Gold River Village Council - April 1, 2019
Suzanne Trevis: Please note these are not the official minutes of the meeting.
Present at the regular council meeting were Mayor Brad Unger, Councillors Brenda Patrick, Kirsty Begon and Joe Sinclair. Councillor Rachel Stratton was absent. Village Administrator, Larry Plourde was also present. There were seven members of the public, and the press, in the gallery.
There were no questions from the public this week.
Two late items were added to the agenda and minutes from the Regular Council Meeting held March 18 were adopted. There were eight reports tonight.
The first from Utilities Supervisor, Michael Lott, was regarding the Disposition of the Wells at the Municipal Campground. An inspection report from Island Health Environmental Health in 2011 had indicated significant repairs were needed, not just to the pumps, but to procedures regarding testing of the water etc. Council of the day had temporarily deactivated the pumps. Island Health is now following up and saying if they are not being used, they need to be properly decommissioned. Council considered what would be required to continue providing potable water at the site and the $20,000+ it would cost is not at all feasible considering what the campground brings in. They chose to permanently decommission both wells.
The second report was from Ken Smith. Ken has been managing the Municipal Campground on a contract basis since 2011. His report showed that the number of visitors to the campground has continued to rise each year. Guests in 2014 totalled 499, by 2018 that number was up to 848! Everyone agreed he has been doing a good job and his application for the current term was renewed for another two years.
Deputy Treasurer, Maxine McLean had submitted Payment of Accounts for February, however, there seemed to be a computer glitch and a number of items showing dates were listed with 2018 instead of 2019. The Administrator apologized to council for the oversight and said he would look into it.
Councillor Patrick submitted a report on the Library Board Meeting she attended in March. Regionally VIRL has been hosting Indigenous Elders as part of their Indigenous Voices Program. We have been fortunate to be part of that program here in Gold River. They have also agreed to waive fines on children’s books. The annual ‘Our Teen Voices’ creative writing contest is currently underway. Teens are asked to write about teen issues and submissions will be accepted up to April 30, 2019. As well as cash prizes, finalists will have their work published. There was also some discussion regarding the rising costs associated with building and maintenance on buildings within the VIRL system. Current bids on a new library in Sayward have come in at double the anticipated budget.
Councillor Patrick also reported on the Chamber of Commerce executive committee meeting held March 21st. They discussed a training programme for students working at the info centre in the summer, and others who work in a front line capacity with tourists. We want our hosts to be knowledgeable about local attractions, businesses within Nootka Sound, and history of the area. The goal of those involved is to create a formal Tourist Information Host Training Guide.
The next report was actually the minutes of the Economic Development Committee meeting held March 11. One initiative of the group has been to commission ‘Community Calendar whiteboards’, which will be on display in the old SuperValu store windows. The community will be able to forward notices of events to a dedicated email that will be posted on the calendar, or at a dedicated drop off point, yet to be determined. The group hopes to have them in place soon. Cost estimates for an information kiosk & tree removal on the strip of land between Larch Place and the Village Square parking lot will be presented in the near future. The EDC is talking to the Rangers to see if they are interested in twinning their ‘Town Cleanup’ event with the removal of the planters in the Village Square. There was discussion at this point about whether the village’s ‘Unsightly Premises’ bylaw could be utilized in some way, noting the plaza has been ‘a challenge to Tourism and Economic Development for the Village’. It was eventually determined that this option might not be applicable. They also discussed updates to the Tourism Information Booth Training previously mentioned. Trainees should be well informed and have first hand knowledge of the Uchuck, trails and the Upana Caves. They also saw this as a good opportunity to engage with the Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation. They went on to discuss the need for an updated Village website, affordable housing solutions and issues with CMHC funding.
Both the 4th Quarter Financial Report for 2018, and the 2019-2023 Financial Plan/Budget included a lot of detailed financial information with regards to the running of the village. Anyone interested in the details can access the information at the Village Office. Additionally, the village will be hosting a public presentation of the five year Financial Plan 2019-2023 in Council Chambers on Wednesday, April 24 at 7pm.
