Regular Meeting of Council: June 17

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

Present Mayor Wren, Councillors Leggett, Litster, and Mackay

PETITIONS AND DELEGATIONS

DALE HULL – RECYCLING

Dale Hull came before Council to discuss what is happening at the dump, as well as with a petition. See story on page 1.

Marcel Brodeur, Visitor Information Centre Petition

Concerned citizen Marcel Brodeur appeared before Council to discuss the Visitor Information Centre. He says that the ground has been cleared, but he hasn’t seen any surveying. He asks the Mayor if it is true that the mayor said a Visitor Information Centre will bring tourists to Tumbler Ridge.

Mayor Wren says the town wants tourists to come back. He says the town needs a building that will host the Chamber of Commerce and the arts Council as well as possibly the economic development office. And there are a lot of reasons why Tumbler Ridge needs to invest in tourism infrastructure. There is the geopark application, which he says is looking very promising. There is also an initiative to make the Alaska Highway a historic site. If we were the second geopark in North America, he says, a lot of the quarter of a million people who travel the Alaska Highway will come to Tumbler Ridge. He says this is something that has been in the works for ten years.

“It just seems that with the downturn in the economy, it’s wrong,” says Brodeur. He suggests that those funds be put into helping the museum with the dinosaur dig or something like that.

Mayor Wren says the Visitor Information Centre is solely a municipal function. Extracting the bones is a provincial initiative. He says that Minister Thomson will be here on Thursday, but that’s something the PRPRC needs to look into.

Brodeur says that there are people are out of work.

Mayor Wren says he just spoke to someone who got a job working on the crew building the VIC.

Brodeur says he doesn’t understand how the District can be spending this money when there are people in such bad shape. “I spoke to someone who sold his house for $70,000 less than the asking price,” says Brodeur. “He took it on the chin to get out of here.”

Mayor Wren says that the District has been working on a sustainability plan with UNBC to try and diversify the economy.

Brodeur says that a Visitor Centre has nothing to do with advertising or promoting the community. The people who put the work into tourism here, the Wolverine Nordic Mountain Society, the Peace River Paleontological Society…

Mayor Wren interrupts him. Both these groups, says Wren, are behind the building 100 percent, so don’t presume to speak for them.

Brodeur says the Mayor has said that a portion of the building, possibly a large portion of it, will probably be covered by grants. “If you don’t get the grant, will you pay for it out of your pocket?” he asks.

Mayor Wren says he’s being ridiculous.

Brodeur brings up the community forest and the money from that, asking what it’s being used for.

Mayor Wren says he doesn’t see the connection.

“It’s all about the money,” says Brodeur. “Where has the money gone?”

Councillor Mackay says he knows it is a break from formality, but Duncan McKellar is at the meeting and can answer that question directly.

McKellar says if Brodeur is asking about the land that was harvested between Monkman and Mackenzie, that wasn’t a part of the community forest, but town land. It was under wildfire mitigation to remove fire hazard. If they had gone that way, they would have got a $420,000 grant and the District would have had to put in $80,000. Instead, the Community Forest board approached the town and said ‘let’s take it out of that and make some money.’ We harvested it and made $80,000. Then they chipped a bunch of the wood, which left us with $60,000. So instead of taking money from our pocket, from the taxpayers’ pockets, we made money on it, and that money is in the bank. It will be decided where the money will go.”

Marcel says that chipping the wood is a fire hazard. Mayor Wren says that Fire Chief Matt Treit is at the meeting too, and asks him explain why the wood is being chipped. Chipping, says Treit, is much less dangerous than leaving it as branches. They actually had the first fire in that area on Sunday which was easier to put out, he says.

“We targeted the material under seven centimeters, adds McKellar. This will decrease the chance of forest fires.”

Mayor Wren says that is a good outcome for the community. The community made money and a high level of expertise was involved in making the decisions along the way.

