Regular Meeting of Council: October 21, 2015

Trent Ernst, Editor


Present: Mayor McPherson, Councillors Mackay, Scott, Krakowka, Howe, Kirby, Caisley



Blair Lekstrom, HD Mining, came before Council to provide an update on the Murray River Project given that their Provincial EA Certificate has been received, including an explanation of the next steps in the mine’s development and a discussion on permitting requirements that are still needed. Councillor Howe points out that his company has done work for HD, but does not recuse himself, as there is no vote happening.

“We are moving forward with Federal Environmental Assessment,” says Lekstrom. They also need the Mines Act Permit before they get underway. “We are continuing towards bulk sample, and are very close. I’m the eternal optimist, I’m sure it will work out, and that coal prices will shift a bit.” He says they are about 1328 m down, and only about 20 to 25 m from the coal. But the closer the get, the slower the going, as there are issues with coal bed methane. “Safety is our highest priority,” he says. “We can’t just tear ahead.”

He says the company is still very confident that the mine will be feasible, and 600–700 direct jobs will have a huge effect on economy of the town and the Peace Region. The decision is still a long way out, though.

There has been a lot of work on housing clean-up, but it is looking like spring before the landscaping gets underway. The tent is down, the site is prepared, and HD’s engineers are working with TR’s engineers.

He asks what mayor and Council want to see get done first? He says they will be a full seeding on both sides of Monkman, as well as landscaping. “The Provincial EA is a very important piece for us,” he says. “There are a number of conditions, one of which is to talk to you. For instance, medical. With that number of people coming to town, we need to talk and find out what needs to be done. This is our community, too.”

Councillor Howe asks if they’re aware of the motion he put forward two weeks ago. “The intent of that is to have people ready for you when you say we’re ready to go. This has been contentious, as some people say we’re overstepping our bounds, but do you think that will help your chances to employ people from Tumbler Ridge?”

Lekstrom says the company’s first challenge is to make sure there’s a mine. The company has not been collecting resumes, as they don’t want to get people’s hopes up. “We could collect a hundred resumes, but we don’t want to give them false hope. If the mine doesn’t go ahead, if it can’t go ahead, we don’t want people to get false hope.

“Also, I don’t know if you can collect information like that and hand it off to a company,” he says. “I’d check on that. You may be putting yourself into a difficult position. If there are people here who want to work, and we have a mine, we are going to make sure they have the training needed to do that. We applaud you for the idea behind that, but we’re not sure about this. We don’t want to do anything that will put us in a bind, or you in a bind.” He says having worked in local and provincial government, this might run afoul of the Community Charter.

Councillor Caisley asks if that applies to Chamber, too. Lekstrom says yes. “The trouble is if you are collecting info for one company, will you run into trouble with other companies?”

Lekstrom says that HD is working with Twin Sisters on landscaping. “Everyone knows how the project went. Another company built it for it. Huiyung Holdings stepped forward to make sure it would be brought to fruition. It is not going to be an eyesore. It has huge character and potential. I hope we can have a drawing for you as soon as the engineers reach a decision.”

Councillor Krakowka asks about the training centre.

“We can’t determine where Northern Lights decides to do training,” says Lekstrom. “For us, we want it as close as we can get it. It makes sense, you want as much training out here. But it’s a Northern Lights call. They are keenly aware what the training requirements are.”

On the question of if the mine will go through, Lekstrom says the price of coal without a question plays a part. “Our ability to withdraw coal and do it more cost effectively gives us an advantage. We can recover 90 percent of the seam; room and pillar is closer to 60 percent.” He says he hopes the market has hit the bottom, and will see a turnaround, but that’s still a few months out. “China’s slowdown is still impressive growth compared to us. We’re still very optimistic. We’re not here to say we are optimistic if we’re not.”

Councillor Howe says that the resume thing started because there is a mistrust in the community around HD Mine. “What I’m trying to bring forward is to get rid of that mistrust and build bridges. If we have a large box of resumes, we know we gave you 300 resumes. If Teck were to come in, we’d do that, too.”

He asks about Hydro seeding as opposed to top soil. Lekstrom says you can Hydro seed over anything and it will grow, but will it keep growing? “We are going to landscape, and put down top soil before we seed,” he promises.

