Regular Meeting of Council, October 7, 2015

Trent Ernst, Editor

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



Ray Proulx came before Council to provide an update on the Quintette Project. He says he hates to be anticlimactic, but there’s not a lot of happy news to report. Of course, there’s not a lot of bad news, either. The project continues to be under care and maintenance, says Proulx.

At this stage, most of the equipment has been redistributed. “What we’re working on is environmental monitoring,” says Proulx. This includes water monitoring of Murray and Babcock Watersheds. There are currently seven people on site. “The downtown storefront still exists, but I’m not there,” he says. “We’ve entered into a non-occupant lease. We retain all our improvements, but nobody is in there. This way we won’t leave a gaping hole in the downtown core. I am working out at the mine site, working more in environmental role. Despite poor commodity prices, we’re still maintaining community investment. We have a limited cash budget, but can still do in-kind donations.”

Teck’s overall cash position is strong, says Proulx. “There are a lot of smart people at helm of company.” However, coal is not doing well, globally. Copper’s not doing well, either. Neither is zinc’s. “We’re looking at ways to reduce operating costs,” he says. “Everyone is sharpening their pencils. We’ve trimmed the fat, and now we’re going on paleo diet to squeeze the last bit out. We want to be in a position so that we can act quickly when the commodity market comes back. While there’s lots of rumours flying, you’ll hear what our plans are from us first.”

Councillor Howe asks about if there is an opportunity to use rail siding. Who would Council talk to? Proulx says they could start with him, and go from there. Devil is in the detail in situation like this.

Mayor asks if tours would be possible through the closed site.
A commercial operator acting on another commercial tenure is a tricky proposition, says Proulx. “We’ve talked about offering our own tours, but it is a dicey proposition. Safety is paramount, but we have our reclamation obligations to the province, so they ultimately have a say about what happens.”


Andrew Hamilton, Organizer of IUOE Local 115 and David De Sousa came before Council to discuss concerns pertaining to construction projects such as Site C Dam and LNG development. De Sousa says IUOE has the privilege of representing 1200 workers that have built most of the dams in this province. It breaks our heart that the Province has seen fit to award parts of the project to out of province contractors who are bringing in their entire crews.

In Campbell River, he says, the John Hart dam is having a million dollar retrofit. BC Hydro has entered into an agreement to give priority to local residents.

BC Hydro is boasting 80 percent local hire. That’s a direct injection of a billion dollars into that economy, yet just yesterday Bill Bennett announced that he wouldn’t compel contractors to hire locally. Morgan Construction, an Alberta company, is just going to bring in their entire crew.

How much money is the Alberta Government putting into this, asks De Sousa? None. “This is occurring in your back yard,” he says. “There are people who are trained, skilled, and willing to work on this who aren’t being offered a chance. In this town alone, there’s so many people who could do this. It’s a ten year project that could provide family-supporting jobs.”
De Sousa says he has stood at the gate and counted the Alberta plates coming in. “I know those people need jobs, too, but it’s our money, and greater emphasis should be placed on BC Hydro to hire locally.”

Councillor Howe says he’s pretty active in the construction industry, so he knows what’s happening. He asks was there any 115 companies bidding? Yes, says De Sousa. The bids for the next contract are being accepted until November 9. “There are four proponents bidding on this,” he says. “One of the companies, Aecon, has an agreement with us, and if they are accepted, then it will be built like the John Hart project. Right now, we are eight weeks into the project, and an ugly trend is happening. I’m not aware of one IUOE member who has been hired yet.”

De Sousa says he talked to the head of Morgan and was told “‘I have my own crew and I’m not willing to employ people who may not share Morgan’s culture.’”

In years past, he says, companies wouldn’t be able to do this. He says the Minister recently made a statement that, if kept to local hires, cost could go up to 12 billion. “It upsets me that it implies that people in this region demands sky high wages. There hasn’t been a dam in the last fifty years that has had 30 percent cost overruns. I believe he’s shooting from the hip when he makes statements like that.”

