Trent Ernst, Editor
Present: Mayor McPherson, Councillors Howe, Krakowka, Kirby, Scott, Mackay
PETITIONS AND DELEGATIONS
TR GLOBAL GEOPARK – UPDATE
Dr. Charles Helm came before Council to introduce the new President of the TR Global Geopark, as well as some other issues. “From the time we first heard the word Geopark until now, we’ve appeared before council I think ten times in the last two and a half years,” he says. “We held our first AGM and elected our first board. I’m honoured to present Sue Kenny as president of the Tumbler Ridge Geopark Committee.”
Kenny says she wasn’t expecting to be president of the Geopark six months ago, but has been involved for the last year. “I’ve always been passionate about Tumbler Ridge,” she says. “Not a lot of communities have the sense of volunteerism that Tumbler Ridge does.”
Going through the master plan, she says, they tried to be very honest about how they present the Geopark. An incredible amount of work has been done even since the designation. There’s only one sign left to put up. “That’s one thing that we were told that we were lacking during the inspection,” she says. “Now all the signs are up.”
She says the committee and the town has a lot to look forward to in the future. The next big event will be the inauguration. They are currently working with EDO Jordan Wall on the details. “Thanks to the District of Tumbler Ridge for helping us,” she says. “And I am so thankful that we can work together on this.”
Kenny says it will take a couple months for her to learn everything that’s happening on the ground. “Going forward, we’re looking at different revenue sources, and applying for grants for coordinator,” she says. “There’s going to be a lot of ground work over summer. We can’t market it as a complete destination this summer, but we’ll work, and we’ll learn and we’ll keep plugging away, and by next summer, we should have a pretty good grasp of things.”
She passes the presentation back to Charles, who discusses a boundary change to do with Monkman Provincial Park. He has talked to MLA Mike Bernier, who has asks that it come from the Geopark and the District. It would be a small change in the boundary on the east side. “Back in the 1980s, they didn’t really understand the area, and there was no logic that went into the park boundaries,” Says Charles. “This area is already an old growth management area. Industry can’t go in there, but it’s not within the park. We are proposing the eastern boundary of Monkman Provincial Park be the Murray River. That makes much more sense than a straight line. There’s no industrial interest there.”
Why are we interested, asks Helm? He says there is a waterfall upstream on the Murray River. If the provincial park boundary were changed, we could build a trail there, a campsite. “This wouldn’t be the first time. We went exploring and found the Stone Corral, and through our discovery, they expanded the park boundary. It was a win-win situation.”
Helm says its an 18 km hike one way to the first of the Cascades, and even longer to see the rest. “That’s a long hike and people get deterred from doing it. Slate falls would be 10 km one way. It’s a wonderful site and it enhances our role as waterfall capital of the north.”
Helm says BC Parks is unable to do this on their own initiative; they needs local volunteer groups to spearhead these things.
Helm says the Geopark is cleaning up area on Albright Ridge. “That is a terrible mess, he says. Industrial exploration has left batteries, oil drums…he says they discovered a cave recently, and it was filled with Styrofoam.
One of the other initiatives we’re working on, says Helm, is the walking tour. Birgit Sharman has been doing a huge amount of work. The Geopark is working on signs pointing the way to mountains that you can see from downtown.
Finally, says Helm, recently there was a remarkable donation to the museum. We very much appreciate it. We have to research it before we do the press release to the public, but it’s of relevance to Northern BC. And last week Kevin Sharman made a discovery that will probably be bigger than the Williston Trackway, but it will be a few months before we can make that announcement.
Councillor Kirby congratulates Kenney on her position. She says the walking tour partnership is a great idea.
Councillor Scott asks if there’s any way to get industry to help with cleanup. It’s been tried in the past without success, says Helm.
Councillor Howe asks if they’ve thought about putting a link on the signs, so kids can get more information. Helm says they’ve looked at it, and it is something that can be added later. The signage has gone up already. “What you’re talking about is something called QR codes, which is easy to add,” he says. “However, there is the issue around cell phone coverage.”
Howe asks about ideas around business ideas for locals.
