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Council in Focus

A brief recap of council meetings, as viewed from the gallery

June 20, 2023 Edition

Event: Lions Bay Council Meeting

Time: Public meeting: 7:00 pm

Agenda: HERE

Video link: HERE


Present at the council table were Mayor Ken Berry, Councillors Jaime Cunliffe, Neville Abbott, Michael Broughton, Marcus Reuter and Acting Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov. Joining online was Controller Joe Chirkoff, consultants Randy Diehl (as contracted through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs), and Deanna Campbell (as contracted by the Village). Acting Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr sat in the gallery when not actively involved in the proceedings.


It was yet another well-attended meeting with seven present in person (including Buhr), and 32 online (including Diehl, Campbell and Chirkoff).


Reporting Out:

Mayor Berry began the open portion of the meeting by reporting out information from previous closed meetings. He noted that the last council meeting went to 12:40 am, so he had quite a list.

  • Deanna Campbell has been appointed as Lions Bay Corporate Officer on an interim basis. The motion was approved, opposed by Councillor Marcus Reuter.

  • In a new policy to be revisited in the fall, council has decided that no information will be provided by any member of council via the Village Update without prior Council approval. Oversight of Council communications will be controlled by the Acting Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov in conjunction with Acting Corporate Officer Campbell. The motion passed, opposed by Councillor Michael Broughton and Mayor Ken Berry.

  • The Acting Municipal Coordinator will also be the sole individual in charge of producing agendas, also in consultation with Campbell. The motion passed, with Broughton abstaining.

  • Citizen of the Year and Citizen of Distinction awards will be presented on July 1 during Canada Day events at the Beach Park. Councillor Neville Abbott added that the Curly Stewart Award will also be presented at the same time.

  • Council has accepted the proposal by Millenia Architecture for architectural and consulting services for Lions Bay Beach Park (LBBP) construction. The motion was opposed by Reuter and Abbott.

  • Abbott resigned his position on the LBBP immediately after the meeting.

  • The replacement of the Chief Administrative Officer is progressing under the guidance of the provincial advisor.

  • CAO Ron Miller's contract was not renewed when it expired on May 30. This was opposed by Broughton and Berry.

After a few corrections and adjustments, the agenda was adopted.


Public Participation:


Cunliffe opened public participation with a reminder to the gallery of the accepted etiquette policy as noted on the Village website.

  • Resident and former mayor Brenda Broughton requested that stop signs not be removed by Council from the three crossings for safety reasons, and to add stop signs in several locations. She attributed the past 50 years of "no vehicle-pedestrian interface" to the signs, and expressed concern that risks to pedestrian traffic had not been considered. She argued that "the municipality has the last word regarding the placement of stop signs", and asked that the Rail report (included in the agenda package) be received, but not acted upon.

  • At the podium, resident Mary McLauglin made reference to an inaccurate statement on the property tax information sheet sent out with tax notices, indicating that the 2023 taxation has increased by $262,000 because average property assessments increased by 8.1%. She noted that municipal taxation is driven solely by the budget passed by council, the total amount of which is then divided by the total assessed value in the village to come up with each parcel’s allotment of the budgeted tax. Overall taxation increases when council requires more money to fund its planned operations. McLaughlin asked if Mayor and Council understand how the municipal tax system works, and how this incorrect messaging was not caught by staff or the provincial consultants. She also asked if Council plans on correcting this misinformation in the next Village Update and, finally why the Mayor has supported increasing property taxes after campaigning to deliver a budget without tax increases. Abbott said that he hadn't yet read his property tax information, but that the error should be corrected. Berry thanked her and said the information would be corrected.

  • Online, resident Randi Byrne expressed gratitude to Council for the decision to remove former CAO Peter deJong, and said the atmosphere in the office has greatly improved. He made reference to an article in the North Shore News regarding deJong's impending lawsuit, and said it is puzzling why Village has not issued a statement. As he began to list possible reasons why this could have happened, Municipal Consultant Randy Diehl stepped in, saying that all issues of contractual nature are decided in camera until the matter is resolved, upon which they can be reported publicly. Berry said he anticipated there will be a statement to the public. Diehl interjected again, saying he "strongly advised" the Mayor to stop the conversation, and to make the decision in camera, with the benefit of legal advice. Byrne "implored" council to not return to secrecy of previous council, and to release a report as soon as possible. He then asked why former CAO Ron Miller's contract was not renewed, in the absence of a new CAO. Deanna Campbell said that legal obligations aside, under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act there is an obligation to not disclose personal information about current and former employees.