Councillor Mackay says he’s not sure that Northern Lights needs to be in the equation at all.

Mine Manager Norm Johnson who has come with Lekstrom says the industry has no capacity in Canada at all. “It’s not just learning how to operate the equipment, it’s learning how to operate in the environment,” he says. “It takes time. Even if someone has done it before, they need refreshing. To say there are qualified people running around Canada who can do this is false. We have to build capacity for a whole new industry. Are there a thousand people who will be training? Probably not. Could we do it in the company? Yes, we could, but a lot of companies contract this sort of thing out, and that’s what we’re doing. That way, Northern Lights can take that and run with it.”

He also points out the company is not actively refusing resumes. “We can’t do anything with them, but we do accept resumes.”

Councillor Scott suggests a job fair closer to the opening. “If we collect resumes now, they might have a job by the time the mine gets going.”

Mayor says he was interviewed by a newspaper down in Vancouver that kept asking about HD. He says he’d sure like to do the tour so he can see the place and talk a little more intelligently about the place. Lekstrom says HD is open to that.

He says the federal government Environmental Assessment will be going out for public comment, target is end of November. “We wanted you to be aware of that. We strongly expect the EA will be delayed because of the Election. We are committed to Tumbler Ridge. I’ve lived in the Peace Region all my life. I wouldn’t serve a company that has ulterior motives. If our mine is a go, we will be here to work together.”


Colette Ernst came to provide an update on Success by Six. She says she is here to share their Strategic plan priorities and to update Council on what is happening in the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The original mandate of the Ministry of Children and Family Development was to advocate and build awareness for the needs of the early years and build collaboration between organizations that play a role in the development of early year’s children. The mandate of Success by Six includes the same goals but also the development of a Strategic Plan that looks at the gaps and strengths in each community and then works to use the strengths and shared resources to bridge the gaps. “In the last two years we have developed short and long term goals and priorities we are working to achieve,” she says.

In February 2013, the BC government released a provincial Early Years Strategy and in February 2014, the government established the Provincial Office for the Early Years, which is hosted by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. More information on this is in the report.

“With the launch of this new branch, the government is now launching a new initiative,” says Ernst. “They have realized that awareness and communication between groups has not had the wanted affect province wide of raising the Early Development Instrument scores in children. EDI scores measure five core areas of early child development that are known to be good predictors of adult health, education and social outcomes. What you should know is that while the rest of the province scores have decreased, the south peace scores have been increasing in the last five years. We are now on par with the rest of the province. This means the Peace area is on the right track.”

This is an important message they are working on sharing with all levels of government.

As part of the new strategies from the Ministry, they are funding Early Years Centres across BC and are in the process of a review of local early years planning in each community. It is their hope that key decision makers such as municipal governments are actively engaged.

“I want to thank the council for already being actively engaged in building our early years community. The goal of our strategic plan is to work together and I hope that this information will help inform you of what the early years’ priorities are and spur you to further discussions of how to support the early years community in Tumbler Ridge. One of the biggest things we can continue to do is focus on service integration and access. It is imperative that we all have the same knowledge base and work towards the same goals. This requires community level change that needs to be supported by the mayor and Council.”

Ernst says a group of Success by 6 coordinators met with Mike Bernier to bring this message to him, too. The mayor thanks her for what she and Success by 6 does for the community. “Would a letter of support help you with what you’re doing?” he asks.

She says the government are putting resource towards Early Year Centres. “It is about access to resources. In Tumbler Ridge we don’t have access to a lot of that stuff. We don’t have maternal support in TR, outside of doctors. There are no Lamaze classes, no maternity classes. Our doctors here don’t deliver. There have been the occasional emergency, but there is no local support system for babies. That’s where we need to work with the municipality, to work with people who have that voice.”

Councillor Krakowka says he sits on the Success by 6 table, and wants to thank the table for the work that happens there. He talked with someone who is doing the positive discipline course, and she said it was amazing.

Councillor Mackay says he sat on the board, too, and it’s unfortunate that the rest of the Council isn’t able to sit at that table and see all the ideas that come out of that group.