Sue says there was a lot of input during the community workshop. “When I saw what was going on at that meeting, I saw ideas for what Community Futures could do,” she says. “We already have three operator agreements already. These people can use our logos. We’ve got a wilderness waterfalls concept, where there are ten wilderness waterfalls that don’t have trails. We give them the start and the destination, and they can find it themselves. But many won’t be comfortable with that, so it creates the opportunities for guides. A lot of this will come from identified needs, as time goes on.”
PROPOSED BYLAW RE: LAYING HENS
Monika Brown came before Council to ask for a bylaw proposal regarding laying hens. Councillor Krakowka and the Mayor recuse themselves.
Monica has been a resident of TR for a decade, but comes from an agricultural background. She says that a lot of the communities around here are doing it. Needs proper guidelines and standards, but it can be done. “I propose that Tumbler Ridge allow this to happen.”
CAO Barry Elliott says he would need to do more research around this. It is prohibited in the animal bylaw, and chicken coops aren’t covered under building bylaw. Anytime you amend a bylaw, he says, there is a public process, so it is a bit more complex than it might first appear, but it can be done.
Councillor Kirby said she actually had a chance to tour a coup this week, and she doesn’t see a problem with it. She would be for this.
Councillor Mackay says he’s surprised at all the communities, even cities that are doing this: Victoria, Quebec City. He says this has come before Council before but never gained a whole lot of traction. He’s interested to see what comes of it.
Councillor Howe says his concern is with bears and cougars. “My concern comes in how do monitor and keep them safe? It adds a lot for the people who enforce the bylaws around town.” He says he had a marten in has backyard three days ago.
JUNIOR CANADIAN RANGERS – SEA CAN STORAGE
Angela Robertson came before Council to request that a form be signed by a Council representative which is required by the Department of National Defense to allow Sea Can storage. Robertson says thanks to all the Junior Rangers who came tonight to show their support. She thanks Council for the use of Willow Hall. She says right now there is a problem with storing, and they have had discussions with Council in the past. This appearance is to formalize the request for support. We need a representative to sign the form required by Department of National Defense to allow sea can for storage of Junior Ranger supplies.
Elliott says one of his concerns is to make sure it fits within the parameters of the zoning bylaw. Operations Manager Doug Beale says there is an area that he’s been looking at that would accommodate this that would be close to lighting for security purpose.
Councillor Krakowka asks if there’s any issue around people going in or out to get stuff. Beale says there are some issues. Moving equipment is one. There would have to be some schedule that would have to be made. Keeping it close to the building would alleviate that.
Councillor Krakowka asks if there is a time crunch. Robertson says no, but there is a lot of red tape that has to be cleared.
Councillor Mackay asks if the Junior Rangers would carry their own insurance. Robertson says yes.
Councillor Scott wonders if they can pass a motion of support tonight.
Elliott says yes, but there are these other issues, though it will probably take longer at the other end as it will at this end.
Councillor Howe wonders if the Junior Rangers can put it in another location, a business or otherwise?
Councillor Scott says there’s already a Sea-can over there for the Rangers, so there can’t be that big a problem with it.
Mayor McPherson says he agrees in principle, but says other groups might want similar things, so he’d like this to go through staff. “Maybe we can set up an area for this?” he suggests. Council puts this back to staff to do the research, but passes motion to write letter of support.
TUMBLER RIDGE SPORTSMAN ASSOCIATION
Councillors Howe and Mackay recuse themselves because they are members of the organization.
Merle Donovan came before Council on behalf of the TR Sportsman Association (TRSA) to request a one-time grant in aid in the amount of $16,000 from the District for the purposes of improving the shooting range to bring it in compliance with RCMP standards. The TRSA has been a club since 1988, and was formed by citizens of Tumbler Ridge to provide recreational shooting sport opportunities for locals. In the early years the club had a large membership, but this dropped off in the early 2000s, as people left town after the mines closed.
The range has been officially inspected twice. In 2000, the club made some changes to the range to bring it up to spec. In 2015, there was a second inspection. At the time, the requirement was made was to increase the height of the backstop on the big bore range from four metres to six metres, as well as eliminating the steel target holders.
