Gold River Village Council - November 5, 2018
Present at the regular council meeting were Mayor Brad Unger, Councillors Brenda Patrick, Rachel Stratton, Kirsty Begon, and Joe Sinclair. Deputy Corporate Officer Maxine McLean was also present. There were 14 members of the public, and the press, in the gallery.
Prior to the start of tonights meeting we had the swearing in ceremony for the Newly Elected Mayor and Council. There was the official photo and each member of council read the oath of office.
This is the public’s opportunity to ask questions of council. There was one concern regarding Hydro - it was asked if they could be more explicit about when/where power is going to be shut down. There were a number of issues last Friday went the schedule they had provided seemed to go out the window. The Fire Chief stated it had been an issue for them as they have equipment that is affected when the power goes out.
With no further questions the meeting was called to order and the agenda was approved.
Minutes from the Special Council Meeting held Oct 24th were received. The meeting had been convened to adopt the minutes from the last Regular Council meeting.
There were nine reports on the agenda tonight.
The first concerned the official counts for the vote. Incumbent Brad Unger retained his seat as mayor with 67% of the vote. Rachel Stratton(501) and Kirsty Begon(470) had a clear lead over the other five candidates who were all separated by less than 35 votes. Brenda Patrick(287) and Joe Sinclair(277) picked up the last two seats. 30% of the votes this year, were cast in the advance poll.
Council Appointments for 2018-2019:
Strathcona Regional District Director - Mayor Unger Alt - Councillor Begon
Vancouver Island Regional Library Director - Councillor Patrick Alt - Councillor Begon
Island Coastal Economic Trust Mayor Unger
These positions are approved by council through resolution. The following appointments were also made at the Mayor’s discretion.
Liaison to Village Portfolios:
Economic Development Mayor Unger alt - Councillor Stratton
Tourism Councillor Patrick alt - Councillor Begon
Parks & Recreation Councillor Begon alt - Councillor Stratton
Public Works Councillor Sinclair alt - Councillor Begon
Protective Services Mayor Unger alt - Councillor Stratton
Wharf Councillor Sinclair alt - Mayor Unger
Liaison to other Organizations
Chamber of Commerce Councillor Patrick alt - Councillor Stratton
First Nations Mayor Unger
Fisheries / Watershed Councillor Sinclair alt - Councillor Patrick
Restorative Justice Councillor Begon alt - Councillor Stratton
Broom Busters Councillor Begon all
The third report concerned the Guide for Municipal Council Members. Staff is currently in the process of updating the Council Orientation Manual and should have it ready prior to the next council meeting. Two key documents that are referred to regularly are the Conflict of Interest and the In Camera restrictions and requirements. The Community Charter outlines for Council ‘Conflict of Interest Guidelines’ and specific rational for any meeting Council chooses to move ‘In Camera’. Staff stressed how important it was for Council to be familiar with both of these sections as they are consistently raised during Council’s term.
A “Guide for Municipal Council Members” was provided to each council member.
As the ‘Councillor Academy’ training for new council members does not take place until mid February. Council will also take part in a 4 hour workshop sometime in the next two weeks, to go over some of the more important subjects.
The 3rd Quarter Financial Report was received. It included 2018 Major Projects update. Total estimated costs on these projects is $316,000 with the biggest ticket item being the waterline at the Gold River bridge. To date it has cost $25k for the bypass pipeline & $30k for the engineering plan to replace the line. A final solution has yet to be decided. Other items include maintenance to sewer/water lines and pumps, and some road and curb repairs. A major chemical test on water at all three of the Village’s wells is scheduled for the fall. The Mayor confirmed that the village is on budget at this point. There was a Capital Status report that outlined Capital Projects the village is working on. These include new rescue equipment for the Fire Department ($50k) and the pavilion at Nimpkish Park ($65k - project on hold). The Sewer Project, budgeted for $1.2 million is on hold pending a second grant application that will go forward in the new year. The report also included the 2018 Corporate Strategy Update on Goals and Objectives. The new council will be reviewing this in the coming weeks, to familiarize themselves with ongoing items, and to be prepared for budget sessions in the new year.
