GOLD RIVER VILLAGE COUNCIL - APRIL 16, 2018
Present at the regular council meeting were Mayor Brad Unger, Councillors Rod MacLeod, Darcy
Curr and Gordon Waterman. Councillor Kirsty Begon was absent. Administrator Larry Plourde
was also present. There were more than two dozen members of the public, and the press, in the
Tonights meeting opened with a presentation of the 2018-2022 Financial Plan. Administrator
Larry Plourde and Deputy Treasurer Maxine McLean gave a power point presentation of the
Village’s financial situation. There were a number of questions from the public and a great deal
The current budget is in deficit, which means the village is expecting to spend more than it will
take in this year. This has been the case for a number of years, and in the past, money needed
has been taken from savings. This is also the plan in the current budget. It is not something that
you can do forever, but it has allowed us to keep taxes low, and our recreation facilities open.
Projected deficits don’t always become actual numbers either. According to the Mayor, over the
past fifteen years a sum total of only $450,000 has been drawn from savings. The Village’s
primary responsibilities include sewage treatment, providing clean water and roads. Current
projects in these areas are pushing our budget to the limit.
One of the most debated items was the Centrifuge Project at the Sewage Treatment Plant.
Engineers originally estimated the project at roughly $600,000. When the bids finally came in
cost of the project had almost doubled in price. A large part of this was due to engineers
misjudging project costs. Staff and council assured everyone that the company was one we have
dealt with in the past and they are reputable. Items came up that hadn’t been anticipated and
material costs were higher than expected. The reality remains that the project needs to
happen and council are trying to secure more grant funding to cover the difference.
It should be noted that $495,000 of the original $600,000 has already been covered by grant
There were concerns raised that some companies “jack up” the prices when it comes to small,
remote communities who have little or no options. While it would be naive to think this doesn’t
happen, the administrator explained that market conditions usually play a bigger role. As in the
case of the 2010 Olympics, when well paying jobs on the lower mainland were plentiful, and
companies put out really high bids because they didn’t really need the work, or didn’t have the
A number of people were quite upset at the deficit position we are facing. One member of the
public went so far as to ask how they could approve a budget that is so far out of balance. “It
should be sent back until it is balanced!” he said. He then asked what councils plans were to
resolve the problem. Mayor Unger explained that that they are always on the lookout for more grants. He reminded everyone that in addition to generating interest, Savings allow us to partner on grant
opportunities, something Federal & Provincial governments often ask for. If you can’t provide
your share, you loose the grant, so having those reserves is important for a number of reasons.
He said they have already cut so many costs in the village, it’s hard to find other ways to save
money without cutting needed or wanted services.
The village is looking into a Community Forest Agreement or a Woodlot to replace the
Community Forest License we used to share through the Nootka Sound Economic Development
Corporation (NSEDC). The Mayor also touched on the Connect to Innovate program that is
currently bringing high speed internet to rural communities, including Gold River and Tsaxana.
The Administrator then reminded everyone of things that have already been accomplished,
including: Grieg Seafoods, who brought their fish farms to Nootka Sound. They worked closely
with the village to secure facilities at our wharf and currently bring a lot of freight across our
dock. The farm and hatchery jobs support families in Gold River and Tsaxana. Although it
didn’t go anywhere, not all ideas do, staff and council spent many hours working with Green
Island Energy, trying to get a Waste to Energy plant operating on the old mill site. Through the
formation of the NSEDC, a joint venture with Tahsis and Zeballos, we secured the last
Community Forest License issued, and brought needed manufacturing to the town. The shake
and shingle mill started up and a sawmill came down from Tahsis. The NSEDC, through Western
Forest Products, supplied them with wood for many years. He pointed out that the Village has
been a big supporter of the Golf Course, who in turn bring a lot of business to the community.
The Village is currently conducting an Economic Development study, and a Tourism study, with
the help of Ministry of Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. He also
pointed out that the fact that our facilities stay open and our taxes have not gone up, are
reasons people come, or have stayed here.
Keeping facilities open was another hot button item with those in attendance, when discussions
turned to what savings could be had if we started cutting back at our facilities. Apart from the
fact that almost no one in attendance was on board with cutting hours, overhead and the costs
involved in starting up after an extended closure, made savings with those options negligible as
well. We have a lot invested in our facilities and many people live here because of them. It is
the biggest reason past councils have continued to run at a deficit, in the hope that playing the
long game will hold our community together, while we look for solutions.
The Mayor then mentioned that council had just returned from AVICC, the Association of
Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention in Victoria. While there they had
discussed housing issues and money for senior housing in smaller communities. “The NDP are in
power now and should be helping us out,” said the Mayor.
They also discussed transportation and the possibility of getting some kind of regular public transit between Gold River and Campbell River. The Mayor also reported that there has been some serious interest from
someone looking at reopening a grocery store in the community. They are trying to put a plan
together and he is hoping to have more news in a few weeks time.
There were some questions about why we don’t have an Economic Development person in
place. The Mayor repeated what he had told everyone at a meeting a few weeks ago, no other
community under 1,500 has or can afford an Economic Development officer of their own. When
asked what an EDO could do for us, the Administrator explained that when the mill was running
we had an Ec Dev person and the village budgeted about $160,000 a year. They attended about
4 trade shows a year and mostly promoted lodges etc out in the sound, Air Nootka and the
Uchuck. We did targeted advertising at seniors and RVers. They ran the information centre and
sent out packages to people looking for information. We had a more active Chamber of
Commerce then and the EDO worked closely with them as well. He pointed out that all resource
based communities are facing the same issues and unfortunately for us we are at the end of a
road, not on a busy route.