Councillor Howe asks if Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) are being brought in. De Sousa says not yet, though he believes the statements made by the Minister opens the door to TFWs. “I’m not anti-foreign workers. We sanctioned PRC to bring in TFWs because they couldn’t find any heavy duty mechanics. We gave them all our apprentices and all our journeymen. We assisted them to bring in twelve mechanics and help them move here to Tumbler Ridge. But to cut out locals? Employ us all and then if you need more, then open the door and bring them in from every comer of the world.”



Louise Rogers, MA, RSW, of Child and Youth Mental Health Services of the South Peace sent a letter, updating Council on the referral process for Child and Youth Mental Health Services in Tumbler Ridge.


The Lung Association of British Columbia sent information to Council on Radon awareness. The mayor proclaims November as Radon Aware Month.


Roxanne Gulick, President of the Tumbler Ridge Chamber of Commerce sent a letter in support of the District’s interest in developing new adventure options.


Destination BC sent a letter, advising that base funding will be provided to the District of Tumbler Ridge for the years 2016 – 2018.


The Ambulance Paramedics of BC sent a letter entitled “Downloading of Ambulance Service in the Making”, around the dispute between the BC Emergency health Services Commission and the Municipality of Delta.


Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development sent proclaiming October 2015 as Foster Family Month.


Northern Lights College invited Council to their 40th Anniversary Celebration being held Friday, October 23, 2015 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.



Council gave the first three readings to the District of Tumbler Ridge Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw.



Council approved a request for a fee waiver of Curling Rink rental fees, use of bus tubs, portable bar, tables and chairs, and possibly the stage for the weekend of July 22 – 24, 2016 for the purpose of hosting events for a 15-year Quintette employee reunion. The total cost of fees and labour would be $1,155.75. The funds were to be pulled from the Council Initiatives Budget, but, as this is for next year, it will come from Council Special Initiatives
Councillor Mackay says a lot of people have said they’re coming. If even half of those people show up, they will take over this town, and it will be a boon to this town. It will be a massive benefit to this community.

Councillor Krakowka asks what the cost difference would be between the curling rink and the ice rink, because they might need more space. He suggests an amendment to waive the fee if they need the bigger space.

All in favour.


Council approved the application for a Temporary Commercial Use Permit to Dawson Creek Veterinary Clinic (2002) Ltd., valid from October 7, 2015 to October 6, 2017, and approved the Lease Agreement between the District of Tumbler Ridge and the Dawson Creek Veterinary Clinic for the operation of a mobile veterinary clinic for a three-year term beginning September 2, 2015 and ending on September 30, 2018 for the monthly lease rate of $300.00.


Council supports the appointment of the District of Chetwynd Chief Administrative Officer as the third regional appointee to the Partnership Committee under the provisions of the Peace River Agreement.
Councillor Krakowka asks how the District picked one over the other. Elliott says the District of Chetwynd made the first overtures; they are one of the smaller communities with a hefty interest. CAO from Hudson Hope is willing to serve as alternate. This will circulate amongst all CAOs. I can assure Council that the District of Chetwynd’s CAO will remain in contact. All decisions that affect the Council will have to come back to the District.


Councillor Mackay says it is a special moment to be having this meeting in the Visitor Centre.

He attended the Community Forest meeting. He thanks Councillor Krakowka for attending. They discussed the interpretive trail across from the High School, which Sarah Mahaffey will be spearheading. There was some discussion on Fire Mitigation down by golf course, but they need Council’s approval. If it goes ahead, it will require a lot of care and attention. He says because of sensitivity of the location (around the golf course), it will probably run at a loss, but it is part of the prescription. All blocks have been replanted, but some mortality in pine blocks. They have 25,000 trees to plant around golf course. Donating $10,000 to food bank, $5000 to Minor Hockey.

He attended the meeting with Premier, and one of the things that was brought up was need to expand the Community Forest. He says Council needs to set up meeting with First Nations to discuss plans around Community Forest.

Last meeting he brought up the need to provide support for kids who don’t have enough food. While the library has started on their own project, he wants to discuss what Council can do at the next Policies and Priorities meeting. He attended UBCM.

