Town Hall Meeting

On May 29th Mayor Mike Caisley, Councillors Brenda Holmlund, Pernell Kirby, Brian Sipe, Larry White, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Lonny Miller and staff hosted a Town Hall meeting for Tumbler Ridge residents at the Community Centre. Also attending was Corporate Officer/Deputy CAO Kim Isaac, Director of Community Services Cheryl Hayden, Manager of Public Works Clark Hazlehurst, Economic Development Officer Ray Proulx, and Fire Chief/Bylaw Officer Dan Golob.

In his opening comments, Mayor Caisley thanked everyone for participating and introduced Council members and CAO Lonny Miller. Prior to going over the accomplishments of the year, Mayor Caisley mentioned that Council and staff were very pleased with the budget review. A copy of the budget review was printed on the backside of the agendas that were available to everyone attending.

Mayor Caisley gave a brief description of some of the accomplishments that Council and staff have achieved for the past year. They were:

-The Districct is working together with the Museum Foundation towards building a sustainable museum.

-Affordable housing units for Hospice and Palliative care

-2006 Annual Financial report

-The finalization of the zoning bylaw

-A wildfire protection committee

-Community Centre upgrades

Agreement in place with the Days Inn that will see the development of a $10 million dollar facility which will have 102 rooms, a conference centre which will accommodate 300 people, and a restaurant and pub.

-Strategic planning updated

-Development procedures of 2007 and 2006 completed

Mayor Caisley closed by saying that Council and staff were very proud of the way things are going.

Councillor Larry White mentioned several projects that he was involved in; Community Forests, BC Housing, and phase two of the Family Skate Park. White added that when he attended the UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) the idea of a single business licence was discussed with the Administration of Small Businesses and Revenue. White is hoping the plan will make it easier for businesses to operate across municipal boundaries. White said that he would be available for discussion after the meeting for anyone interested in the projects that he is working on.

Councillor Brian Sipe?s speech touched on three areas that he is involved in which are: bylaws, town planning, and oil & gas activity. Sipe said that the Building & Plumbing bylaw #522 is currently being worked on. This will be in place by the end of June. Finavera is in the environmental assessment process. There is seismic activity that Veritas is working on at the Sukunka and Hourglass roads. Sipe said that he and Councillor White are making sure that all trails have been identified for the oil & gas companies, and that nothing on the trails will be put in jeopardy.

Councillor Kirby informed residents that he is involved with the Co-op Housing Project, Community Forests, and the Wildfire Task Force. He informed residents that hundreds of trees are infested with the Pine Beetle throughout the community and that a contractor has been hired to clear them. The Ministry of Forests are expecting a big flight of the Pine Beetle within the next year or two. 95% of the Pine Beetle was killed last winter. Kirby said that in addition to the removal of the infected trees, Verbenone will be placed on trees again this year. Kirby concluded that while he attended the NCMA (North Central Municipal Association), he was told by officials there that Tumbler Ridge is one of the windiest communities in the world.

Councillor Holmlund said that the last year has been a very busy one for Council and staff. The six month governance model that George Cuff initiated is well underway. The model consists of two regular Council meetings, two Policies & Priorities Committee meetings, and an Adgenda Committee.

The Museum Foundation and Council have agreed to work together with Aldrich Pears to move on to the next step of applying for funding for a business plan.

Some of the future projects that Holmlund informed residents of were the Revitalization Tax Exemption (which will be completed by October of 2007), the New Governance Model, the Coal Forum, Downtown Beautification project, and the Building and Plumbing bylaw #522.

Holmlund said that the four main objectives that Council wants to accomplish were: to put Tumbler Ridge on the map, to diversify, to develop supporting structure, and to maintain & improve lifestyle.

Holmlund closed by thanking the District employees for their hard work in areas of garbage, sewer, bylaw enforcement, fire evacuation, snow removal, and Community Centre activities. A special thank you went to Town Hall staff for working very hard for Council and the community.

CAO Lonny Miller followed introducing District and Town Hall staff. Echoing the comments of Mayor and Council, he touched on some of the projects, accomplishments, and resolutions of the last year such as phase two of the skate park, the zoning bylaw, and the Pine Beetle.

Miller said that notices will be placed in the local newspaper informing residents that Joe Tummonds is to be recognized as an authorized bylaw officer of Tumbler Ridge who will begin writing letters for unsightly premises.

CAO Lonny Miller followed introducing District and Town Hall staff. Echoing the comments of Mayor and Council, he touched on some of the projects, accomplishments, and resolutions of the last year such as phase two of the skate park, the zoning bylaw, and the Pine Beetle.

Miller said that notices will be placed in the local newspaper informing residents that Joe Tummonds is to be recognized as an authorized bylaw officer of Tumbler Ridge who will begin writing letters for unsightly premises.

Up to June of this year, 72 building permits have been issued along with two commercial permits for the Days Inn and Twilight Lodge. Miller said that this will mean more tax dollars for the community with the rise in population.

In the 2007 budget highlights, there was an increase of a 20% total tax base for the District that went into increased service levels, infrastructure repair and upgrades, bylaw enforcement, beautification, snow removal, RV park, rod and street repairs, and recycling.

With the property tax increases for home owners, Miller maintained that the school district?s tax rate went up which applied approx $200 per house, and the Policing Tax finally went into effect this year which in the past was not included in property taxes. This was a decision of the government and not the District. ?The District is not even paying the policing costs that some communities are?, he added., ?The fact that we have a population of under 500,000 allows the residents of this community to pay less.?

After the Occupational Health and Safety audit, Miller said that the District came out with an excellent safety record which will result in a 30% discount in WCB rates.