Council approved the Payment of Accounts for September.
Fire Chief, Lisa Illes submitted a 3rd Quarter Report for the Fire Department. New members are recruited in September to make training easier. The volunteer department currently has 23 members; 10 Live Fire trained firefighters, 6 firefighters, 2 First Responders, 1 Dispatcher and 6 rookies. The department was kept busy this summer with 6 fire calls, 9 first responder/BCEHS assists, and 1 motor vehicle accident between July and September. The Fire Chief also attended a training workshop on attending callouts where an autistic person may reside. She is now training people in our own department as well as the RCMP, BCEHS and other Fire Departments in the region. The Fire Department also turned out for a number of public relation events over the summer. Volunteers will be attending a number of workshops and training events in the coming months that include live fire training, survival techniques and rescue training, as well as auto extrication, forcible entry and gas and hydro safety.
Councillor Patrick questioned the Chief on a request to run equipment out along the highway once a month, as a way to help burn off emissions. The chief explained that this is a big issue in small places that don’t have a reason to run their equipment more than a few kilometres at a time. Twice this year they have had problems, but the truck is still under warranty and they contacted Inland Kenworth. They were advised by their mechanics to take it for a decent drive once a month as a preventative maintenance measure. The Chief went on to explain that they would only take one vehicle at a time, and that the community would not be left unprotected. Councillor Patrick advised the Chief of other steps they could take and was told those options had already been considered, mechanics at Kenworth had recommended this course of action. Council eventually approved the request.
The Parks & Recreation/Public Works & the Aquatic/Utility Supervisors both had quarterly reports on the agenda. Both outlined maintenance projects etc that have been taking place over the summer. The recreation report included stats on the Summer Fun program and stats from the Tourist Information Centre. Summer Fun ran for six weeks and averaged about 10 youth per session. Although the village received a grant to offset some of the expenses involved, the program still cost taxpayers over $1600 to run. The Info Centre also received some grant funding. Service Canada’s Summer Job Grant covered $6.33 per hour per student for a total of $3,038. Destination BC also provided $10,000 to operate the centre this summer. The centre logged more than 2,700 visitors between May and September.
Councillor Sinclair asked about the status of the hole that is still covered with a board at the bottom of Muchalat Drive, near the pull off for the Peppercorn Trail, as it’s status on the report was ‘done’. Mayor Unger said he would have staff clarify for the next meeting.
Councillor Patrick had asked for information on two grants that have recently been announced - Rural & Northern Communities Fund and Community, Culture & Recreation Fund. Although the information had been provided to the previous council, the Mayor explained the deadline wasn’t until January, and asked for any ideas the new council members would like to bring forward. He also explained that the application process can be time consuming and depending on the project, may require expertise from outside engineers. Councillor Patrick said she would like to see a seismic upgrade done on the Jack Christiensen Centre, however the Deputy Corporate Officer explained that a previous report on the building had indicated this was not feasible.
Council Information Items
Mayor Unger advised that a new Bylaw Officer has been hired. There was a mail out to the community advising that Municipal Ticketing was about to become a reality.
Councillor Begon reminded everyone of the $10,000 tourism grant that the village received earlier this year. She reported that Vancouver Island University students, who had been given the task of gathering information from the community this summer, gave the public an opportunity to view their Tourism Presentation. Thirteen residents turned out to see what they had put together. There were posters and displays highlighting what they had learned. They will be bringing the presentation forward to Council in the near future.
Councillor Sinclair asked for more information on how we could go about acquiring land outside the municipality. Our village boundaries are small and access to acreage would be a huge asset to the community. Staff was asked to bring forward information explaining what was involved.
Councillor Sinclair also asked if Council could revisit the bylaw restricting backyard fires. He felt that adequate restrictions could be in place and that it would be a ‘nice thing to have’. DCO McLean said she would have staff bring forward previous reports on the issue.
Mayor Unger reported that he and the Administrator had met with Doug Anastos to discuss some funding opportunities that are coming available through Telus regarding cell service.
