Wednesday, March 22, 2017

City Council Timeline, Monday, March 20, 2017

38 minutes and out, that was the amount of time that elapsed from the start to finish of the City's final Regular Council session for Monday evening.

The light workload included a brisk and final overview of the city's Budget plan, a presentation from the regional Conservation officer and a final look at a zoning variance issue, all of which made for the majority of the work on the night for the City's Mayor and Council members.

The City's Chief Financial Officer, Corinne Bomben offered up a nine minute review of the elements involved in the Budget process, taking some questions from Council members, wth the process then turned over to the public gallery for comment.

However, with no comments offered up by the public related to the Budget Process, the Mayor moved on to a presentation from the Conservation officer on night, an overview which took up eighteen minutes of the thirty eight minute meeting.

Following the presentation, the Mayor then turned Council's attention to the Regular Agenda for the night.

That timeline of the night's events made for a situation where the anticipated Public comment period for the Committee of the Whole session was apparently abandoned, something which meant that anyone in the public gallery with comments outside of budget issues, were not offered an opportunity to participate on the night.

That procedural oversight was apparently not picked up by any of the other Council members, or City staff on hand and is part of the council meeting process that someone in the room should have picked up on.

As for the Regular Council business the Application for development for Kootenay Place was the only item of business, with Mayor and Councillors taking advantage of the final minutes of the meeting to raise items of interest to them.

For some background on the items of note on the evening, the Agenda for the Regular Council session for March 20th can be reviewed here.

Prior to the 7 PM meeting, Council also had a Closed Session Scheduled for earlier in the day, the notice to close it to the public can be examined from the agenda link here.

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 March 20, 2017

Mayor Lee Brain-- Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present  
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney --  Present 
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Present 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -- Present 

Video Archive for March 20, 2017

( 0:00 -- 0:30 ) Committee of the Whole Session -- The Mayor reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, with Council then approving the Agenda while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.

(0:30 -- 9:30) Report from the Chief Financial Officer on the Budget Consultation -- Corinne Bomben provided the final overview of the city's Budget preparations, providing her financial plan for Council's review. She provided a snapshot of budget related items delivered in previous sessions and from last week's public consultation session.

The main focus for the presentation on the evening was a comparison between 2016 and 2017 Mill Rates related to property taxation levels for this year.

She also noted some of the different agencies that the city collects taxes on behalf of, as well as to provide some information on how residents can take advantage of a range of options to reduce their tax payment burden.

Councillor Thorkelson did seek out further some clarification in the area of industrial mill rates compared to the residential rates. Noting that industrial ratepayers were still operating under capped levels leaving the larger burden to residential and commercial payers.

Councillor Randhawa inquired about a breakdown on how many residents may face tax increases this year, Ms. Bomben noted that the information had been delivered at the Budget Consultation last week and was available online.

Councillor Cunningham also called attention to issues related to industrial taxation, asking why, with significant work taking place at the Port they have seen a drop in their taxation levels, he was advised that the investment of 2016 did not outpace the depreciation of their total properties.

Mr. Cunningham followed up inquiring about changes to the assessment level, with Ms. Bomben advising that some of that  change came from how the container port's yard lighting was assessed and from that, there was a drop of close to 1.7 million dollars in the assessed value.

That left the Councillor to observe that not only was the province capping heavy industry, the were now nit picking and changing the way that BC Assessment makes their assessments, resulting in the value dropping even more and the City receiving less in the way of taxation levels from heavy industry.

The consultation period was then turned over to the public, however no members of the public came forward with notes of concern or comments on the process.

With that the Mayor then moved on to other items for the night

(9:30 -- 27:00) Presentation from the Northwest Zone Conservation Officer exploring interest in the creation of an interpretation centre in the community -- Council received a preview of a proposed information project that the region's Conservation Officer wants to develop to raise awareness on engagement with wildlife in the region.

Gareth Scrivner, the Terrace based Conservation Officer for the area outlined the background related to a concept for an interpretation centre for the community, suggesting that the Atlin Terminal building might be a good location for the display to be centred at.

He noted that such a facility would be an opportunity to bring local business, eco tourism and cruise ship interests together to help provide for increased education and awareness of wildlife on the North Coast.

As for partners, he suggested that the City, Local First Nations, UNBC, BC Parks and the Conservation service could be involved in the venture, as well as the business community and any other interested individuals and groups.

The Mayor and Councillor members expressed enthusiasm for the proposal, with Councillor Cunningham inquiring about how the project would be funded, he also noted that there were a number of empty spaces available in the city that could be used for such a project.

Councillor Randhawa asked as to whether there was any financial forecast in place to bring the project forward, he was advised that it was still in the early stages.

Councillor Kinney inquired about issues related to the Butze Trail, asking that he look into local concerns over hunting windows set up along that local area.

Councillor Thorkelson noted that she believed there would be some public interest and outlined some other areas where the proposed project could explore including marine life and plant identification, asking who would be the main contact point to stick handle the proposal along the way.

Officer Scrivner noted that once a chair and committee was in place they would be able to address those issues and set a process for exploring the project further. He also highlighted some areas where he has already explored assets to make use should the concept be developed further.

The Mayor suggested that the City take it under consideration to see if there was anyone on Council looking to be involved.

He also outlined a few areas where there could be cooperation in the community towards the proposal, as well as to offer to contact the museum to see if they have an interest in being involved and advised that he would get back to see if the project can move forward.

Following the presentation, the Mayor brought the Committee of the Whole Process to an end, moving Council along to the Regular Council agenda.

(27:30 -- 28:00) Regular Council Session -- The Mayor reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, with Council then approving the Agenda while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.

(28:00 -- 33:00 ) Report to Council from the Community Planner related to a development Variance permit for a property on Kootenay Place -- Caroline von Schilling, the City's Community Planner noted that it was the final review of the request and provided some background to the elements related to the variance.

Councillor Thorkelson inquired to some specific aspects of the proposed work to be done, Councillor Cunningham observed that he had toured the site and had no concerns related to it.

From there Council voted to approve the motion.

 (33:00  -- 38:00  ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Mayor Brain took opportunity to make an announcement related to funding for the city's water infrastructure replacement program, taking note as to how the City had secured over 7 million dollars in funding from Federal and provincial programs to be put towards the second phase of the Shawatlan water project.

With that funding now secured, the city will be moving forward with its plans to replace the Shawatlan Dam.

Mayor Brain also took advantage of the closing minutes to make note of some past news coverage from 2016 on the city's ability to access grant funding. Offering up the suggestion to the Northern View reporter in attendance that the paper's publisher may want to consider a retraction from those notes of the fall.

Councillor Thorkelson asked that the Mayor provide a short synopsis of the different elements of the water supply project.

Mr. Brain then provided a short overview of the first phase currently underway, to be followed by the replacement of the Dam and a third phase to replace the pipeline that brings the water to the community.

Councillor Cunningham raised concerns over medicinal grow ops in the community, asking if there is segment of the nusiance bylaw that covers the issue, following up with an inquiry if there is a way for the city to follow up on the problem.

The Mayor asked the City Manager if staff could look into the issue, Mr. Long said that they would check further and see how the problem may fit into the nuisance category.

And with those contributions complete, the evening's session came to a close.

You can access the City Council Review for March 20th herewhere a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, if any, 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.

In addition to the city's official minutes, the City's Video archive provides a helpful record of the events from each public council session.

Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from March 20, 2017 (not available yet)

The next regularly scheduled Council session, takes place on April 3rd.

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