Councillor Scott had a five hour meeting regarding land expansion and development. She, too, attended UBCM. One of the things that she learned there, regarding the earlier discussion on Site C is that Alberta based businesses can operate at 25 percent less because of fewer rules.

She moves that staff draft a letter to MLA Mike Bernier re the unpaved portion of Highway 52. All in favour. She attended Budget meeting, the all candidates forum and the NCLGA planning meeting.

Councillor Krakowka attended Community Forest Meeting, says it was interesting to get insight into what goes on there. He also attended Lions club garage sale and pancake breakfast and the BC Hydro job fair. He is concerned about land issues, and is wondering where the District is going to go with that. “I’ve had numerous residents approach me about it,” he says. “I think we need to do an open house on it.” Finally, he attended Forever Young Society meeting.

Councillor Caisley attended UBCM.

Councillor Kirby attended a meeting with Urban Systems around land expansion and development. She attended UBCM. Minister Bond has really taken Tumbler Ridge under her wing, observes Kirby. One of the suggestions was connecting the Museum with Thompson Rivers University.
She attended Geopark meeting and the PAC meeting. The good news is, the numbers are higher than expected and they had to hire a new teacher. She attended the TRSS garage sale, and the NBC Tourism AGM in Prince George. “$14-billion dollars come to the province through tourism,” she says.

Councillor Howe didn’t go to UBCM. “Big thing for me is HD Mining proposal,” he says. “We need to start actively collecting resumes to forward to HD Mining in case they do go forward.” Councillor Mackay says perhaps it should be done through the Chamber of Commerce, as the Economic Development Office is pretty tapped.

Howe says HD reps sat in council chambers and said that locals were cheaper to employ. “Well, then, let’s prove it,” he says. “When they decide to go ahead, we can hand them a stack of resumes.”

Elliott says staff is keeping in close contact with HD and all industry. “I appreciate the comment, but having us take the role of HR Department for HD wouldn’t work well,” he says. “But could I suggest that we take all reasonable steps to encourage local employment. Keep it a little more broad.”

Howe says he wants the idea to stand. He says he wants less talk and more action. Councillor Scott suggests a job fair. Howe says that’s a step, but wants to do more. “I talk to people every day who say ‘what are you doing to get us jobs?’” Councillor Scott says that’s not the role of Council. Howe says it is. “Not to compete with business but to do what we can to get our locals employed.”

Councillor Caisley says he doesn’t have a problem with the idea as long as it’s just collecting the resumes. “It’s a matter of workload, but if we can handle it, fine.”

Councillor Kirby says she thinks it’s extra work on something that’s not coming for a couple years. “We need to focus on the training centre,” she says. “That’s something that we need to make sure happens here. It can’t be any other place but Tumbler Ridge. Once it’s up and running, then yes. Right now it’s premature. We don’t want to collect these resumes and have them say, ‘We’ll get back to you in three years.’ Let’s start with the training centre.”

Councillor Caisley says in terms of dropping off resumes, he doesn’t see that as a interfering with anything.

Mayor McPherson says every time Council has talked to HD or the province, they’ve said they want to see Canadians working at the mine. “I agree, having the numbers would be a good thing. I don’t know if we want to take some time to talk about it.”

The issue comes to a vote. It passes, with councillors Scott and Kirby voting against.

Councillor Howe asks if a date has been set for Town Hall meeting? Not yet. He suggests that it happen in the VIC. He says there was a question asked by a resident about a monitoring unit up by the race track. Nobody knows what it is.

Mayor McPherson was at UBCM, where he attended a meeting with the premier. “It went awesome,” he says. “They think we’re heading in the right direction. Called us a poster child for communities in the province.”
There is a preliminary map of the HD property improvements, he says. Staff is looking it over and will be making suggestions. There’s no way what they’ve given us is going to work, he says, but it’s a start.

He received a letter from the Chamber of Commerce supporting the Geopark manager going into office at VIC.

He attended a PRRD Meeting and a Cumulative Impact on Resource Community Meeting in Prince George. “I was about the only community representative there. Everyone else was environmental.” He says he was a bit surprised by the attitudes expressed there. He attended the all candidates forum.