Special Meeting of Council: March 3, 2016

Trent Ernst, Editor

Present: Councillors Caisley (acting mayor), Howe, Krakowka, Kirby, Scott, Mackay

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Council approved the creation of an off-leash dog park during the District of Tumbler Ridge 2016 Budget deliberations. Councillor Krakowka says he’s met with some of the residents before they came before Council as a delegation. He says there would be some cost to the District and he’s hoping Council will support. Councillor Howe says this is just to put it on the budget, and a cost will come forward. Yes, says Krakowka. Howe says there was something in the budget about doing improvements to the old ball diamonds. Because the dog park proposal is for that area, he’s hopes before that goes ahead, this will be discussed and if this is a direction Council wants to go, it will be given a shot. Councillor Caisley asks about maintenance of the site, too, and hoping it will be added to the agenda for further consideration. Councillor Howe also wants staff to look at legal considerations. “That’s my only fear, and I don’t quite get the impact of what we’re taking on by creating a park to put dogs together, where if we have an incident over there, does the use of that park open us up to being libel for an incident that would happen there?”

Wall says those are excellent questions. He says staff will be looking at both overall cost and legal considerations and will come to Council with the information they have. “At that time our recommendation might be we need more time, because sometimes things that look simple have legal ramifications, so we might say we can do it, but not this year. What you’re looking at doing right now is just flipping it over to administration to get more information.”


Council added $250,000 in the 2016 Budget for mulching services. Howe asks where this price comes from; he’s done research and a used mulcher is only $60,000. “Would this include manpower to operate it for the year, or is this just for the unit?” Wall says this motion is coming forward from Mayor McPherson, and he’s not here today, however, he believes the cost would include an operator. Councillor Caisley asks if this decision is time sensitive? Wall says this would need to be decided on at the March 31 meeting. Howe says he hopes that all groups get a fair shot at using the services of the mulcher. Councillor Mackay asks if there are any available grants for trail maintenance. Wall says for any project that gets approved in the budget, they are always looking at grants.


Tumbler Ridge Secondary has successfully completed its second year running a fish farm. This year, they are looking at raising trout instead of gold fish, which could then be released into a community pond, which would be designated as a Municipal park. The pond under consideration is just south of the school and a short walk from the downtown core behind the Visitor Information Centre. Kids under 16 could fish for free. Council made a motion to move forward with looking at making the pond area a Municipal Park designation, which in turn compliments the TR children’s curriculum.

Councillor Scott says Mr Deeley is coming as a delegation to talk about the proposal and fish farm shortly, and suggests a decision on this wait until after that. Wall recommends that if Council wants to add this to this year’s budget to make the motion now, as the timelines are getting short for reports. He says there will be a lot of considerations on this one, from First Nations Consultation to Provincial regulations.


Council approved $10,000 in the 2016 Budget for Action Items as determined in the summary for the current assessment being conducted.


Council moved that a procedure or spreadsheet be developed for tracking grants until completed and that this is communicated to Mayor and Council on a quarterly basis. Councillor Howe says Council hasn’t seen a lot of updates from what is happening with the grant writing, so he’s happy to see this. Councillor Scott says she’s hoping to see a complete list of grants, as opposed to just the ones the District is working on.


At this meeting, Council identified six priorities to forward to CAO Wall to be started and/or completed in this budget year. These six priorities are: Purchase and/or rent a mulcher and blue bin recycling; Implement the asset management plan; Finish paving certain projects, such as a walking path around town, upgrade the cart path from Monkman RV Park to golf course and the VIC parking lot. The fourth priority is development of local resources, like the Flatbed swimming hole, the local camping facilities, the dog park and to investigate creating a high-end RV park. The fifth priority would be to expand residential lots and land options and create a municipal park. The last priority is to investigate a co-generation bio-mass initiative with BC Hydro. Wall asks if these are the priorities overall, or if the ones in the report are top priorities. Councillor Caisley says his understanding is that these are the top priorities. There are other ongoing objectives that are important, he says, but these are the ones Council wants to focus on for this year.