Council passed first reading of the 2019 Financial Plan Bylaw No. 715, 2019. They also adopted three bylaws addressing Garbage, Water & Sewer amendments for 2019.
Seven items of correspondence were received.
• Rural Dividend Funding of $29,140 was awarded to the village for the ‘Village Commercial Sector Development’ project. This project encompasses 4 or 5 items from the Ec Dev committee ‘wish list’, including public wifi.
• The trail committee was requesting additional funding for signage and a brochure holder to be placed at the Tourist Info Centre. Council had originally okayed up to $1,000, but the quote was now coming in at over $3,000. Councillor Patrick asked whether there was a less expensive option. After some discussion council agreed to pass the request on to the Ec Dev committee to investigate further and possibly supply funding out of grant money that was just received.
• MLA, Claire Trevena forwarded copies of two letters written to the Ministers of Finance and Public Safety in regards to issues recently discussed with Mayor & Council.
• The City of Victoria forwarded copies of six resolutions they recently passed. Three were to be shared with all local governments in BC: Observed Inhalation Sites for Overdose Prevention, Safer Drug Supply to Save Lives in BC, and Shifting Investment to Low Emission Transportation. Three were to be shared with members of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities: Revitalizing Island Rail, Promoting and Enabling GHG Reductions, and protecting Old Growth Forests. Most of these were received without comment, but the item regarding Old Growth Forests caused a stir. In it, the City of Victoria calls for a moratorium on all old growth forests on Vancouver Island, and amendments to the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan. It goes on to also resolve to work with local communities, first nations, labour organizations etc. This wasn’t good enough for some North Island Mayors, including Mayor Unger, who are wondering where Victoria gets off telling them how to manage forests. Working with them after the fact wouldn’t help all of the small businesses and North Island Communities, who are already pursuing sustainable management and value added initiatives. A moratorium at this point would mean the loss of more than 1700 jobs on the island and the west coast of BC and would be devastating to communities such as Gold River.
• A letter from the Mayor of Kitimat regarding graduated licensing for Motorcycles was received without comment.
• A late item to the agenda from Linda Perchaluk, one of the operators of the Arena Concession this past season, was asking why they had to shut down their “take out” services at the arena. Apparently the village had received a query asking why they were still operating when there was no ice in the facility. It was then pointed out that the lease for the concession clearly states: they are there to service those people attending functions at the arena (hockey, figure skating, curling, carnivals etc) they are only to be open when the arena is in use, they are not to cater outside of the facility, and they are not to hold dinners unless a room in the facility is being rented for that purpose. The administrator went on to point out that as the lease had also run out March 31, 2019, it was no longer an issue.
Mayor Unger advised everyone that Councillor Patrick has been able to secure a room in Powell River enabling her to attend the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Annual General Meeting later this month. It did not look like we were going to be able to attend this year due to a shortage of accommodation.
During Question Period resident Dawn Dakin asked a question about taxes that got rather convoluted. Resident and Elder Larry Andrews also encouraged Mayor and Council to include MMFN in any discussions and/or issues regarding old growth trees. Mayor Unger reassured him that they have a very good relationship with local First Nations and information is regularly shared with both Band Manager, Kevin Kowalchuck and Lands Manager Dorothy Hunt.
The Mayor then went on to introduce our new CAO, Brad McRae, and it became apparent that this was Mr. Plourde’s last meeting as the Administrator! Larry has served the community as CAO for more than 27 years. He remains under contract until September, helping the new CAO and working on a few side projects. The Mayor said a few words of thanks and Larry, after a few emotional comments, showed great restraint in only telling of a few of the more colourful experiences he’s had while on the job for the village. It seemed a little anticlimactic, though I’m sure there is a much more memorable celebration being planned somewhere. There was a picture, and a quick round of hugs, then we all got back to business. Council adjourned in-camera pursuant to the Community Charter section 90(1)(c) labour relations or other employee relations, and the rest of us headed home.
The next Council Meeting will take place Monday, April 15 at 7pm