  • Resident Norma Rodgers, speaking online, addressed Tanya Cosgrave’s question to Council about whether Lions Bay sanctions (supports) The Watershed. She noted that the independent community publication has no relationship with Council or administration, other than editor kc dyer being a long-time resident. Rodgers added that in her opinion, publicly chastising residents with opposing views is divisive and not Council business. She noted that while Mayor and Council were elected by their supporters, they need to govern for all residents and accepting criticism and opposition are part of the job. Rogers also said that while written questions are responded to, verbal questions during council meetings are not addressed under the new system, and she asked if Council could determine a format to answer these questions publicly. Cunliffe agreed that this was a fair point, and suggested for the moment, residents should vocalize their questions and follow them up by email until a practice is established. Campbell said that an immediate public response is considered best practice, if there is no subsequent back-and-forth. Diehl agreed, adding the caveat that sometimes the best answer is not available in the moment, and could be supplied to the resident at a later time. Reuter, referencing his time addressing council as a resident, said he supported Campbell's point, and that answers can be given without getting into an on-the-spot debate. Council decided to discuss the issue further, with a plan to finalize a regular procedure.

  • Online, resident Glen Dodd commented that he'd noticed there was no Mayor's message in the last Village Update, and expressed concern that the Mayor was being gagged. Abbott responded that all council members are bound by the decision, made in a closed meeting discussion, that any material in the Village Update must be approved by Council before it is publicly reported. Reuter clarified that any member of council may contribute to the Village Update, but this now requires prior Council approval. "Pretty democratic," he added. The Mayor noted that the policy will be revisited in the fall.

Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings

A backlog of minutes from meetings held last year was reviewed, including Special Council Meetings held on November 24, November 30 and December 8. The minutes from the last regular meeting of council held on June 6 were also discussed. Broughton clarified that he has no longer any involvement in Broughton and Broughton Inc, the company that currently owns Lions Bay store. Additionally, Reuter asked that the clarification be made that the organizational chart presented at the last meeting by Mayor Ken Berry will be revisited by council at the strategic planning session. After a few amendments the minutes were approved.


Business Arising from the Minutes:

  • Abbott asked that an Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) meeting be called with Phil Folkersen in the next week or two.

  • Broughton noted Lions Bay Store owner Craig Doherty's request for a noise exemption for Lions Bay store at the last meeting was inadvertantly dropped. After discussion, Council agreed to grant an ad hoc exemption for any events between now and July 4, pending a more fulsome discussion at the next council meeting on that date.

  • Abbott also requested a report from PWM Karl Buhr for an update on the Klatt emergency services building.


Unfinished Business:

  • Reuter continues to pursue information on the Vacancy Tax.

  • Regarding his investigation of the reconstruction of traffic calming measures on Bayview Road, Buhr said he filed a report to council with a recommendation not to go forward, as it is too costly. Much discussion of the reasons behind the cost, whether the lower traffic control measure is considered a crosswalk and the difference between the terms humps (broad) vs bumps (narrow). Council voted to support the recommendation not to move forward, with Reuter abstaining.

  • Discussion of hiring seasonal/summer staff was relegated to the next closed meeting as it is a personnel matter.



Reports

Staff:

Public Works Manager Karl Buhr once again brought forward his recommendation regarding removal of the stop signs at Village rail crossings, based on the study found in the current agenda package. Despite of the $17,000 spent on a study by the previous council to find alternatives, Buhr said that this is a railway initiative, and the Village has no option left except to comply. Both Broughton and Berry spoke about their concerns regarding the removal of the signs. After nearly 30 minutes of discussion, the decision on whether to comply with the CN directive was deferred yet again, in order to receive more information on the rail plans for placement of lights and signage, and for Broughton to approach local MLA Jordan Sturdy and MP Patrick Weiler for support. The motion to defer was approved, with Reuter opposed.


Buhr then spoke to the grant application for the Disaster Mitigation Adaptation Fund. He said the blank application form is 200 pages, and will be double that when complete. He noted that this is only a 40% project grant, so does not meet the 50% figure previously set by Council. Abbott pointed out that Council has been talking about applying for this grant since January, but there hasn't been enough staff availability to complete the application. He said that because the grant can be directed toward drainage, which has to be done anyway, any kind of grant will be a help. After extensive discussion, Council directed him to go ahead and apply for the grant.


Broughton asked if recycling items that aren't picked up can be currently dropped off anywhere in the village. Abbott replied that it will be a part of the next contract, and will ultimately be very cost-effective.


Mayor:

Berry would like to bring Firesmart representatives to present to Council, but it was decided to redirect to the EPC and Climate Action committees, and allow them to bring something forward instead. There was discussion as to whether unpotable water in the old water tanks is useable for fighting fires, but Buhr noted that it impractical.