Councillor Mackay says that Brodeur had asked him about a loader that had gone into that area and had taken and collected firewood and brought it back to behind the public works yard, and that Brodeur was concerned about the sale of firewood being taken out of the area. “There is no one permitted to go back there to get firewood for the purpose of selling it, unless it is a non-profit that has been authorized by the District to do so,” says Mackay. “If anyone thinks they can make money and put it towards a good cause, we’re all ears,” he says.

“The loader being in there? He was collecting firewood. You’re right,” says Mackay. “That’s cut up for seniors in this community. They can drive back there, and I’ll bet you nine times out of ten, they’ll help the seniors load the back of the pick-up for them. All these accusations that are going around…do a bit of homework, first.”

“There’s one thing I do want to clarify,” says Mackay. “You put it in a public forum that a lot of the lumber that was cut down, you suggested it might not be done over the scale. Do you still stand by that? That’s a pretty courageous accusation.”

“I don’t know, as I never got the reports,” says Brodeur. “I don’t recall what you’re talking about.”

Mackay says that Brodeur posted that on Facebook, and he printed it off. “When people make accusations in a public forum like that, it is a wrong committed against the people who are doing the work,” Mackay says.

Mayor Wren tells Brodeur that the finances are available for review. “It’s all public and it’s a public board.”

Mackay says he wants to go back to the building. “Visitor Information Centre is probably not the best name for the building,” he says. “We have a newly resurrected Chamber of Commerce. The benefit of a fully functional Chamber is immense for everything that takes place in Tumbler Ridge. When things get rough at the mine, the last thing we want to be doing is turtling, and that’s what it seems you are prescribing for the town. I am dead against that, and I think this Council is, too.”

Mayor Wren says that he is not going to get into a debate with Brodeur, as the contracts have been long signed and the building is going to be built. That’s the fact. “That’s the vision not only of this Council, but of the last three Councils and Mayors. When we talk about the economy and opportunity, we have included people like the folks at UNBC, people with PHDs who have looked at resource communities, and we’ve gotten recommendations from them, and we are following that expertise.

“The other thing we’ve seen is the Enbridge pipeline getting approval. If you look at the population within Northern BC, Northwest Alberta, which is 200,000 or 250,000 people right now. That’s projected to be 500,000. If you’re living in Calgary, you have Banff. If you live in Edmonton, you have Jasper. If you’re living within 200 km of here, where’s the mountain resort for tourism? Where do you go? We want to be that destination, and we will be, and this decision will put us in that direction.”

“Why are you opposed to an open forum?” asks Brodeur. “Let everyone have a say in our community.”

“We can’t vote on every single item that someone doesn’t like,” says Wren.

“Why can’t we vote on this $1.5-million structure?” asks Brodeur. “If you were proud of this, why wouldn’t you have big signs saying ‘$1.5-million spent on this structure?”

“We’ve had this in the budget for several years,” says Mayor Wren. “The budget meetings are open, and I did not see you at a single one of them. That was the time to do it.”

“I just woke up,” says Brodeur.

“I’m glad you did,” responds Wren. “But the contract is signed, and the building is being built. The Council has a vision for the community, and I think the community supports it.”

“The people I’ve talked to don’t support it,” says Brodeur. “If you won’t have a referendum on this…”

“There won’t be a referendum on this,” says Wren.

Graham Johnson

“I was in a much better mood when I came in here,” says Johnson, appearing after the discussion of the Visitor Information Centre. “I moved here a few months ago and brought my family, spent my own money, and then I found out the mines are shutting down. People want to cancel this and cancel that. Then I went to an event with Paul and the Fivestar Fight League, and I think what a great community and what a fabulous place, and I want to fight for this community. And then this…

“The reason I came here originally was to talk about Sam Roberts show. One of the reasons you wanted me to come here and take over the golf course was because of my background in events management. When the mines shut down I was left to make the decision: do I turtle? Or do I say ‘no, this is important for the community?’”

