Wednesday, November 25, 2015
City Council Timeline, Monday, November 23, 2015
Beyond the various zoning issues that were addressed as part of the Monday session, the bulk of the one hour meeting was taken up by a review of the city's plans to increase the recreation fees for city operated Recreation Facilities.
Ms. Willa Thorpe the City's Recreation Director provided Council with an overview of what the department hopes to achieve through their plan, which would see fees increase by five percent over the course of five years, while also putting money aside towards a capital expenditures fund.
Council also heard an update on the developments with the Housing Committee, a report from Councillor Mirau on his attendance at the Cities Fit for Children Forum this month in Vernon, while Councillor Cunningham noted the achievement of a local resident.
Mayor Brain had two notes to wrap up the night, with a short overview of the recent job losses from Canadian Fish and how residents can seek help in employment issues related to that announcement.
He also advised that the City is about to launch a major vision program, to provide residents with more background on the City's Strategic planning.
Monday was also a Committee of the Whole night, and four residents chose to make their thoughts to Council known during that part of the evening.
For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, see the Regular Council Agenda for November 23, 2015.
Council also had took part in the latest of their Special Closed Sessions which was held earlier in the day at 5:00 PM.
Further information from our overview and placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the minutes added as they are posted to the city website.
In attendance November 23, 2015
Mayor Lee Brain-- Present
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present (participating by phone)
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -- Absent
Video Archive for November 23, 2015
( 0:00 -- 13:30 ) Committee of the Whole Session for October 26, 2015 -- Four residents took part in the Committee of the Whole session, the first a resident of the downtown area who had concerns related to a proposed development of a condominium complex at Bill Murray Way and Stiles Place.
The public was advised by the Mayor that the project, if it moves ahead would be the subject of a public hearing in December.
The next speakers were Michael Gurney and Lucas Anders who offered an invitation to their production of Stones in his Pockets set to take place in December at the Lester Centre.
The third presentation involved a request that the City create a Climate Change Committee to address Green house gas reduction and ways that the City could lead the community by changing perspectives on the issue.
The evening's contributor noted that there are ways for the city to reduce its contribution to the issue, by way of converting vehicles to other sources of energy. He also had comments related to the plan to increase rates for use of Recreation Facilities and made note of the current situation which sees reduced rates for civic staff and RCMP members in place.
Councillor Cunningham offered up a number of points on rebuttal related to that presentation addressing both the Recreation Centre issues and the theme of city employees driving around the city.
The final presentation also involved issues of concern related to the Stiles Place condominium proposal, with a question related to why the City was not adhering to the Quality of Life Official Community Plan bylaws, when it comes to the single developer proposal. She also noted that the new building if constructed would block Pillsbury House from public view.
The Mayor again made note of the prospect of a Public Hearing on the proposed development, directing the public to make their comments on the proposal at that time should Council move forward with the proposal.
( 13:30 -- 14:00 ) Regular Council Session -- Adoption of Past Minutes and Agenda for the evening. -- Council reviewed a number of past minutes and accepted the Agenda for the evening's Regular Council session.
Petitions and Delegations
( 14:00--16:00) Report from the City Planner related to a property on 8th Avenue East -- Mr. Krekic then provided a short update on the nature of the request in front of Council, with the variance application to change the font set back of the property to provide for a covered entrance.
Council then voted to carry the motion and moved the process forward to the public notification process.
( 16:00--30:00 ) Report from the City Planner regarding the Bill Murray Way Development -- The City Planner provided some background to the proposal for a condominium development at Stiles Place and Bill Murray Way, as well as a review of the report previously delivered to Council over the summer.
Mr. Krekic then suggested a number of amendments to that initial recommendation, including that the property be the subject of spot zoning, with Mr. Krekic introducing a new zone to be known as C6 for that particular area of the downtown.
Councillor Mirau asked a few questions related to the aspect of parking related to the proposed development, looking for clarification as to how that would be examined.
Councillor Randhawa recounted the concerns of the presenter to the Committee of the Whole session, related to how the proponent of the development could address any issues of noise from the development.
Councillor Kinney asked for a clarification on what impact if any the project might have on Pillsbury House.
Councillor Mirau offered up his endorsement of the use of spot zoning for the proposed development and that he would like to see the project put to the people for their review.
Council then voted to give first and second reading to the motion and to move the process on to the Public hearing phase, with that hearing scheduled for December.
( 30:00--38:30 ) Report from the City Planner regarding rezoning for a proposed development for Prince Rupert Boulevard at Drake Crescent -- Mr. Krekic provided a short review of the nature of the rezoning request and what some of the particulars of the proposed development might look like. With the new zoning allowing for structures of up to four stories, with the indication being that it would be a mixture of densities planned for the area in question.
Mr. Krekic noted that if the zoning amendment was approved, the proponent would be required to hold a public information meeting as part of the process.
Mayor Brain asked about the nature of the types of housing proposed, Mr. Krekic noted that the full overview would be outlined as the process moves forward, at the permit development stage.
The Mayor followed up that he believes it would be a good idea for the applicant to provide some indication as to what he might have in mind for the property in question. Councillor Randhawa asked about any buffer zones between the proposed development and other housing in the area.
Mr. Krekic noted that the proposed development works within the guidelines of the City's Quality of Life Official Community plan. Councillor Cunningham observed that the proponent was basically looking to create similar accommodations as to those that are found on the other side of Drake.
Mr. Krekic also made note of some subtle differences between the density levels that might be found on the proposed site.
Council voted to approve the motion, sending the proposal to the public information stage.
( 38:30-- 1:03:00) A report from the Recreation Director on the results of a study on fees at the Recreation Centre -- Ms. Willa Thorpe outlined some of the key findings from a recent staff review from 2014 regarding the Recreation Department, which explored areas such as usage, as well as fees and charges and how to streamline them to provide access to recreation options for a wide segment of the community.