Councillor Kirby says Ernst does wonderful work. She has been part of childcare in Tumbler Ridge for years. She wants to work with Success by 6. She asks about the childcare plan for when mines come back. Ernst says she’ll discuss with the team.


Jim Cullen, President, Tumbler Ridge Legion, came before Council to request a Temporary Commercial Use Permit to allow the Legion to operate their kitchen and sell food to the public. On October 1, the Legion opened its new kitchen for members and guests. “We also offered to the pubic the opportunity to pick or have delivered food orders meaning that non-members would not be able to enter the Legion this is a requirement on our liquor license. Our kitchen was inspected by Northern Health and was approved.”

However, says Cullen, a few days later, CAO Barry Elliott contacted the Legion and told them there were some issues. Elliott informed the Legion that, if they sold food to the public, they “would be in jeopardy of losing our tax exemption. Elliott also said the Legion does not have the proper business license to sell to the public and that the property is not zoned for this sort of business.

“As for our tax exemption we get a small reduction in our property tax for the area in the basement and grounds used for recreational space and for being a non-profit organization,” says Cullen. “The issue of selling food to the public has nothing to do with this. We have a Commercial Business License and have always had one since the Legion was established in 1983 the only relevant information on that business license is Commercial Business License and the code CDl. If the code to allow the Legion to sell food is incorrect that should be easily rectified.

Building inspector Ken Klikach came over to do an inspection, says Cullen, and found that the stove fan was not big enough, the walk way between the cupboards and a prep table were to narrow and that our front steps into the Legion do not meet code.

“The Code for the front steps is that it be 11 inches wide and seven inches high, which they are,” says Cullen. “As for the kitchen, it was passed by Northern Health for the intended use that we are using it for.”

According to Cullen, Klikach also said the Legion’s outside deck would have to torn down as it is above a BC Hydro right of way. “When the Hartford Manor was built it was not an issue,” says Cullen. “In fact the hydro box feeding Hartford Manor was purchased by the Legion and at that time we were told that if anyone else was to get power from that box the original cost would be shared, that never happened. The Legion does accept the responsibility that if Hydro had to dig under the deck that we would be our responsible to remove it at our cost.”

As for the zoning issue, says Cullen, the Legion purchased the land in the early 1980s from the District and the zoning should have been in place at that time. “The Legion has been paying tax on the property since that time and the property was never transferred to the Legion. The assessments come to the Legion, however the property is still registered to the District which makes me wonder why the Legion is paying tax for property that we have not received.

“We also realize that there are several non-profit organizations and businesses that are running under the District that do not pay tax such as the Lions Campground, Monkman Campground, Willow Hall and the Golf Course to name a few. So I believe that the Legion has been paying its way, above and beyond any other non-profit organization in the District of Tumbler Ridge.”

The Legion is asking Council to make a Temporary Commercial Use Permit to allow the Legion to operate its Kitchen and sell food to the public until such time that the District changes the zoning were the Legion is located, says Cullen.

“In closing, I would like to say that the Legion has been suffering since the mine closures and operating at a loss but we still manage to give back to the community. Barry [Elliott] asked me why a non-profit should be able to sell to the public when other business has to pay tax. The answer is the Legion has every right to sell anything from nuts and bolts to pizza as any other business does. The Legion pays PST, GST, and Property Tax and has a Business License as most business do, the only difference is that we have a status of being non-profit that we received from Canada Revenue Agency and our profits go back into the community instead of the pockets of business owners or shareholders. I hope that council would give these issues your full attention and direct the District to make the necessary change to make this happen. The Legion has invested a lot of monies to make the necessary changes and have created four new positions that Tumbler Ridge really needs at this time.”

Cullen says they’ve lost about $40,000 since mine closures, and are looking for way to rebuild the Legion. One of the ways was to put in a kitchen, which theydid in March, thought it took until October to open. “We thought we were doing everything right, but after we opened, we were contacted by Barry saying we weren’t doing it right. That’s why we are here today, to try and resolve that, and to request a temporary commercial permit so we can offer food.” Cullen is not sure if it would be better to rezone the property as commercial.