There were questions about whether some of the items mentioned in the budget really needed
doing, such as replacing a work truck and a backhoe sometime in the next 5 years. The
Administrator explained that just because an item is in the budget doesn’t mean it is carved in
stone. Sometimes you can find grants, sometimes it is there to remind council that this big
ticket item is coming up and should be considered. Sometimes they can be pushed off for a few
years depending on what else comes up and how immediate the need is, but as councils change,
it needs to be shown, so they can plan for it.
There were some questions about staffing and whether we need the number of staff we have in
certain areas. The Administrator explained that staffing levels are already as low as they can
get while still maintaining health and safety standards. He also admitted that while it might
appear that village workers spend a lot of time “gardening”, once you put in vegetation that
needs to be looked after, you have to look after it. There were comments from the gallery on
this subject as well. “People talking about letting staff go is just ridiculous,” said one resident.
“If jobs are not done properly, go supervise. We need to keep standards and our population up.”
Administrator Plourde also reminded residents that 5 staff now do jobs that 10 staff did while
the mill was running, even though the village itself is the same size. Same number of roads,
same number of parks, same amount of sewer and water lines to look after. They are also
required to do far more reporting to other levels of government than they were 20 years ago. At
least 4 weeks of the year are spent doing this additional reporting.
Council then moved on to the regular meeting, approving the agenda and adopting the minutes
of the Regular Council Meeting held April 3, 2018.
There were three reports on the agenda:
Utilities Supervisor Michael Lott submitted a report on the village’s water tank. As part of the
2017 Strategic Goals and Objectives, council contracted an engineering company to conduct a
structural and seismic assessment of the villages steel water tank. Installed in 1965 it is the
only tank, there is no backup or duplex water tank capability. Everyone was impressed with the
condition of the water tower. All of the assessed items were deemed to be good to fair
condition. “It is remarkable that after 53 years of continuous service life that there has been
virtually no steel plate diminishment from weathering, corrosion, electrolysis or any other
degrading elements,” said the report.
Council received a report from Operations Clerk, Jan Rose regarding Pitch In 2018. Junior
Rangers will host the event Sunday, April 29th. Volunteers meet at the Community Centre at
10am where they can choose a route and pick up supplies. Snacks, drinks and a swim pass will
be waiting for participants upon their return.
The Accounts Payable listing was also approved.
Under Council Information Items Councillor Curr stated that he was quite concerned about the
housing situation in the community with regards to apartments, rental suites etc. He asked for a
report from staff that looked into what was being done in other communities and any concerns
that would need to be considered.
Mayor Unger explained that they had all just returned from AVICC the night before and would be
reporting on their findings at the next meeting.
He showed everyone a copy of the new brochure that has been printed with a map of the trails
around the Scout Lake & Antler Lake Recreation Area. He thanked the volunteers responsible for
seeing the project through.
He advised that staff had met with counterparts at Tsaxana to finalize three possible locations
for a cell tower in the valley. They identified one site at Tsaxana, another next to the Village’s
water tower, and a third option above Golden Hinde at the old CBC tower site. Recommendations have been sent in, now we wait to hear back.
Financial Plan Bylaw No 710, 2018 went through first and second reading again due to a
paperwork error. Sewer, Water and Garbage bylaws all received final adoption.
There were four items of correspondence, action was taken on the following:
Strathcona Community Health Network were looking for assistance with a Housing Needs
Assessment. It was unclear exactly what they were looking for. The Mayor said he would contact
them and get a better understanding. Master Carver Sanford Williams sent in a request for support regarding a grant, but again, it was unclear whether they wanted a letter of support for a grant, or for the village to apply for a grant on their behalf. Council received for information and will have staff follow up for
Mr. Joe Sinclair sent a letter regarding parking issues in his neighbourhood caused by residential
rentals. Councillor Waterman mentioned more than once that while he wasn’t happy with the
wording of the letter, he was in support of its intent. Mr. Sinclair also had a copy of an online ad
that stated rental homes were available as “multi unit suites”.
“This is a residential neighbourhood. It’s zoned single family,” he said. “How is this okay?”
Mayor Unger said there were some good points in the letter and that the ad was a little
upsetting. Then there was a lot of discussion about how to enforce existing bylaws. Eventually
the Mayor said they would take a month to look into the issue. Some of it is being dealt with in
the new OCP, some will be addressed in the report asked for earlier by Councillor Curr.
During Open Session it was pointed out that in addition to the brochure showing trails in the
area, signage is going up at trailheads and along the individual trails. The Mayor said they would
post a copy of the map on the villages website and everyone was encouraged to share it as
much as possible.
Another resident pointed out that current parking issues would only be compounded with the
approval of basement suites. Councillor Curr stated that 2nd suites were only in the discussion
phase at the moment.
With no further business to discuss council adjourned in camera at 10:17pm, pursuant to the
Community Charter section 90(2)(c) labour relations or other employee relations.
The next council meeting will take place Monday, May 7th at 7pm.