The findings of the report included the three key results highlighting how 75 percent of the operations budget of the recreation department is subsidized by taxpayers.
Ms Thorpe noted that if the City maintains the same fees that are currently charged, by the year 2020 they will find themselves 27 to 42 per cent lower than the average of similar communities as Rupert, highlighting as well how there is a necessity to streamline the fees and charges to improve the ease of use and accessibility to the facilities.
She called attention of Council to two of those pieces that need to be keyed in on, the first is to maintain or improve the ability for low income residents to access recreation facilities and also to amalgamate the rates to provide opportunities for Seniors to have access to the facilities.
Staff is requesting that Council provide first, second and third reading to the bylaw as well as to establish a Recreation Capital Reserve Fund in the amount of five percent of all recreation revenues annually, which will be used towards facility maintenance and possible expansion of services.
The Mayor then provided a few observations on the nature of the request noting that the taxpayers are currently subsidizing the recreation centre by 2.5 million dollars, with council facing a challenge between a fair balance between fees and taxes when it comes to the Recreation Centre.
He also asked Ms. Thorpe to provide a short explanation of the Recreation Access Program which is in place to provide assistance to those families below the income cutoff rate threshold. It was explained that the program provides the opportunity for those in need to receive 53 admissions to the complex, as well as reduced fees for programs, up to 300 dollars per allowable individual.
She also provided the background to the proposed amalgamated rate which would in effect reduce rates for Seniors, with an increase of one dollar for adults as part of that plan.
The Mayor then asked for an update on the new recreation software to be put in place by 2016 and what it might be able to provide for the city as far as information on recreation centre usage.
Ms. Thorpe provided some anecdotal information related to usage and the public impressions of the Recreation Centre, noting that usage appears up and that those taking advantage of the facility are reporting that it is in better condition than it has ever been in.
As for Capital Improvements planning, the five percent requested would be directed towards putting aside money to work on issues as they arise at the various facilities at all of the city's recreation facilities.
Councillor Cunningham offered up some observations related to the five percent increase request, suggesting that the capital projects would in the end be required and the city will have to address them through taxation.
As well, as part of his narrative on the theme, he observed that the prospect of cutbacks to services and programs could be something to be concerned about, should the City not find additional streams of revenue for the facility. He also noted that there has never been a Capital Asset Fun in place for the Recreation Centre before.
Councillor Kinney complimented Ms. Thorpe on the report and then asked if a lift was among some of the plans for the stairs at the two complexes, he was advised that those plans were already in motion.
Councillor Niesh also expressed his thanks for the report and suggested that the public review the document to get a better understanding of the nature of the increases and what the incremental approach may provide for residents.
Councillor Randhawa expressed his concerns over the rates for youth and noted that with more job losses in the community families may have problems accessing money for recreation, asking for a rate break for youth and families.
With no seconder for the motion, that initiative found no traction, however the Mayor asked that Ms. Thorpe outline more of the background related to the initiatives in place for youth at the Recreation Facilities.
Councillor Cunningham noted that youth at risk and others with financial challenges have been well taken care of, he returned to his theme that unless the Recreation Centre was able to start to contribute to its own economics, the City might be faced with having to reduce services.
Mr. Cunningham also recommended that Council make the rate increase be put in place for all users.
The Mayor brought the discussion to a close by observing that at the end of the day the City won't be turning away any child away from the Civic Centre.
Councillor Mirau also voiced his support for the program noting the need to address the capital costs associated with the Recreation Centre, while Councillor Niesh asked for a bit more background on the initiatives that the Recreation Centre have in place to make the public more aware of their programs and assistance available.
The Mayor also noted that the city's Communication Manager would be using Social media to alert the public to the city's new plan and the programs of the Recreation Centre.
Council then provided first, second and third reading to the motion, with Councillor Randhawa voting against the motion.
( 1:03:00 -- 1:04:00) Report on the Housing Committee -- The Mayor updated Council on the latest developments, noting that through the Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society a new consultant has been hired to move forward the Affordable Housing process. He expects that more momentum on the issue will be found by March, with hopes to have plans to get something off the ground to be in place by March of 2016.
(1:04:00 -- 1:11:00) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council
Councillor Mirau provided a short overview of the Cities Fit for Children Summit in Vernon, noting that he, the City Planner and Kate Toye from Success by Six took part in a number of sessions and workshops that related to Child Friendly options for cities. He in particular was impressed with the concept of the Children's Bill of Rights and suggested it would be a great statement for the City to make.
Councillor Cunningham called attention to the success of Lonnie Wishart, who has compiled a book of photography that has been selected by Scotia-Waterhouse for further distribution and mention across Canada.
Councillor Kinney offered up his congratulations to the newly elected Mayor and Council of Lax Kw'alaams and expressed how he was looking forward to working with them in their new term.
The Mayor commented on the recent announcement of job losses at the Canadian Fish plant in the city, noting that the City is still working with the company to determine just how many jobs will be lost. He also advised that a Task Force has been created to address the job losses being handled through the Hecate Strait Employment Centre, providing assistance in job searches and other aspects of the situation.
He also passed on best wishes to a resident celebrating her 100th birthday.
Mayor Brain also outlined that the City is launching a major community vision project for the public this week, teaming up with the city's weekly newspaper. The five part vision program will make use of social media and provide a media release to explain what the program is about, outlining some of the strategic planning and surveys that the city has conducted.
You can access the City Council Review for November 23rd here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to media coverage of it can be found.
As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.
Minutes of the Regular Council Session from November 23rd, 2015
Council next meets in Regular session on December 7th in Council Chambers at City Hall. That will mark their final scheduled meeting of the year for 2015.