Another issue. The Legion purchased land in 1987 and paid for it in 1993. “The property has never been transfered to Legion,” he says, “It somehow slipped by us.”

He says they were told the only way to do it was through lawyer, which would cost $3000. However, when they talked to people at BC Land Titles, they say a lawyer is not necessary. The District and the Legion just have to fill out the paperwork, give BC Land Titles a $75 cheque, and it’s done.

He asks about the street closures for Remembrance Day. Mayor says there should be no problem with this one.

Cullen presents District with a cheque for the Memorial park. He says it looks fantastic. When the flowers come out in spring, it’s going to look even better.

Councillor Howe asks about the variance. Does that have anything to do with Tumbler Ridge, or is that BC Hydro.

Aleen Torraville is not sure.

Howe asked about the Legion zoning.

Torraville says it is zoned P2. “They are taxed based on that as well as permissive tax exemption they get annually,” she says.

Howe asks how hard it is to change zoning. To change that, says Torraville, it would mean amending the OCP. “They are applying for a Temporary Use Permit that will allow them two years to operate, providing all the other conditions are met, without having to rezone. After a year, they can request another year. After that, they’d have to reapply.”

Councillor Krakowka asks about the pizza outlet in residential. Is that different in regards to zoning?

That would be R1 or R2, says Torraville. Because they are in residential, there home is classified as a business, so they don’t qualify for the provincial home owner’s grant.

Councillor Mackay asks if they should be sitting down and talking over concerns to find out the best way to go about this.

Mayor refers it to staff.

Lloyd Hamburg says the government is streamlining the liquor licenses, and are doing away with the club license. The Tumbler Ridge Legion isn’t sure what new license they would fall under, as most Legions do have a kitchen, so they fall under the restaurant license. They are still waiting to hear exactly what license to get.

Mayor says we’ll get working on this and see what can be done.



The New Life Assembly Family Assistance Program wrote a letter to Council, requesting suggesting November 21 or November 28 for the dates of the annual food drive. Best date is November 28.


A letter was written thanking Mayor McPherson for attending the Sixth Annual Geoscience BC Mayors Breakfast during UBCM 2015.

Halloween Bonfire

TR Lions Club is looking for street closures for Halloween, as well as assistance in set up and takedown of event and use of ten tables.



Council gives final reading to the District of Tumbler Ridge Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw.


Council gives first three readings to the District of Tumbler Ridge Traffic and Highways Regulation Bylaw. The new bylaw will make it illegal for people to park in front of District garbage bins, on District Property that is not designated for parking (in a playground, etc.), or in a manner that interferes with snow removal. The new bylaw also has language around towing and impounding vehicles, chattles and rubbish.


Council gave first three readings to the District of Tumbler Ridge Municipal Ticket (MTI) Information Bylaw, to reflect the new changes in the Traffic and Highway Regulations.



Council approved costs not to exceed $5,000 to accommodate Mayor McPherson and Councillor Mackay’s attendance at the Clean Energy BC Generate 2015 Conference which is being held in Vancouver from November 1 to November 4, 2015.


To provide an Administrative report on the investment progress for the District of Tumbler Ridge for the period ending August 31 2015. “Council will note that the District’s investment returns have increased by $17,077 for the month of August 2015, resulting in overall investment returns of $167,261 for the year compared to $85,347 for the comparable period in 2014, and $60,771 for the comparable period in 2013,” reports Financial Manager Chris Leggett. “Following a downward fluctuation in the MFA long Term Bond Fund Rate of Return (ROR), the Weighted Average Rate of Return (WAROR) on the portfolio has decreased by 0.001 % (1.4942 vs 1.4952 or 1 one-thousandth of a percent) This fluctuation was mitigated by the high level of investment diversification within the portfolio.”

Councillor Scott is wondering if it will be discussed at the next budget meeting. This is the monthly report that we asked for, says mayor.

Councillor Howe says in light of previous discussion, need to look at how we’re investing. Need to go back to drawing board. I’m lead to believe that we can do better, so we should revisit during budget.

Councillor Caisley wonders if this should be put on a Policy and Priorities agenda to discuss the process so staff is aware of process we want to have followed.

