Gold River Village Council - March 4, 2019
Present at the regular council meeting were Mayor Brad Unger, Councillors Brenda Patrick, Rachel Stratton, Kirsty Begon and Joe Sinclair. Village Administrator, Larry Plourde was also present. There were twelve members of the public, and the press, in the gallery.Open Session is an opportunity for the public to ask questions of council.
The press asked if there was any truth to the rumour that Grieg Seafoods was no longer bringing fish across the municipal dock. The mayor confirmed that they are currently without a contract and that Grieg is not using our wharf at the moment. This could present a problem for our new council as they go in to budget talks. Historically, Grieg Seafoods has contributed quite a large slice of the revenue generated at the wharf.
Terry Robertson asked whether the ‘hatchery presentation’ that had been on the agenda a month ago, then tabled, had ever taken place. The Mayor confirmed that council had met with Mr Frame regarding the proposal, and had made a motion to work with the Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation if they wanted to partner on the project. He went on to say the village was willing to look into a grant to do a feasibility study, however, the MMFN had indicated they were not interested at this time, and the idea is on hold.
The new RCMP Detachment Commander was on hand with a report on crime stats in the Nootka Sound area. Sgt. Josh Wiese, who has been in Gold River since last summer, provided a handout with graphs comparing cases with previous years. He explained that the detachment is responsible for all of the Nootka Sound area including Gold River, Tsaxana and Tahsis. Stats in Gold River are generally good. Property crime is one of our biggest issues. That being said there were no files in January, no files in February. “Then we had one in March, it was a massive increase,” he joked. He said it is a big change for him, coming from a large area. For example, Campbell River probably has over 10,000 files in the same 2 month period.
Our local RCMP do a lot of proactive work in the community. ‘Crime prevention through social development’ sees them going in to schools, connecting with the youth and helping bring in productions like “Love Bomb”, a live production about human trafficking which took place last month. They have also done fraud workshops at the seniors centre. He went on to say they are a little short handed at the moment, but are expecting two new constables, one in early May, the other by late August.
The Mayor asked what the community’s most pressing issues are from an RCMP standpoint and without hesitation he said Mental Health Issues. This is a big concern for the community as a whole and takes up a lot of resources, not just the RCMP. It is also taxing for our clinic staff. The only mental health workers are part time out of Campbell River, and many of the people who need these resources do not have transportation. He went on to say that focus in the coming months will probably be on traffic safety. He also mentioned the detachment’s plans to move ahead with their own building. The federal government has purchased land behind the ambulance station in a move, he said, that will hopefully see shovels in the ground by the end of summer.
Following the presentation though, council was asked about the lease the RCMP currently have with the village. Administrator Plourde explained that the RCMP entered into a new five year lease just last summer. He went on to explain that prior to the land purchase the village had explained on more than one occasion that there were issues with the property. It is not currently zoned for what they want to do, and it is in a development permit area. According to the administrator their position on this was ‘these rules don’t apply to us’.
With no further questions from the public, council moved into the regular meeting and minutes from the Regular Council Meeting held February 19 were approved.
There were eleven Reports on the agenda tonight. The first was from the Administrator regarding Cell Tower Siting Options. Telus is willing to put us on the list for a tower this year, if that is what the community wants. However, the location has been shortlisted to two options; the site of Telus’ current tower on Trumpeter Drive, or on a site behind the Aquatic Centre that belongs to the Village.
Doug Anostos from Telus was in the gallery and spoke to some of the questions that council had. He explained that this go around Tahsis is also on the list for a tower, but coverage in Gold River would probably not reach Tsaxana at this time due to terrain issues. People are beginning to realize, though that we have to start somewhere. There were a number of concerns regarding the pool site. It is lower than the downtown area and a tower would probably have to be 5 - 10 metres higher (40m vs 30m at the Trumpeter Drive site). There were concerns over liability issues if it was located on Village owned property, and with the eventual inclusion of internet options once broadband comes in, unfair advantage for competition claims may arise. With all of these possible issues getting in the way, council eventually passed a motion to move ahead to a public hearing with only the Telus site on Trumpeter as a possible location.