He also met with Doug Meske, Western Forest Products Ltd, who said his company, one of the largest employers in Gold River, is struggling to find workers. They presently have 8-10 jobs available, but can’t find people to work. He also advised that Gold River Bridge #1, the main bridge on Muchalat Drive at the Gold River, had been downgraded and could only support 75% of its previous capacity. This is a problem for the logging company who move equipment across this bridge on a regular basis.
Both Mayor Unger and Councillor Begon reported they had had an opportunity to go out to Tsaxana to view the ‘Fighting for Justice’ presentation put on by the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University and sponsored by the Land of Maquinna Cultural Society. They both said they had enjoyed the presentation and were a little upset it could not have been available longer, as a number of people missed the chance to see it. Some of the panels, those specific to Nootka Sound, are being retained by the MMFN and will be available for viewing at a future date.
The Mayor also had an opportunity to meet with Shawn Greenway, the new owner of the Parkview Apartments (formerly the Gold Crest Apartments). He reported that they plan to continue renovating blocks 4, 6 & 7, but will probably be tearing down the remaining units. There is no hard plan in place as to what they will do with the space after that.
Mayor Unger touched briefly on the Tourism Presentation. He advised that at the last Regional District meeting they had invited Destination Campbell River to meet with them. He went on to say there are so many different Tourism Organizations out there now, its hard to keep up with them all. The best opportunity we have as a community / region, is to share with the RD and maximize our value.
The Mayor also thanked the Fire Chief for the great demonstration that the Department put on a few weekends ago. It showcased the new equipment the department purchased this year, and gave new recruits a chance to practice in a real life situation. He went on to touch on a subject that has been an issue for small communities for decades, and was discussed, again, at UBCM this past September. Most of the calls that First Responders attend are on the highway - outside of our municipality. Yet our community bears the costs involved in most cases, the same as every other rural community in BC. Chief Illes thanked the Mayor and Councillor Begon for coming out to watch the demonstration.
There were three items tonight.
Lana Owens sent a letter congratulating council and proposing monthly meet and greets, where councillors could take turns meeting with the public and discussing current events in the municipality. She said one of the biggest complaints she had heard during the election was about transparency and ‘no knowledge of what council members actually do. Mayor Unger replied by stating he felt council is very open and transparent. He said he, and he felt all council, were available to the public, that they were approachable and always willing to answer questions. He also explained that meeting with councillors one on one first of all, was opening them up to negative feedback as well as positive, not a position everyone wants to be in. It also means you are only getting one persons opinion, not that of council. He went on to explain that council is a team, and the public is always welcome to come and ask questions. Councillor Patrick explained that she is already very busy with ESS (Emergency Social Services) and expects her council duties to take up most of her spare time. She also said she was available to answer questions any time. Councillor Sinclair repeated that also, saying his door is always open.
Council received a Certificate of Appreciation for their continued support of the ‘Military Service Recognition Book’ of the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Sharon Charette sent a letter asking to sit on the Economic Development Committee. The committee was short a member following the resignation of Keith Broad. As they had only received four applications in the initial call for volunteers, council felt no need to re-advertise the position and agreed to Mrs Charette joining.
The press asked for confirmation that Question Period was still confined to items on the agenda following a comment from the Mayor. He confirmed that was the case but advised members of the public that Open Session at the beginning of each council meeting was open to questions concerning anything the public wished to bring forward.
The press then asked if the reason that WFP was struggling to find workers had anything to do with the lack of housing. The Mayor stated he did not think that was the issue, Mr Meske indicated there was just a shortage of available workers.
She also asked that if council was going to reconsider back yard fires could they also bring forward whatever reports have been done on air quality within the village. Previous councils have struggled with the number of woodstoves in the community, as smoke tends to get trapped in the valley causing air quality issues that can be detrimental to seniors and residents with breathing issues. There are also the obvious concerns surrounding wildfire issues.
There was a comment from another member of the public, who claimed to be a mechanic, regarding the fire trucks. He said they are big vehicles and need to move, running them periodically would definitely be justified in the long run.
With no further business to discuss, Council moved to adjourn in camera pursuant to the Community Charter section 90(1)(c) labour relations or other employee relations.
The next council meeting will take place Monday, November 19th at 7pm.