Mayor says so we can also be aware of any limitations.

Howe says this is not something that is discussed in a couple hours. It needs its own meeting.


Council accepted the Tumbler Ridge Wildfire Mitigation Project Management Agreement and authorizes the Mayor and the Corporate Officer to sign the Tumbler Ridge Wildfire Mitigation Project Management Agreement with the Tumbler Ridge Community Forest Corporation on behalf of the District of Tumbler Ridge. Nothing will happen without Council’s approval, says Councillor Mackay, but this allows us to move ahead on doing the research. Without an agreement, we don’t go ahead with that work. Not a stick will be removed without Council’s approval.

Councillor Krakowka says that for the last one, there was some discussion that Council didn’t have a choice. That’s because that was crown land, says Councillor Mackay.

Mayor says the work on the road out to the golf course isn’t what he was expecting. Mackay says it isn’t finished. They are still working on that.

Councillor Caisley says one of the things he’s bothered by is the amount of forestry taking place around Tumbler Ridge. There are clearcuts around town. “Would it be possible to have put together an overview of municipal boundaries and then what logging is taking place? If we don’t become better informed about it, we won’t be able to do anything about it. There might not be any avenue of recourse, but it goes on and on and on.”

Mayor says Duncan is the expert, should have him come in and tell us if there is anything we can do. Not only is it the municipality, but it’s the Geopark.

Councillor Scott says thanks for the update on cleanup, as it was a concern of her. She wants to know what the time frame is around that. She says she sees a lot of stuff that is just being left now.

Councillor Mackay says he agrees. There’s been a remarkable change in the back country. We still hold on to a lot of ancient ideas about what get left behind. Mostly what you’re looking at is cutblocks that aren’t the Community Forest’s.

Council asks staff to bring in the Community forester to a meeting.

Councillor Howe says one of the big asks was an increase in the size of the Community Forest. “If you want logging, you have to deal with the cutblocks. Don’t send mixed signals.”


A report intended to provide Council with administrative comments, and a subsequent administrative recommendation, in relation to the Legion letter, dated October 9, 2015, as provided to Council by Jim Cullen, Royal Canadian Legion – Branch 286 President.



Councillor Caisley has nothing to report.

Councillor Kirby has been doing work preparing for next year’s tourism season. Met with Birgit, who said there were 3300 people who went down trail to Dinosaur trackways. Was at Elementary School for music performance. Involved in Pumpkin Patch event. More people this year than last year. More people from Chetwynd and Dawson. Will try and build on that next year. Firepit was stolen, though. Sad to see that. TR Days AGM. Vote. Would like to see Geopark coordinator in VIC centre.

Councillor Howe says new lighting in the arena is excellent. From all accounts, everyone likes it. Didn’t interrupt anyone’s ice time. Asks about road patching on road to Kinuseo Falls. Mayor says he was phoned by CNRL that Council had stated that their performance on that road was affecting our tourism. Got talking about it. They said to get a paving crew to go out and fix that, it would be $40,000. So mayor suggested that we have had local people patch before. Didn’t last very long. Mayor says we have a hot patch machine, and see if we can get it out there. Talked to Barry, talked to Doug. No problem, as they would be paying for it. “At the time,” says the mayor, “I thought it was a competition between District paver and out of town paver. That’s the way it got started. In my opinion it was locals working on a local road, rather than bringing in people from Kelowna. I’ve seen it said they don’t do much in town, but they do. They’ve been paying taxes for longer than any business around here, and at one point in time they were our biggest taxpayer.”

Howe says there are a number of businesses in town that do that kind of work. “How do we walk that fine line? It was brought to my attention by three or four residents, and I don’t want to see up perceived as competing with businesses.”

Councillor Caisley says it should have come to council. “I understand you authorized public works to go out there.” He says to the mayor.

“No,” says Mayor McPherson, “I just asked. I am the one that brought it to them. I don’t think that any of us thought we thought we were competing with local business at the time.”

Councillor Caisley says if the town is going to use our resources to work on areas that are not our responsibility, it should come before Council.

