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Budget Deliberations

Fire Chief, EPC Coordinator, Public Works all vie for funds

February 6, 2024 Edition

Event: Lions Bay COW Meeting

Time: 5:00 pm

Agenda: HERE

Infrastructure Committee Report: HERE

Video link: HERE

The beginning of the meeting was delayed due to a technical difficulty resulting in a lack of quorum, but was finally called to order at 5:15 p.m. Present at the council table were Mayor Ken Berry, Councillors Neville Abbott, Marcus Reuter and Michael Broughton, along with Public Works Manager Karl Buhr, Chief Administrative Officer Ross Blackwell and Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff. Deputy Corporate Officer Marina Blagodarov was also present. Councillor Jaime Cunliffe offered her regrets.

There was a single resident present in the gallery (in addition to public speakers) and another nine participants online.

The meeting opened with objections registered regarding the agenda, from both Councillors Abbott and Reuter to the late delivery of the agenda package, which meant neither had sufficient time to read prior to the meeting. Abbott also noted that once again, the Public Participation elements had been dropped from the draft agenda. Reuter voiced his concerns about the timing of recent meetings, citing the Procedures Bylaw which states meetings should not begin before 6 p.m. to allow time for public participation. He expressed further concern about the "culled and censored emails from residents that never see the light of day." He suggested that Council needs to "come out of the shadows and start doing things right."

Chief Administrative Officer Blackwell suggested that the early starts were intended to assist Council with the sheer volume of material that needed to be covered.

After further discussion, the agenda was approved with the removal of past minutes to allow Council members more time for review, and the addition of the Public Participation elements. Reuter voted against.

Public Participation:

Online, Norma Rodgers said that Lions Bay Fire Rescue (LBFR) vehicles are 14 and 24 years old, and said she was confused by the information provided with the request to borrow $1.35 million plus taxes to purchase a new fire engine. She pointed to the 'insurance implications' section which states that engines under 15 years old receive 100% rating, engines 16-20 years old receive 50% rating and must be used as a spare or in support only, and 20-year-old engines receive 0% rating. She added that what was not noted was that according to the Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS), small communities with populations of under 30,000 are approved to use fire engines up to twenty years of age for first line duty. She added that FUS also recognized budget constraints within small communities, and allow equipment to be recognized for fire insurance grading past 20 years, if it passes annual mechanical tests. She asked for comment from Council. Mayor Berry deferred comment to the Fire Chief.

Unfinished Business:

The bulk of the meeting was devoted to staff addressing supplemental budget requests by department.

Fire Chief Barret Germscheid presented five separate supplemental budget requests.

  • Spartan S-180 pumper fire engine, $1,350,000 (Page 15). Germscheid described the age and state of the current fleet, and made his case for a new fire engine. He offered a 'fleet renewal strategy' including the implications of borrowing money to cover the costs. Extensive discussion arose, including addressing the points made earlier by Norma Rodgers about the Fire Underwriters Survey, the costs and benefits of yearly vehicle testing, electrical system issues in the current vehicle, potentially unavailable parts and Germschied's statement that delaying a new vehicle purchase is just "kicking the can down the road". He recommended starting a savings account for future vehicle purchases, and said that a vehicle ordered today will not be delivered for between 12 and 18 months. Blackwell noted that based on that price, Council would need to save $90-100,000 yearly to pay for a truck over 15 years. Councillor Broughton confirmed that a fire truck had been grant-funded in the past.

  • Backhoe/forklift, $40,000 (Page 18). Germscheid said the forklift currently used during training by LBFR originally came from the marina, and is 46 years old. He said he can find a used piece of equipment (either a forklift or a backhoe that can be modified) for under $40,000 as a replacement. Discussion arose as to whether it was possible to share the Public Works backhoe, whether it could be driven along the highway to the gravel pit, and the Public Works' not-off-road-capable forklift. It was decided further discussion would happen between Germscheid and Buhr.

  • Penthelon Cutters (Jaws of Life), $30,000 (Page 19). Germscheid said that modern vehicles are built with hardened materials to protect passengers, but are more difficult to cut through when a speedy rescue is needed to save someone's life. He noted the requested equipment is cordless and battery-powered, replacing a hydraulic-operated system. He said his goal is to have two new cutters and spreaders, valued at $44,000 per pair.