Johnson says he decided not to turtle, and he is putting his support behind the community, in the hopes that the community will put its support behind him. “It takes a community to put on an event,” he says. “I am here not for money, but for your education. I want your attention and your support. Normally what would happen is I might need crowd barricades, I would have to rent that out of Dawson Creek. But maybe you have some that I could use at a reduced price, or give it to me at cost. I was on the radio today, and I was telling them this is the playground of the Peace. You drive 45 minutes south of Dawson Creek, and you’re in one of the most pristine, beautiful parts of the planet.”

Johnson encourages Council (and everyone) to ask him about the event and what he is doing out at the golf course. “It would just be nice to have you guys being aware of the challenges that I face.”

He then returns to the topic of the previous presentation. “When I found out about the Visitor Information Centre,” he says, “I was thrilled. It’s exactly what this community needs. I think it’s one of the most important things you can do. Tumbler ridge is an anomaly; you can’t put it in the same category as Dawson Creek or Fort St. John. Tumbler Ridge is special. When people come here, how are they going to find out about the golf course? I’m working seven days a week, and how would people know? I’m talking to the Chamber of Commerce people who are looking after the VIC and they’re saying ‘we’re sending people down to you.’ Thank goodness someone is. I couldn’t give you enough support for that.”

Mayor Wren says that the District can help participate in marketing events like Sam Roberts. “Tourism is about getting people into our community; about keeping them in our community. Special events are a chance to showcase our community.”

Mayor Wren says he has been glad to see events like Sam Roberts or the recent Fivestar Fight League Rumbler on the Ridge event. “Fivestar is doing things to build this community up, not tear it down,” he says. He says that the Council can get involved in promoting events like Sam Roberts and the Fivestar Fights.

Johnson says Shawn Majumder was just here, and he loves Tumbler Ridge. “He has 50,000 people on his Facebook and Twitter,” says Johnson, “and he raves about this town. And he’s sincerely.”

Councillor Mackay asks what Johnson needs. He replies that infrastructure is needed. Crowd control, a stage…those sorts of things. But more than that, he just wants people in this town to work together. “I’d like to have a dialogue with people,” he says. He mentions that the Grizfest committee has passed a motion that whatever help he needs that they are able to give. “I want to cooperate with the people at Grizfest, and they want to cooperate with me, and I hope that you guys feel the same. I want to be able to say ‘here’s what my challenges are,’ without it being controversial, or a burden to the community. But if you have something that’s sitting in storage, and I have to go get it from somewhere else…that’s what I would like you to know. And if there’s anything you can do to market these events. I’m marketing Tumbler Ridge. On the radio today I didn’t say come to the golf course, I said come to Tumbler Ridge. Hopefully they’ll come to the Golf Course, too, but first, let’s get them here.

CORRESPONDENCE

UBCM 2014 BREAKFAST INVITATIONS – SEPTEMBER 2014

Council received correspondence  from Dan Jepsen, RPF, Chair Breakfast Series, extending an invitation for two members of Council to attend the Energy and Mines Breakfast being held September 23, 2014 and the Natural Gas Sector Breakfast being held September 24, 2014. Councillor Mackay says there is an opportunity to meet with minister Bill Bennett, and we should have someone there. Councillor Litster says she would be available.

NEW BUSINESS

INSTALLATION AND USE OF FIRE PITS AT THE TUMBLER RIDGE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB

Council moved to allow the use of fire pits at the RV sites at the Tumbler Ridge Golf and Country Club on a trial basis providing that all provisions of the Fire Services bylaw and other relevant bylaws are adhered to, and with the understanding that the staff of the Tumbler Ridge Golf and Country Club have the ultimate responsibility for care and maintenance of the fire pits. Fire Chief Treit says that as long as the bylaws are followed there’s not a problem. Councillor Lister suggests a copy of the bylaws be passed on to the campers when they show up. Mayor Wren asks if the District has fire rings that they could provide, but Fire Chief Treit says the golf course would be providing those.

PROPOSED MEIKLE WIND ENERGY PROJECT

Council made a motion to encourage the constructing company, Meikle Wind Energy Limited Partnership, to source the labour, expertise, and materials for the project as much as possible from the District of Tumbler Ridge.