Last year, sand, garbage bins and picnic tables were added to this area. This year, they are hoping to establish a picnic area and open space, which would involve clearing about a half an acre, removing some hazardous trees and seeding the area. It would also need to be maintained, and the proposal is to add this area to the Lions Club contract for the operating and maintenance agreement. Council approved this motion. Councillor Krakowka asks if the Lions have been asked if they want to take this on. Councillor Mackay says in conversations he’s had with Lion Frank Walsh, the Lions have been taking care of this area already anyway.

There is some discussion around the scope of the motion, as it is unclear. Councillor Caisley asks why there are no fire pits included in this proposal. Councillor Mackay says there is a pit closer to the water, but the area in question is too close to the trees.

Wall says he’s not even sure the area is the District’s to give out. He suggests Council not pass the motion as written. He recommends Council staff include this in the budget deliberations, but once they know more information, they can enter into those discussions.

Motion defeated. A new motion to look at the cost of clearing this area in the 2016 budget deliberations is passed.


Councillor Kirby says in the past, there has been some trouble getting grants, as for each grant that comes up, the time has to go in to research the project. Or, if an investor comes looking for a project to invest in, there are few projects ready to go. She recommends Council direct Staff to determine costs to get five projects “shelf ready” for the 2017 Budget. Some examples of projects that could be made shelf ready are the Zipline, the Suspension Bridge, a fairground, a theatre in the Community Centre, the dog park and the outdoor rink. Councillor Howe asks if Council will have some say in determining which projects are made shelf ready. Councillor Kirby says how the rest of strategic planning goes will determine which projects are selected. Councillor Caisley says when they looked at the list, there were far more than five that were under discussion, so getting five ready to go would be a good idea. Councillor Howe asks which projects are selected. “Should staff just pick the ones that are listed in this list and assume these are the ones Council wants them to get ready, or should we be having a side discussion to say these are the ones we want them to devote their time to, because some of the ones listed in here I don’t agree with at this point, so I think we need to have a discussion around Council.”

Councillor Caisley says that conversation is absolutely required. Councillor Kirby says the ones listed were just put down for example. She also is curious if there are any projects that are shelf ready.

Councillor Scott asks if this is something that needs to be dealt with now. CAO Wall says the best thing to do is set aside a set amount of money to do research for creating shelf ready projects. That will give Council the freedom to determine what projects they want to see made shelf ready. However, that means that most of the projects won’t be shelf ready for 2017, but for 2018. “If you want something shelf ready for 2017, we’re going to need that very soon.”

Councillor Kirby asks if there are any shelf-ready projects now?

Wall says the Quality Lake proposal might be. He says pool upgrades, town hall upgrades, lagoon upgrades, and fire hall envelope improvements are all shelf ready. “We do have quite a lot of projects that are shelf-ready, it’s just how long do we want to keep them on the shelf?” He says most of these projects will be going ahead this year.

Councillor Mackay says he hates to see grants go by without the District being able to collect on that. Wall says there are enough projects that will end up on the ready shelf. However, if there is a specific project that Council wants to see made shelf ready, it is important they give that direction to staff.

Councillor Scott says she was looking at strategic plan for this year; she thinks that should be Council’s focus.


Council directed Staff to price out the costs of wrapping the District SUV. Councillor Krakowka says he thinks this is a good idea; they drive the vehicle all over the place, why not use it to show off Tumbler Ridge? “It attracts attention,” agrees Councillor Kirby.


Council directed staff to put Billboards into the Economic Development Budget for 2016-2017. Councillor Scott asks if there is a cost on that. Wall says he would take this as a strategic direction for the Economic Development department. Councillor Howe asks if there has been a discussion about putting up billboards outside other communities telling them to come live in Tumbler Ridge. “Maybe we should write a letter to the Council of Fort St. John, because maybe they wouldn’t like us poaching their residents.” Councillor Scott suggests it be discussed on March 14. Councillor Kirby says most of the billboards are electronic these days, so the option is to promote all aspects of Tumbler Ridge. Councillor Krakowka says he wants to see people working at Site C and living in the suburbs of Tumbler Ridge. “But I agree with Councillor Howe that we don’t want to be stepping on toes.” He says he would want to see what the sign would look like before it went up.


Councillor Kirby says last year, when Council met with the Ministers, there were discussions on the completion of highway 52, and of the Kinuseo Falls Road (Murray River Forest Service Road) being changed to a seasonal road. She moves that Mr. Wall draft a letter to all attendees of that meeting and get a response on the progress of these discussions and request further discussions if necessary.