  • Member Housing Funding $50,000 (Page 20). Germsheid noted that in spite of repeated recruiting requests, the Village has only five owner-based members, so the department relies on new recruits, who are regularly hired away. The highest membership number since his tenure was 32, and is currently operating with active membership in the low 20s. The request is for incentive funds to make the cost of living in Lions Bay (a requirement for fire-fighters) more appealing to new LBFR recruits.

  • Incident Commander (IC)/Support Vehicle $50,000 (Page 21). Used to take the IC to an incident without taking away seats from fire responders, and collect responders who have been taken off scene if assisting other emergency services. Germscheid related how he has been using his personal vehicle to collect members who have been stranded at the hospital and elsewhere after calls. He said he believes he can get a used vehicle for this price, noting a vehicle that can carry contaminated materials in the back would be best choice, or possibly an SUV or van. Reuter asked about the existing vehicle '63', and whether it can do the job for the present, but Germscheid pointed out that the second truck will be dispatched and carrying members as well, meaning he can't head off to an incident ahead of his team to set up incident command.

Emergency Planning Coordinator (EPC) Phil Folkersen made three supplemental budget requests:

  • EPC Funding $10,000 (Page 23): Folkersen asked for an increase in funding in order to complete his own duties, as he said more responsibilities have arisen with the enhanced legislative requirements. When asked, he clarified that this is not an increase in his rate, but in the number of hours he can spend on completing his duties. He said he may or may not be able to get some grant funding to cover these cost, but asks for the money as a contingency to cover all the activities legislated, plus the outreach he's been doing personally.

  • Honourarium for Emergency Support Services (ESS) Director, $20,000 (Page 25): Folkersen noted the current ESS Director, Mary Brown has to meet extremely high expectations for her position, and is extraordinarily trained and prepared.

  • Hazard and Risk Assessment, $30,000 (Page 24). The request is to cover the costs of a consultant to conduct the risk assessment. In response to Abbott's question as to whether the long-awaited evacuation plan will be made available this year, Folkersen said a draft evacuation plan will be presented at an event he has planned in March.

Public Works Manager Karl Buhr made a dozen supplemental budget requests:

  • Highway Tank Replacement, $1 million (Page 27). Buhr prioritizes this long-standing project (the tank dates from the 1960's and is currently deteriorating and is a possible source of major leaks). He says a new tank will monitor leakage iand help support the anticipated water shortage this summer from low snow packs. $25,000 was already budgeted for the design in 2023. Buhr noted the complication that the Department of Highways now owns the land on which the tank stands. (The Watershed asked for a clarification, but has not heard back from Buhr as to whether the new tank would be built on Village property). Among other improvements, this new tank comes with a pressure release valve (PRV) which will provide better water pressure and address fire pressure deficiencies on Lions Bay Avenue. Buhr noted that the design was mostly completed six years ago.

  • Tidewater Drainage, $500,000 (Page 28). Buhr said this is a perennial problem that needs to be fixed now, or it could end up costing two or three times more due to washouts.

  • Klatt Public Safety Building renovation, $499,000 (Page 29), which has previously been approved and is 100% grant funded.

  • Connector Project, $429,333 (Page 30). The re-scoping of this project is in the hands of a resident committee. Must be complete by Dec, 2024. 75% grant-funded by Translink. Buhr anticipates it will take the form of a new bus shelter.

  • Magnesia Intake reconstruction, $333,333 (Page 31). Replace flawed, frequently failing intake with one similar to that at Harvey Creek. Figure noted is estimated, as the area is steeper than at Harvey Creek. He felt that savings could arise from no longer having to cover all the overtime currently paid to repair and unclog the existing structure.

  • Bridge Deck Joint replacement, $320,000 (Page 34). Buhr calls this a priority, as he is concerned the internal rebar supporting the deck joints is failing, which could have catastrophic results. There are seven bridge decks in the village that require inspection and repair. $150,000 was approved for this project in 2023, but rescinded in light of the Bayview Bridge costs.

  • Mountain Drive drainage culvert, $200,000 (Page 33). There is a sink-hole at the Mountain Drive cul-de-sac requiring repair, that was budgeted for $150,000 in 2023 but not undertaken.

  • SCADA equipment updates, zone flow metering, $205,000 (Page 34). Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems which digitally monitor equipment will allow for zone monitoring of leakage, to help locate leaks for repair. Existing Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) were damaged by lightning in 2023, and are not replaceable. Updates will allow better monitoring of chlorination in water system top to bottom, and allows for grounding of equipment to prevent further lightning damage. $100,000 was budgeted for the project last year and not yet used.