Berry then asked to make a motion that Council follow the guidance of Provincial Best Practices. Cunliffe suggested that listening to the advice of experts and having open discussion is preferable to passing a motion. After discussion, Diehl said that advice is difficult to legislate, and that the tools are already at hand. He suggested that Council benefits best from open discussion and working together. Campbell noted that the advice offered is not always going to work for Council, and discussing it as a group will help Council come to the best conclusion for the community.


Council:

Abbott, speaking on behalf of the climate action committee, asked if synthetic fuels can be used in Village equipment. He noted that Climate Action is already a Council directive, and referred council to the CAC report, beginning on page 44 of the agenda package. After discussion of Council's mandate, and end goals, Council directed the PWM to update the current reports with the latest info, and bring them back to the Climate Action committee for further discussion.


Cunliffe and Reuter committed to signing the Code of Conduct by email.


Committees:

Lions Bay Beach Park Advisory Committee:

Broughton reiterated that Abbott resigned from the committee, and Council formalized Cunliffe's appointment to the committee.


Parking and Highway Noise:

Broughton noted the ongoing concerns with parking and traffic in the village, and offered to help establish a parking committee as well as a committee to address highway noise. After discussion, it was decided to share existing Council appointments with Cunliffe, and then determine a meeting time to sort out the committees as soon as possible.


Resolutions:

  • Canada Day Fireworks: Extensive discussion arose regarding the motion that council could override the current Coastal Fire Centre fire ban in order to hold fireworks on Canada Day. A list of municipalities holding fireworks displays was compared to those who have chosen not to participate, as well as the fire risk weighed against the need to bring people together. In light of the presence of Lions Bay Fire Rescue, the motion was approved, with Reuter and Abbott voting against.

  • Canada Day Event: Council decided that parking regulations will be amended near the vicinity of the venue on Canada Day, subject to safety considerations for emergency vehicles, and the event will be exempt from the provisions of Noise Bylaw, and the park hours extended to midnight.



Correspondence:

List of Correspondence begins on page 79 of the agenda package.


General correspondence came from Skye Hawkings inviting the municipality to invest in the Eternal River project (page 82), Sharon Gregson from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC asking for support of the Union of BC Mayor's (UBCM) Child Care Resolution (page 84), and Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Weiler with an announcement regarding visas for eligible travellers visiting Canada (page 86), and a call for proposals for potential Youth Accessibility Leaders (page 88).


Resident correspondence begins on page 89 of the agenda package, with a letter from Chris Cauac regarding the spraying of toxic chemicals and Round-Up (page 89). Reuter noted he has spoken to the Invasive Species committee, which uses chemicals judiciously and only when manual removal is unsuccessful. The exception of CN Rail right-of-ways was noted.

Marilyn Cary wrote requesting Council take action with regard to hikers lighting fires (page 91).

Betty Birrell wrote of the hazards posed by the number of hikers in terms of parking, sanitation and fire (page 92). Reuter suggested Council bring residents' concerns over fire and a long-overdue evacuation plan to the EPC.

Zeyang Xu and Nichos Pat wrote with regard to water costs (page 93). Reuter brought up a discussion the residents' concern over water, including the possibility of water meters. Buhr noted that he recently found a leak of 48,000 gallons/day, and hopes he can locate any others. He added metering would help staff understand where the leaks are, but noting the project is costly, suggested that a rebate system might help.

Norma Rodgers wrote to ask why a permanent CAO has not been hired (page 94), and sent a second letter directed at Councillors Abbott and Cunliffe, asking them to reply to her concerns as promised at the last meeting (page 95). Both councillors noted they had replied by email.

Dave Butler wrote expressing his concern regarding the issuance of building permits without proper oversight (page 96), and Christine Livingstone offered the proposal that Council implement modest rebates on water storage tanks and rain barrels (page 97). Reuter said he would respond to the remaining letters to the best of his ability and the correspondence was accepted as read.



Public Questions and Comments:

  • Online, resident Tamara Leger expressed concern that the relaxation of the noise bylaw gives an unfair advantage to Lions Bay Store, which sells liquor, food and beverages. She said the Village should acknowledge they are making an exception for the store, and should therefore also give volunteer groups the same consideration. She also asked if Broughton should recuse himself from the vote, since his name is associated with the store.

  • kc dyer commented on poor sound quality of the Zoom meeting, and was told by Buhr that two new mics had been purchased.

And with that, just shy of three hours after it began, the public portion of the meeting adjourned.


The next regular Council meeting is scheduled for July 4 at 7 p.m.


Editor's note: The Watershed is cautiously optimistic that we have solved our technical difficulties, and we once again invite site members to comment below. Alternatively, all readers are welcome to share their thoughts at editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca


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