The next report was an annual requirement for users of the Jack Christensen Centre. The policy adopted in 2013 establishes guidelines for rental space at the JCC and includes specific requirements from community service / non-profit groups requesting space. The following groups were granted use under these guidelines: GR Restorative Justice Society, GR Museum & Archives Society, GR Food Bank, GR Lions Club, & GR Junior Rangers. Staff had a request to move ahead with the purchase of a new photocopier for the Village Office. The $12k item is currently in the five year plan for 2019, however as this years budget has not yet gone through, staff thought it prudent to get the go ahead first. Council had no issues with the request. It was due to be done and the the quality of the current agenda was a perfect example of how bad the need is.
Local landowners Bill & Tracey Jennings had requested a burn permit to take care of some stumps and debris created when they cleared their land. The village has a process, and there are many rules that have to be adhered to, including the need for the Fire Chiefs approval, before and during the event. Despite this, Councillor Patrick felt it necessary to once again, try and tell staff and the fire chief, how to do their jobs. After a few minutes of this Councillor Sinclair finally jumped in and made a motion to approve the request, subject to the conditions outlined in the report. This, fortunately, passed with no further discussion.
Mayor Unger and all four Councillors submitted reports on their experiences at the 2019 Elected Officials Seminar that took place February 13-15. Anyone wishing to read these can find them attached to the agenda on the village website, at the village office or in the Public Library.
Councillor Patrick also submitted a report on her attendance at the Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting held Feb 21st. This was the first meeting for the newly elected executive. Topics covered included:
• Tourism - a stronger presence online, possible electric bikes for use in community
• Economic Development - provide input with regards to training summer students at the info centre, distribute a questionnaire to identify services their membership provides and how the GRCC can assist them.
• The ‘Boot’ at the Info Centre - identify what information should be on a plaque explaining the boot.
• Gold River Days - GRCC will host the soap box derby again, they need members to help organize the parade, need to find out if atv’s can participate in the parade.
There was a separate sheet outlining ideas for tourism from Councillor Patrick that included: caving helmets and lights for visitors to borrow from the info centre; bicycles, possibly electric bikes, that could be rented out by tourists to get around town; ATV routes within village boundaries; more youtube videos promoting the area; and off season events in our recreational facilities, such as carpet bowling etc. The Mayor asked her to price up any items that were being considered and to bring ideas to the budget meeting scheduled for next week.
The last report came from Councillor Stratton on the status of the Economic Development Committee. They met three times in February. Some of the items under discussion include: students working at the Info Centre - better training and continuity throughout the community; ways to promote our trail assets; other ideas in the works include an information kiosk in the downtown area, wifi hot spots, community event calendars and rebranding of the community as a whole. They are also working with the owners of the Village Square Plaza to remove the planters and, with the aid of volunteers, do a general cleanup and possibly some painting. She concluded her report by saying they are a ‘very enthusiastic group with lots of energy and ideas!’.
Under Council Information Items it was reported that VIU, Master of Community Planning student Sarah Holden, will be hosting an open house Thursday, March 7 from 6:30 - 8pm at the Village Office for a review of the Official Community Plan Development Permit Area (our downtown core). All members of the public are welcome to attend.
There were two items of correspondence - both were forwarded on.
- A letter regarding safe needle disposal options was sent on to the clinic
- A letter from the Merville Water Guardians regarding protection of groundwater from bulk carriers was forwarded to AVICC (the Association of Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities).
We then moved into Question Period. This is an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions about items that came up on the agenda.
Patti Linde asked about the atv access which prompted discussion, but no real answers. The press asked that the village post whatever regulations they find on the village website so that everyone could be aware of what they are.
The press also asked about a village facebook page that had been referenced a few times, and was told the village now has a presence on Facebook under the name ‘Heber Gold’.
Terry Robertson asked about the RCMP contract and the Administrator advised that they had entered into a new five year lease with the village last summer (2018).
Mr Robertson also asked who ‘Castle Rock Developments’ were as they were shown as the adjacent property owners next to the proposed cell tower site at the Aquatic Centre. The Mayor and the Administrator went on to explain that a number of parcels of land around the community, including the Peppercorn Trail, the lot between deep hole and the high school, the lot surrounding the Mobile Home Park and a number of ribbons of land along roadways and around the edge of the community, that had previously belonged to Western Forest Products, had been sold off to a private developer some time ago, without the village’s knowledge. The village found out some time after the fact and were justifiably quite upset with WFP for not giving the Municipality first option at these properties.
Linda Vandenburg asked for clarification on the decision regarding the cell tower and was advised that council/Telus will proceed with a public meeting that only allows the Trumpeter Drive site as a possible location.
With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.
The next Council Meeting will take place Monday, March 18 at 7pm