Councillor Howe says this underlines the importance of communication between District and people who use these services. “Before we do paving, we should put it out to public. That was something that was a clear directive,, but it didn’t get out. That was the optimal time for CNRL to do it, too. We need to get that information out to the public so they can tag on with that.”

Councillor Kirby says that road to Kinuseo Falls has been “a burr in our butt” for years. But what happens next year? “CNRL’s responsibility is that first 26 km, she says. “The fact that they called us to fix it disturbs me.”

Mayor says they didn’t call the mayor hoping to get it fixed; it just came out of the conversation.

“What did it cost them to do it?” she asks.

“We quoted $5000,” says the mayor.

Councillor Mackay says he attended the 70th anniversary ceremony of the liberation of Holland at the cenotaph. Says Public Works employees have done a real great job on public gardens.

Wonders if there can be a different day for the P&P meeting, as there isn’t always enough time between P&P and regular meeting for staff to get everything done: all the reports, etc.

He is in favour of the Geopark using the VIC space.

He has had meetings with both schools and volunteers around providing funding for food for students. He moves the District provide up to $25,000 as seed money for a program. Councillor Krakowka recuses himself. Councillor Howe asks who would control the money. Mackay says there is a cooking class at the high school. They have a breakfast program. Under the discretion of the principal, a kid can be given a ticket for breakfast.

That’s the easy part, he says. At the elementary school, there is no food safe kitchen. It will have to be non-perishable food. It’s a little bit out of our mandate, he says, but it’s something that is needed. Councillor Caisley says he doesn’t understand the need for secrecy. He also wants to hear from the school around this. He is not aware of this situation and why it exists. Councillor Mackay says he’s talked to people at the school, but it’s highly unlikely that they would come out to a public meeting. The mayor asks if it is something that could be handled in close. Councillor Kirby says she is on the Parent Advisory Committee, and says there is a need for sensitivity. She says you need to address the issue for the community on the whole. It takes a community to raise a child. Maybe this is something that should be more community oriented, run it through the churches. She thinks it needs more discussion.

Councillor Scott asks what happens when that $25,000 is used up?

Mayor suggest that Council wants to have more discussion on this. Scott says healthy needs committee, family needs committee, these all want to be involved.

Kirby says kids are hungry right now, so maybe something in the interim.

Councillor Mackay votes for, rest against, as they want to discuss it further.

Councillor Scott says patching of Murray Road was problematic, and possibly a violation of the charter. “From when we heard about it, until it was finished was between two council meetings. It should have been brought to council. We are putting a hold on our pothole repair in town, as we are waiting on an asset management plan.” She is wondering when that will be completed. That plan is critical for determining spending. Torraville says there is not a date right now. She’ll give Urban Systems a call to ask for a date.

Scott points out that CNRL is hiring truckers from out of town, so they aren’t perhaps supporting our  town as much as they say. Suggests that CNRL could donate to the food program for the school.

Lions Club went through 280 hot dogs. Five bins of Pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch Party.

She voted. Excellent turnout.

Attended TR Days AGM.

Disappointed to see damage to signs along highway and in town.

Is hoping Jordan can attend next planning meeting for NCLGA.

Family Needs Committee meeting will be held to discuss spray park proposal.

She makes a motion re performance audit. Councillor Caisley recommends discussing this at P&P, as he doesn’t know anything about it.

Scott says this is a performance audit, to look at how to stay on track and identify best practices.

Wonders about letter to Ministry re: paving of Highway 52. Torraville says she’s not aware. Scott asks about abandoned equipment at km 5 on Wolverine.

Councillor Krakowka attended bulb planting and ceremony. Hats off to fire department for drop as well as TR Days Society. She attended TR Days AGM. He asks about the idea of the tree planted at Roman Walkway.

Howe says the Meeting Action Summary Sheet has gone missing. Had it for a couple meetings, but it should stay on there. “If we have to flip through seven pages of stuff, we should have it there. That would clear up a lot of these issues.”

Howe asks if there’s something illegal with the Action Summary Sheet. There is not, says Torraville. She says Notice of Motions should be made in Notice of Motions section, so that motion can be ready for discussion at next meeting

Howe attended ATV club meeting.

Mayor McPherson says there seems to be a problem with conflict of interest. He says Council needs more information around that.