladly make a motion, but not exactly the one raised, and will bring it forward next meeting.

Mayor Wren says he is not going to be critical based on what other unions do. What the USW is doing needs to be recognized. “Safety has become more important, but the work needs to be done,” says Wren. “In the next few years there is going to be tremendous amount of activity in this area, and if this will help protect our brothers, sons, mothers, fathers, then I am for it.”

Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark Update

Dr. Charles Helm to update Council as follows  on the TRAG proposal and the Global Geopark Network evaluation mission and to present a dinosaur footprint replica to the District.

Helm says it has only been 21 months since the word “geopark” was first mentioned in Tumbler Ridge. “We’ve set the world record in getting from where we were to where we are,” says Helm.

He says it was a successful delegation. “It went well, and we learned a lot,” says Helm. “We learned that you can’t just be good, you have to be excellent. We had a lot of tasks that have been given to us, collecting more information, and that information is being presenting today to the Global Geopark Network.”

Whatever happens, says Helm, the Geopark Committee can take credit for putting fossil legislation back on map. A decision will be made in Sept 18-23 is the global geopark conference in Stonehammer. Six representatives from Tumbler Ridge will be there.

He says there are four categories that the proposal could fall into. The first is an unconditional designation. The second is a conditional acceptance, where Tumbler Ridge is given a designation, but also given a list of things to work on.

The third option, says Helm, is to be told “we like what you are doing but come back in a year.”

The fourth option, he says is a complete rejection. “It would be really nice to get accepted this year,” says Helm. “The delegates were very impressed with the programs, captivated by the scenery, loved the trails, but the one big comment was there needs to be more interpretive information than just pamphlets.  They want to see more things on the ground that show this is a geopark.”

Helm says the committee is already working on these issues. He points to the TR Trail project, which has become a geopark project as well. “The brochure interprets geology, plus there are panels interpreting these areas as well,” he says “We have upgraded the Stone Corral trail and Murray Canyon Overlook.” Helm says they are  upgrading one trail at a time to include interpretive signage.

He says that work on the master plan and marketing plan has begun. Because of the proposal, he says that the town has developed closer relationships with BC Parks, and closer relationships with First Nations.

He says that there is a new archaeological site that has been discovered within the region that is very exciting. He says there’s also a major dinosaur announcement coming out next week, and they are working on repatriating some of the discoveries from the area.

The biggest problem, says Helm, is that, while we have a lot of people who are helping, there is an equally active vandal community. “We need to work out ways to deal with this.”

Helm says he feels that things are reaching a critical mass. “It’s like a snowball that can’t be stopped. We are stronger as we work together.”

At the end of his presentation Charissa Tonnesen presents a replica footprint to town hall.

Councillor Mackay says that everyone should be concerned about the garbage left behind. He suggests maybe there needs to be more info on no trace hiking. He says it is demoralizing to anyone who puts work in and then it gets damaged.

Helm says he is always amazed at how it is no problem to carry a six pack of beer in, but it’s too much work to carry the empties out.

The entire council voices their support for what the Geopark committee is doing.

CORRESPONDENCE

UNIFORM BUILDING CODE AND COMMUNITY CHARTER CHANGES

Council received correspondence received from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), advising that the Province of BC has informed UBCM that it intends to implement a uniform building code and amend the Community Charter to eliminate local government concurrent authority.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA PRODUCTION ISSUES – BC

Council received correspondence from the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Minister of Agriculture regarding medical marijuana production issues in BC.

MEIKLE WIND ENERGY PROJECT – ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT CERTIFICATE

Council received notification from Teresa Morris, Project Assessment Manager, Environment Assessment Office advising that an Environmental Assessment Certificate has been issued.

2014 BC OIL & GAS CONFERENCE – FORT NELSON, BC

Council received Sponsorship and Registration information for the 2014 BC Oil & Gas Conference being held September 30th – October 1st, 2014 in Fort Nelson; Conference is being hosted by The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.

MERRICK MAINLINE PIPELINE PROJECT – OPEN HOUSE

Correspondence received from TransCanada regarding the Merrick Mainline Pipeline Project. Open Houses are being held in July 2014.

NEW BUSINESS

ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER – APPOINTMENT

Council appointed Liana Madden as the Animal Control Officer for the District of Tumbler Ridge.

ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER CONTRACT

Council authorized the animal Control Officer Contract between the District of Tumbler Ridge and Ms. Liana Madden; and gave the Mayor and Corporate Officer sign the contract with Liana Madden to provide the services currently being provided under the current Animal Control Contract for the term beginning October 1, 2013 – December 31, 2016.

COMMUNITY WORKS FUND 2014 – 2024 AGREEMENT

Council authorizes the District of Tumbler Ridge to enter into the Community Works Fund Agreement 2014 – 2024.

POLICIES AND PRIORITIES COMMITTEE RESOLUTIONS

Council has made a number of resolutions at the Policies and Priority Committee meetings, which is not technically allowed. A group of resolutions are passed, including:

Council supporting the participation / membership of the District of Tumbler Ridge in the Mayors’ Natural Gas Partnership.

Council directing Staff to prepare a letter to PNG(NE) to express concern regarding the proposed 2014 residential rate increase for Tumbler Ridge and to request that PNG(NE) appear at a Council meeting to provide an explanation for the proposed increase. Area manager is in town tomorrow and is meeting with mayor Wren.

Council approving the donation of a District of Tumbler Ridge jacket as a prize to the Father’s Day Fishing Derby being held Sunday, June 15, 2014.

AND

Council allocating $2,000 from the 2014 Council Initiative budget to begin building a mountain bike trail.

APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF ELECTION OFFICIALS

Council appoint Barry Elliott as the Chief Election Officer for the upcoming general municipal election and Jeanette McDougall as the Deputy Chief Election Officer for the upcoming general municipal election.

COUNCILLORS’ BUSINESS

Councillor Snyder, Councillor Caisley, and Councillor Litster have nothing of substance to report.

Councillor Mackay attended Community Futures meeting and a Community Forest Board meeting. He says the Community Forest will be holding an AGM in October. He and Mayor Wren went down to Vancouver to attend a variety of meetings with groups, including Boralex regarding the proposed wind farm, Pattern Energy regarding Meikle Wind Project, Scotia Bank regarding banking in Tumbler Ridge, and HD Mining regarding housing.

He is wondering about getting addresses and contact info for numbered companies to see if they can get more involved in community.

Mayor Wren says he hasn’t had a chance to talk about Canada day. It was very successful. Well attended. He says it was a good move by the Family Needs Committee to suggest bringing it downtown. He extends thanks to ray Proulx for organizing the entertainment. He says there’s been a family needs survey circulating, which has gotten over fifty responses. Also, the playground at museum is completed. They are planning a grand opening  on July 27. He also discusses the meetings in Vancouver. He says he is pleased to have planted the first of 250,000 trees for the Community Forest.