Canada Day Celebration Request

Council approved street closures for the event, and the use of tables, chairs, barricades, etc. as well as to have vendors able to set up on district property. Direction was given to maintenance staff to work cooperatively to preparing the event. Councillor Mackay says he’s heard nothing but rave reviews about the block party and this is a great idea.

COUNCILLORS’ BUSINESS

Councillor Leggett attended block party. Thanks to all. Kids loved it. Also had opportunity to attend two of the geopark meetings

Councillor Litster also attended block party and the geopark event at museum. I think we are poised to do something great.

Councillor Mackay participated in several conference calls with staff and people from ministry of skills training. We have eight participants at the upcoming job fair. Attended a few workshops at FCM. Attended a few sessions around groundwater, around community forest. Picked up info re. He says congratulations to organizers of block party. Took a tour of the work that’s been done over by the Roman Walkway, and says it looks really good. He says the walkway over by Monkman well under way, and the installation of generator by the Water Treatment Plant is also underway. He says he went up to the Taylor powwow to check it out, as they had requested money this year. “It blew my mind away,” he says. “It was phenomenal. At one spot there were a hundred dancers. It was one of the most colourful things I’ve seen, and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was a heck of a time.” He thanks Councillor Leggett for his extracurricular work, putting in some mountain bike trails.

“I’ve been here for two terms,” he says. “Last term I thought we were busy, but this particular term, all hell has broken loose. I just wanted to make note that while Council has been busy, the Mayor has been run ragged, and I wanted to commend him for all the work he has done. And staff, too.”

Mayor Wren attended a family needs committee meeting last that brought forward the Canada day plans voted on earlier in the evening. “We also talked about future of Tumbler Ridge and our vision for the future.” The committee is going to be working on some surveys as to what people want for family, so they can figure out what sort of needs there are.

The new playground is underway by Claude Galibois, and it should be opening in the next few weeks. We are going to have a celebration around that.

He had a meeting with museum foundation. They unanimously voted to support the Visitor Information Centre. He attended events around Geopark delegation. “The committee did an enormous amount of work,” says Wren. “It can’t be understated the impact this could have.”

He attended the thirty years community celebration. Thanks to the organization committee. It was a fabulous event.  Had people from around the prrd to help us celebrate. The amount of support, spirit and optimism is our greatest strength. It’s all the people who have been here for the last two decades that have gotten us to this point.

I’ve been busy with staff setting meeting with minister toms on looking at fossil and looking at road to Kinuseo falls. Thanks to MLA mike vernier for the work he’s down around that.

Participated in CDI workshop.

Had a meeting with Blair Lekstrom re housing project. Attended fivestar fight event. Thanks to organizers. Brought in people from all around the region. That’s what this is all about. Get people here and show them what we have so they come back.

Want to thank councillor Leggett for building first mountain bike trail here.

Had meetings with steelworkers and operating engineers. They want to see workers stay in our community.

Investigating building an outdoor hockey rink.

Questions

Not a question, but a comment from someone who says they were originally from Nanaimo. When Nanaimo brought in bins, within five years there were dumping fees and weigh scales. Mayor wren says as long as he is Council he would never be in favour of that. Hopefully what will happen out of this will be better.

Also a comment, this one from Marcel Brodeur. He says earlier, they were talking about recycling metals. The town is not separating metals. The way we are set up is throw it into a bin and get a low flat rate. He says if we did that here we would create jobs and make more money. He proposes a blue box program. Or, he proposes that we don like the do on Cortez Island, where they have what they call a Free Store, where people put in what they don’t want and take out what they don’t need. Fire Services bylaw and other relevant bylaws are adhered to, and with the understanding that the staff of the Tumbler Ridge Golf and Country Club have the ultimate responsibility for care and maintenance of the fire pits. Fire Chief Treit says that as long as the bylaws are followed there’s not a problem. Councillor Lister suggests a copy of the bylaws be passed on to the campers when they show up. Mayor Wren asks if the District has fire rings that they could provide, but Fire Chief Treit says the golf course would be providing those.