In order to continue as an RCMP approved range, these changes must happen. “If we don’t make those changes,” says Donovan, “we will most likely lose that facility.”
The club, says Donovan, has $10,000 in the bank, but the changes to the range backdrop would cost $12,400.
In addition to this work, the club would like to purchase a Sea-can as a clubhouse and storage area, as the previous building out there was condemned and destroyed last year, as well as make some other improvements to the handgun portion of the range.
“As you can see,” says Donovan, “There will be a cash shortfall that will prevent the TRSA from completing the mandatory range work.” So the club is seeking a one-time grand of $16,000 from the District to meet the requirements laid out by the RCMP.”
Donovan says the RCMP use this range, and would have to travel to Fort St. John or Dawson Creek to perform annual shooting qualifications. It is also used by the Rangers and the Junior Rangers.
As well, range improvements could lead to shooting competitions, which would bring people to town.
Sergeant Learning says the RCMP does appreciate having this here. “We value having this range here. It saves us significant dollars in travel cost.” He also says that he wouldn’t put his guys out there right now on the long gun range.
Councillor Scott asks what the membership is right now. Currently there are 22 members, 11 of those are family memberships.
Councillor Kirby says we are an outdoor kind of town, and it’s a good thing to have. She went out there today and she can see the potential of the area.
Mayor McPherson says there’s a lot of debris around town from people heading out and shooting. He wonders if there would be less people shooting in gravel pits if they knew the range was there and available to locals, especially since the cost is only $35 for membership.
Elliot says there may be options for grants, too.
Motion to support on-time grant, not to exceed $16,000, from Council Initiatives Budget.
PROCLAMATION RE NATIONAL HEALTH AND FITNESS DAY
Mayor McPherson declared the first Saturday in June as National Health and Fitness Day, at the request of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
UBCM: STRATEGIC WILDFIRE PREVENTION INITIATIVE
A letter came before council UBCM to advising the Progress Payment (SWPI-389; CWPP Update, 2013) has been approved. Councillor Krakowka asks if this is part of Community Forest Fire Mitigation. Elliott says not a part of the current cut. Krakowka asks where then?
Elliott says he is not sure, but he can have Chief Treit speak to the issue.
PRRD RESOLUTION – IMPROVEMENTS TO HIGHWAY 52
The Peace River Regional District sent council a letter advising that the District passed a resolution pertaining to paving the remaining portion of Highway 52. The District requested the PRRD support Tumbler Ridge’s efforts to get the rest of the highway paved.
TUMBLER RIDGE MUSEUM FOUNDATION
The TR Museum Foundation is requesting a Letter of Support for a grant application to NDIT for renovations to the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery. Councillor Krakowka asks about renovations that he thought happened last year. He wonders if the District is accountable for the grant. Elliott says that the people who apply for the grant are responsible.
Councillor Scott says that she attended the last meeting, and they said this wouldn’t cost the District any money.
Councillor Mackay says he is a little worried about the changes being made to the District building.
Councillor Howe says he’s focusing on the fact that this would reduce cost, though he is worried about the fact that they’re making changes to the building without running it past the District.
Council passes motion of support.
BYLAW NO. 624: 2015-2019 FINANCIAL PLAN
Council voted against giving the first reading for the Financial Plan Bylaw.
BYLAW NO. 625: 2015 TAX RATES
Council unanimously voted against the 2015 Tax Rates Bylaw.
NDIT GRANT APPLICATION – REQUEST FOR SUPPORT
The TR Days Society has applied for a grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) for the purpose of purchasing portable sheds, banner support beams, tents and speaker scrims. One of the application requirements is a certified resolution of Council in support of this application. Council voted in support.
STRATEGIC PRIORITIES GAS TAX GRANT
Jordan Wall requested Council approval for a grant application that has been submitted to the Strategic Priorities Fund, for $2.1 million to build tourism biking infrastructure.
Councillor Howe asks if this limits our ability to get other grants. Wall says it would limit us in applying for this specific grant. This money comes from the Federal Government and covers Economic Diversification initiatives. Successfully getting this grant this year won’t affect it in future years, but as of right now there is only one more planned intake for this grant. There is also no time frame on when they will approve it.