Councillor Kirby says that people want to be able to access parks, even when they are closed. Gwillim Lake has a gate at the entrance, which means that the lake is inaccessible to boaters before the May long weekend and after Labour Day long weekend. In addition, she says that residents would like to be able to use the day use areas at the Lions Campground during these times as well. She moves that staff draft a letter to BC Parks with our concerns on the gate at Gwillim Lake and the restrictions to the boat launch it puts on residents in the areas for recreation; and that Staff look into costs of a moving gate at Lions Club Campground to provide access to a camp kitchen and picnic area. Wall suggests bringing in BC Parks to have the discussion around Gwillim.


Councillor Kirby wants staff to investigate a summer playground program. This is something other communities do. “We have some great programs, and I’m just looking for ways to enhance that.” She says this sort of program would enhance the community. She suggests running it from noon to 5 pm during weekdays and have it free to the public, though younger children would have to be accompanied by a parent. “I’m interested in looking into finding grants to run this sort of program,” she says. She recommends that Council asks staff to investigate this option. Councillor Howe says Tumbler Ridge used to have a program called Sun Fun, which was more a child care program. Kirby says she’s not sure she just wants it to be child care. Councillor Krakowka says it’s a great idea. He’s seen these sort of programs elsewhere. Councillor Scott says there are a lot of programs out there already; she’s worried that this would step on these toes. Council moves that staff investigate this option


Councillor Kirby says Tumbler Ridge has hosted the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team, and the town has the opportunity to promote sports camps. She recommends that staff investigate setting up options for future sports programming: sports camps, clinics, and recreation in and around Tumbler Ridge. “This is something I’m passionate about, and I think we’re missing the boat on this,” she says. Councillor Howe says this particular thing was discussed during strategic planning and it wasn’t in the top priorities, so he doesn’t think this should be discussed at this time. Councillor Kirby says that when they finished the strategic planning session, the CAO asked the individual Councillors what their priorities were. “This is mine,” she says. Councillor Mackay says he thinks it’s a good idea, as kids from Tumbler Ridge are going down to the Okanagan for these types of camps. Councillor Caisley says Council and staff should focus on the priorities identified during the strategic planning. Councillor Scott says this is a great idea, but it doesn’t fall on Council’s shoulders. It’s something minor hockey should be working on, or the hotels. Councillor Howe says it’s something that the District doesn’t need to be involved in. Motion defeated.


Councillor Scott says there are residential lots that border green belts and unused district property. There has been public interest in expanding lots into these areas. She moves that expansion of lot sizes be researched and options brought to Council, as it comes from “Council Strategic Planning Priority Meeting 2016” Future Expansion. Councillor Howe asks if that means each person would have to come before Council. Wall says no, Council would have to identify areas that they would be willing to sell. Howe says this could  get messy. “Is this the first step towards researching?” Wall says yes.


Currently, Tumbler Ridge does not have any parcels of land for purchase for people outside the town limits. There have been people who have moved from Tumbler Ridge because they wanted a ranch, or hobby farm. Councillor Scott says Urban Systems has met with administration and is reporting back on acreage options. She proposes that Council support this as a Future Expansion priority from the ‘Council Strategic Planning Priority Meeting 2016’ and bring Council options for the establishment of rural acreages for purchase.


There has been some concern by Council on how to move forward with the Golf Course. Last season, the District incurred about $150,000 worth of losses operating the Golf Course. Councillor Howe says the way it was set out last year was a profit sharing agreement. He says he wants to see it move to strictly a lease. “That keeps our hands out of it,” he says. “That way we don’t have to go down there and count hot dogs.”

Councillor Krakowka asks if Councillor Howe is proposing the whole golf course be leased out, or just the pro shop, because the losses mentioned included the running of the whole golf course, while Screamin’ Eagle just looked after the pro shop and restaurant. “We paid all the labour to cut grass, for the fertilizer. I’d be interested in seeing where the loss was: was it on the course itself or the restaurant?”

Wall counsels Council to tread lightly around this conversation, as there are issues that might affect negotiations, and might be better saved for a closed meeting.