  • Oceanview Road water main and drainage, $150,000 (Page 35). Requires repair as do the connections to mains and drains of Highview and Creekview. Road slumping shows that the mains themselves are likely failing. $50,000 was funded for this project in the 2023 budget.

  • Pride Trail rebuild, $70,000 (Page 36). This is 100% funded by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) and already underway.

  • Jetty rebuild, $190,000. (No page reference for this, as it was discussed in last week's COW meeting). Buhr reiterated that this project needs to be done concurrently with Beach Park repairs, and says that it will pay for itself over time, and help protect the beach.

  • Floating Dock at beach, $50,000 (Page 37). Current dock and log boom need replacement, and this will mean the Village will not have to fund removal by barge every year.

  • Kuboda side-by-side utility vehicle, $25,000 (Page 38). Suggested in lieu of funds that are no longer earmarked for repair of the access road (which may be covered by a grant). This vehicle can be used to maintain facilities at the Magnesia Intake, and help reduce wear and tear on Works trucks.

Additional discussion addressed:

  • Speaking for the Climate Action Committee, Abbott said the report addressed the long-standing calls for upgrading the heating in the Village Hall ($150,000 over three years), and the establishment of a mini-recycling facility at the Public Works Yard. The recycling facility would benefit from a $25,000 yearly grant from BC Recycling which would almost completely cover the costs plus provide possible further savings depending on usage.

  • Abbott noted that the Infrastructure Committee (IC) recommendations don't call for anything that the Public Works has not already highlighted. (Report HERE), The report prioritized six top projects, beginning with bridge end repairs, and including the replacement of the Highway Water Storage Tank, the reconstruction of the Magnesia Creek Intake, the up-date or replacement of aging SCADA hardware and software, the the replacement of the Creekview Place water main and the design for the replacement of the Highview Place water main.

  • 'The IC final recommendation is to provide pH adjustment to the finished water. The slight acidity of Village water can create lead-leaching in homes with lead solder in their copper piping, One possible IC goal is to treat the water to make it more alkaline, as controlling pH will soon be required. Abbott suggested that Village water expert Tony Greville could be invited to speak about the implications of changing the pH of Village water.

  • Buhr reiterated that if the Village is going to run out of water, it will be this year due to combination of leakage and low snow packs.

  • Blackwell said he will ask Metro Vancouver the cost of piping water to the Village, in the case of short supply. It was noted that when the Village is short on water, Metro will also likely be short.

  • Buhr reiterated his conviction that the Village doesn't have a supply problem, but has a distribution problem, because of the leaks. Abbott noted that there is still a supply problem if the leaks can't be found and fixed.

  • Reference was made to the ongoing University of British Columbia (UBC) study analyzing the breakdown between surface and subsurface flows.

  • Abbott, speaking for the Climate Action committee, said that some information has changed, so they will meet again to modify the request. He asked if the gas tax, which must be spent before next year, could be used to reduce the costs to the Village.

  • After a request from Blackwell, Council decided to compile a list of possible questions before asking the Fire and EPC chiefs back for further clarifications.

  • Abbott reiterated his request for a chart that summarizes the grant information. He also suggested that the $1 mllion provincial grant from 2023 be directed to the highway project, which would allow the project to start before the budget is approved.

  • Abbott also noted that if a loan of more than five years duration is required to purchase a fire truck, public approval is required.

Public Questions and Comments:

Resident Deirdre Bain expressed her concern about the removal of fencing around the Bayview Road Bridge, which she said presents a safety issue. Buhr replied that the issue is being addressed this week.

With no further comments, Council voted to move the meeting into closed, citing "the security of the property of the municipality" as the reason, and the public was dismissed. The Mayor stated there was nothing to report out following the end of the closed portion, so the meeting was adjourned.

The next scheduled Regular Council meeting will take place February 20, at 6 p.m. As always, The Watershed welcomes your thoughts. Leave your comments below, or email us at 

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1 Comment

Norma Rodgers
Norma Rodgers
Feb 08

Thanks again kc, I SO rely on your summary to fill in the bits I can't hear. The new cameras provide interesting close-ups but the sound is still garbled.

I was pleased to learn that any loan over 5 years must gain support from village residents. We will have input over whether the village takes on a debt of almost 2 million with interest payments to buy a new fire truck when our 14 year old engine is approved by the FUS to continue operation for 6 more years.

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