Councillor Scott asks why this and not, say the indoor walking track. Wall says he uses the documents already in place, and this was something that was in that guidance and do-able in the time frame he had.
Councillor Krakowka says there are other key items on the list, but Wall says this grant went in well before the discussion they had.
Mayor McPherson says when he was at Whistler, his eyes were opened to how big mountain biking is.
Councillor Kirby says that it seems to her that a lot of the background for this happened with the Council before this one. She asks how much pressure this will put on Public Works and Emergency.
Wall says any infrastructure will involve increased maintenance cost. The construction would be done by outside companies, not by public works. Type of jobs that come out of this long-term is tourism, bike shops, etc.
Councillor Howe asks if we were to change the grant for a running track, is it still viable? He’d much rather see it go into the Community Centre. “Any project has to be regional in scope,” says Wall, “and it’s much easier to sell a mountain bike area as having a regional impact, though that’s up to the discretion of the people approving it.”
Howe says he can’t support this.
Wall says the Community Tourism Plan the previous Council brought in tourism experts to develop it, and they said mountain biking would be a good thing. That’s the recommendation coming from them. Unfortunately at this point, the grant is in. We can withdraw it, but we can’t change it.
One of the things that was included with the grant was letters of support from Dawson Creek. A walking track is not regional in scope. It says right in the application is having regional in scope. Having the Regional District sign on to this gives it much more weight.
“When I looked at the economic development aspect of it,” says Wall, “it’s amazing what mountain biking can do. In the past, mountain biking hasn’t had the backing of the District. If you had gone with the walking trail, it would be very insular, and the research just isn’t there to show the impact of walking tracks on bringing tourism.”
Councillor Mackay says he looks at what mountain biking has done for Burns Lake. If Tumbler Ridge becomes a part of that, we become part of the circuit. The zip line and the walking track would fall into secondary priority of things to do while you’re in town, but mountain biking brings people to town. This could easily be a mountain biking mecca. The circuit that follows this is a dedicated group. We don’t have a crystal ball, but according to the criteria of our sustainability plan, this works.
Councillor Scott asks if locals will build this, and will this lead to events?
Wall says we are months away from hearing back on if this grant is approved. They told him at least six months. It will be a year to get the plan ready to go, and then a couple years to build. We’re three years out from having this completed. That’s a very fast timeline. Most places take decades to develop their mountain biking infrastructure. I hope we would have festivals and races. It will add a recreation and tourism infrastructure that our core tourism market doesn’t have access to.
All in favour.
GEOPARK INAUGURATION EVENT – JUNE 29, 2015
The Geopark’s grand opening will be happening June 29. The Economic Development Officer is seeking up to $15,000 in funding to cover a dinner reception and tour for the VIP guests. Wall says the original idea was to have a BBQ, but there is a chance to make this big. Bring in high levels of government, industry, other communities. He wants to have a sit-down event. He believes that the opportunities will outweigh the cost, and while he can’t promise anything, he does believe that this will allow Tumbler Ridge to put its best foot forward.
Councillor Mackay agrees that this will be the pinnacle event. He moves that Council support this.
The mayor says he is in favour of this, too.
Councillor Scott asks if there has been any discussion of sponsorship? Wall says one of the things that a sit-down dinner does is give business the chance to donate. It’s a chicken and egg thing.
Councillor Krakowka asks how many people are they talking about, as the golf course only holds like, 100. Elliott says capacity is 145 inside.
Krakowka says he’d rather see industry donating to the Geopark rather than to cover the cost of the event.
CHETWYND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE – CHAINSAW CARVING EVENT
The District was planning on buying a chainsaw carving to help the Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce run their chainsaw completion, but Mr Elliott has found another carving for $3500.
Councillor Krakowka says the discussion was to try and support Chetwynd. “Maybe I’m wrong. But I’d rather be supporting my neighbour,” he says.
Councillor Mackay agrees. He also prefers the quality of the Chetwynd carving.
Elliott says this is not to dissuade Council from supporting Chetwynd, but just to present the option.
Councillor Krakowka moves that Council donate $10,000 to the Chetwynd Chainsaw Carving Competition from the portion that was allotted to buying a carving in the budget for the Visitor Centre.