Staff numbers in 1996 for the District were at 107 employees. Currently, the staff numbers are only 56. Miller said that since the community is growing, the staff have been pushing overtime to 1200 hours.

So far, the District has had no students to work for the summer months. Miller said that the positions are open to the public. Duties would be grass cutting, landscaping, etc. Applications can be submitted to Town Hall.

Miller closed by thanking the community and Council for their continued support and staff for a job well done.

Shortly after staff and Council reports, several residents began question and answer period by addressing numerous concerns.

Lynn Way, long-time resident of Tumbler Ridge, requested clarification about who owns the gardens in the downtown core. Miller said that students (hired by the District) maintain the flower beds every year but legally, the District does not own them yet. Way then inquired about the fire break around town to see if it was going to be wide enough. She was told that there were no plans for a fire break this year. She commented that in light of last summer?s fire evacuation, a fire break should be a top priority for Council and staff. Miller asked Way if she would sit on a Committee dedicated to protecting the community with a fire break. Way readily accepted the offer.

Bill Hendlay inquired about the procedures that a resident must go through should they not agree with an order from the bylaw officer. Miller said that all complaints or inquiries must go through him first and it would be addressed to Council if need be.

Another resident requested that the bylaw officer Joe Tummonds be ?gentle? with the out-of-town guests visiting the community during the upcoming tourist season. The concern was to not drive the tourists away by harsh bylaw enforcement. Miller said that, as a first warning, it is the bylaw officers? duty to only identify and inform out-of-town visitors of the bylaws if they happen to infringe upon them.

Kevin Sharman, another long-time resident of Tumbler Ridge, asked Miller if there was any progress on the race track. A $10,000 grant was given to the District in 2005 to help in the construction of the track. Sharman said, ?To get a project done you have to set your priorities, allocate resources, and most importantly, honor your commitments to your stakeholders. That?s what I see hasn?t happened here.? I am referring to the running track project.

Miller said that at the next Policies & Priorities Committee meeting, the Wolverine Nordic Mountain Society will be submitting a letter to Council to discuss taking over the project as volunteers. From there, Council will be making a decision and the grant funds will be allocated once construction has begun.

as volunteers. From there, Council will be making a decision and the grant funds will be allocated once construction has begun.

Bill Hendlay asked Council about the possibility of a No-Go Zone. (Areas within a community that are forbidden or limited to oil & gas projects) Councillor White said that members of the Oil & Gas Commission told the District that they have no authority to have a No-Go Zone. White added that he and Councillor Sipe will endeavour to submit for a No-Go Zone for the community. If it passes, Tumbler Ridge will be the first community within the province to have this type of procedure in place.

Janet Delpierre, COPS (Citizens on Patrol), said that she would like Council to make a decision on the speed limits on residential streets in town and to post signage. She said that it is increasingly difficult with the population growing for the members of COPS to do speed watch. Miller said that he would make it a top priority. Deliperre added that she wanted to be certain that this will happen because she and other members of COPS have been asking for signage for two years and nothing has been done. Miller assured her that it will be done as soon as possible.

Bill Hendlay asked Mayor Caisley the question, ?When is a Councillor not a Councillor?? Mayor Caisley asked Hendlay to clarify. He said that he wanted to know if it was against the bylaw for a Councillor to post their personal views in the local newspaper. Mayor Caisley said that all of Council may post their views in the paper as long as they do not say in the letter or article that their view is supported by other Council members. He said that it must be a personal opinion and should not reflect the opinion of the other members of Council.

Councillor Kirby was asked if he has any news about getting a dentist for Tumbler Ridge. Kirby said that when he attended the NCMA, officials told him that it will not happen (municipal support) because it is a private business.

Another question was asked by Harry Prosser, owner of Two Horse Logging, if the RV Park will be open in the winter months. Miller said that part of the park will be open as it was last winter. He also added that there is a need for a new washroom facility.

Lori Homister complained that $400 in damages were done to her flower beds and lawn this year due to the heavy gravel and sand as a result of the heavy snowfalls this winter. She said that every year, she has to incur a cost for fixing this. Miller said that there are procedures for snow removal and that the snow removal is being followed by the proper procedures and there is not much more that can be done. He invited her to Town Hall to go over the snow removal policy. He said that if she would like to see a higher standard of service, then the town could expect property costs to go up.

One resident praised Public Works on a job well done for snow removal. She did add, though, that the meridian coming out of Peace River Crescent was useless and should be removed. Miller said that it will be looked into.

Another resident informed Council and staff that three large semi-tractor units have been sighted driving on Willow. He said that there should be signs that state ?No through route?, so that truck drivers will know not to drive on residential streets.

One person made the comment that there are fewer services in Tumbler Ridge in 2007 than there were in 2000 when the town was much less populated. Lynn Way added that Wayne Kopec (owner of Glacial Refrigeration), is leaving Tumbler Ridge to move to Alberta.

A frustrated resident said that he has been waiting months for final approval on a garage and deck on his property. Miller said that someone will contact him as soon as possible to set up an appointment for the approval. The gentleman responded saying that he needed at least 24 hours notice.

The subject of School District (SD) #59 was brought up when a resident wanted to know what is happening with the Claude Galebois School. Mayor Caisley responded that Council told SD#59 that they were interested in purchasing it at a board meeting earlier this month. A suggestion was made from the floor that it should remain a school in the event that it is needed with an expanding population.

Kevin Sharman asked about the Flatbed Falls area and the use of ATV?s there. He said that it is an eyesore for tourists to see garbage lying around. Miller said that the situation will be looked into.

Mayor Caisley closed saying that Council and staff will endeavour to address the concerns made at the meeting. The priorities that have been listed will be noted. He added that any priority can be placed before an