Mayor McPherson says he went and checked out the carving in Chetwynd, and it is spectacular. And he says Chetwynd has always had Tumbler Ridge’s back.
TUMBLER RIDGE YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Tumbler Ridge has created a new YouTube Channel as part of the ongoing effort to improve tourism marketing in Tumbler Ridge. Wall says that the District has created a YouTube channels that highlight Tumbler Ridge, featuring videos by Brandon Braam.
Councillor Kirby has had a quiet couple of weeks. There are some radio ads happening soon that she’s excited about. Skyline Zipline is coming in tomorrow to do site evaluation. She visited the gun range. She has heard some concern that people are renting houses out to tenants that are not showing concern for the area.
Councillor Howe says he was out looking at logging down by cemetery and all the blowdown. He’s not happy with the logging that’s happening. Trying to get rid of one hazard and creating another. “I will be doing all I can do to stop it.” He says.
Worried about bad shape of roads now that spring is here. Worst spots are places where the roads have been repaired.
Beale says there is a paving management plan coming down. Roads are thirty years old, but the District needs to know what the attaching and in-ground infrastructure is like. No sense putting in brand new pavement if two years down the road you’re digging it up.
Councillor Krakowka says he’s been fairly busy. Friday May 17 attended DARE grad. Attended trade show in Dawson Creek, which was a huge success. May 25 attended seniors AGM. He says Council pre-approved their Grant-in-Aid, but they haven’t heard that.
He asks about Willow project. Elliott says he has a timetable, and they’re already working on it but he wasn’t able to get it to Council tonight.
He asks why the swimming pool was closed for an extra week. He says he heard that happened because a contractor wasn’t available. Ken Klikach says he was actually waiting for material, and he was finishing up a job in Fort St. John.
He also is worried about the troubles caused by logging.
Beale says hazard tree mitigation program. Any tree that isn’t regarded as a hazard hasn’t been taken down. Only other option is clearcutting. “We’ve done a fairly good job getting rid of hazard trees.”
He asks about a rumoured fight in the weight room. Yes, says Elliot. There was a fight. It has been dealt with. More information forthcoming.
Councillor Scott has been away, but has been in contact with Success by 6 Coordinator, who is interested in resurrecting the family needs committee.
She spoke with new operations manager for South Peace. They are going to gravel and do work on unpaved section of highway 52 which will keep it from deteriorating as quickly. She will be discussing it with her manager as to when it will be re-paved, and should know in next month, but it’s not happening this year.
April 22 met regarding NCLGA 2016 conference. They will be doing circle tour if it happens. They will find out this week at the NCLGA conference.
She is worried about falling trees.
Councillor Mackay says there was a concern raised early this morning about fawns in the area that is being logged. Right away supervisor was contacted, and the operator was contacted to say if any fawns were spotted, to stop.
Wildlife manager says any fawns spotted in the area are not this year’s fawn. Bringing the trees down is bringing the lichen down so the deer can get at it. But if there is anything extraordinary, they will stop.
He says logging is a contentious issue, but there have been public meetings, he says. These are not people just coming in and looking at it for dollars, they are looking at doing this the best way they can.
He Attended a meeting with other Peace River Communities around Site C impacts.
Attended PRLGA meeting. Heard update around Fair Share.
Seven TR students left here to go to UNBC to attend university for a week to experience what it’s like. This is the first time ever for Tumbler Ridge students.
We did have commitment that site 18 cleanup would begin in May. It’s May now.
Community Forest had two candidates for director position. Janette McDougall was the successful candidates. She has 13 years of experience in the Forest Industry. He moves that she be appointed the seventh member of the board. Passed.
Elliott says the last conversation he had about site 18: “we were this close to the document being prepped.”
Mayor McPherson says that just about everything he did, someone else went to. He mentions the doctor shortage in the South Peace. The three communities in the South Peace are forming a society.
He heard the update from Blair Lekstrom. It seems to be going in our direction a little.
Saw the workers out doing pavement patching by the water plant.
He says he can take some of the blame for the trees that fell down, as he was one of the people who fought hard to see more trees left standing, rather than cut down.