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Council in Focus

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

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

July 18, 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, and Michael Broughton, and Acting Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov. Joining online was Councillor Marcus Reuter, consultant Randy Diehl (as contracted through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs), Controller Joe Chirkoff and Corporate Officer Deanna Campbell. Acting Public Works Manager Karl Buhr sat in the gallery when not actively involved in the proceedings.


Considering this was the final regular council session before summer break, attendance was respectable, with 25 online (including those named above) and five in the gallery.


As there was no material to be immediately reported out from the closed portion of the meeting, Mayor Ken Berry moved straight to the agenda. At the request of Councillor Marcus Reuter it was agreed that in the interests of expediency, each councillor would be limited to speaking for a single session on each motion, to a maximum of two, rather than five minutes. There were a couple of last-minute adjustments to the agenda, including the addition of Emergency Program Coordinator (EPC) Phil Folkersen into the delegation portion of the meeting, and the agenda passed.


Public Participation:


  • Greg Weary, speaking in person, noted that he is a 24-year resident of the village, and had returned once again to council to address speed and noise on the highway. Weary handed out a picture of an avatar of a police officer to council members, noting that police commonly use life-size versions of these avatars to deter speeding on highways. He said he had met with RCMP officer Corporal Dallas Langley, who was understanding of the concern about speeders through the village, but suggested against displaying such avatars without police support. The officer said he would try to obtain similar avatars from Whistler, for use by the Squamish RCMP when setting up radar in Lions Bay. Weary asked council for permission to follow up on this line of enquiry, and for the name of a councillor who could act as a liaison for Weary to report back to. Council agreed to support his research, and Councillor Michael Broughton agreed to be Weary's contact.

  • Marek Sredski, speaking online, complained that the byelection expenses had surpassed $30,000, and suggested the resigning councillor should pay those costs. Councillor Jaime Cunliffe asked consultant Randy Diehl if public figures have ever been asked to cover election costs, as it was her understanding that no public official would be asked to pay for resigning under those circumstances. Diehl said that he was unsure, and suggested an elections officer would have the answer. Sredski then addressed the fire danger in the village, and said trimming vegetation away from roads was needed. He asked that Councillor Abbott "avoid being an obstacle to this process," (presumably referring to Abbott's stance about tree-cutting during nesting season), which he deemed a serious matter for the village.

  • Norma Rogers asked to limit number of hikers, as her neighbourhood has become a hiker parking lot over the summer, with hikers driving around Bayview, Mountain and Sunset for parking spots all day. She is disappointed in the increased garbage and alarmed by the number of cigarette butts under such dry conditions. She asked that trees and vegetation be clipped to avoid the risk of fire. She also objected to Public Works Manager Buhr's suggestion (beginning on page 47 of the agenda package) that hiker parking be directed to the gravel pit, and asked that hiker numbers be limited rather than providing more parking.

Delegations:


Clare Greenberg is the executive director of the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC), which is a registered charity and non-profit society. While technology limited Greenberg from sharing her slides online at the meeting, the information is available in the agenda package, beginning on page 7. She said the mandate of the society is to minimize the threat of invasive species, which impact the environment, the economy and human health in the Sea to Sky corridor. She noted the long history the SSISC has with Lions Bay, which has been a supporting partner since its formation in 2009. Greenberg gave an overview of the education programs and initiatives SSISC has available to village and regional residents. She directed council to their website HERE. Some of their projects have included school programming, signage projects, municipal staff training in invasive plant control, and since 2016 they have received municipal funding for specific projects on municipal lands. They also receive funding for projects from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), BC Hydro and the Ministry of Forests for projects in other jurisdictions. She said they plan to ramp up their education and outreach this year, to share information about invasive species.


Phil Folkersen: The Emergency Program Coordinator (EPC) said his part-time position lately feels a little more like full time. He spoke about his process for communicating concerns with Council, and then provided an update on the drought. He indicated that drought is measured in the province on a scale from One to Five, and of the 34 water basins in the province four are currently at at drought level Five, and 18 are at Four. He said the forecast indicates an historic drought for 2023, which will have impacts on both drinking water and fire risk. He added that BC is having its worst fire season since 1950, and it's just started. Citing statistics he pulled earlier in the day, he noted:

  • 381 active fires are burning in the province, of which 20 started in the last 24 hours

  • 317 of these fires have been caused by lightning, 14 by people, and 48 remain under investigation

  • 256 of these fires are out of control, 46 are being held, and 79 are under control

  • There are 21 fires of note, meaning those in close proximity to human habitation

  • Lions Bay falls into the Coastal region, which currently has 40 active fires

Folkersen noted that while Wildfire BC is doing their best, they are over-extended, and responses could be delayed. He suggested that residents need to be prepared, including having a family emergency plan in place and preparing Grab & Go bags (as reported HERE).

Folkersen said he believes the Fire Chief has requested Council fund a water truck, as Metro Vancouver has committed a supply of up to 100,000 gallons of water a day, should it be needed, but the transportation of the water would fall to the Village. This offer only applies as long as Metro Vancouver doesn't go to drought Level Five. He said he is in ongoing discussion with the Fire Chief regarding FireSmart issues, and that he is drafting a letter to the province requesting an increased presence of active BC Ambulance crews, which are currently in the village less than 10% of the time. He said he brought up the issue of hikers and the risks of fire and watershed contamination with the regional manager of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR), who said it would be discussed at their next meeting. He said he will be calling an EPC meeting next week to address these issues, as well as the viability of storing water to fight fires in disused tanks and a number of other ideas.


Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:


Council reviewed and approved the minutes from the last council meeting of July 4, after a few wording clarifications.



Unfinished Business:


  • Reuter continues to follow up with Ministry regarding the Vacancy Tax. He will report back to Council when he has more information.

  • Broughton has met with local MP Weiler and MLA Sturdy, who he says have been supportive of leaving the stop signs in place as has been discussed. He has further arranged a meeting with CN, Transport Canada, council members and staff. Broughton noted that CN says they are implementing Transport Canada's requests, and the discussion is ongoing. Broughton handed out a copy of the information letter he provided to the MP and MLA, and it was agreed he should continue his efforts and report back.

  • Buhr says that the application for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund is being submitted tomorrow, and he will report back with the result.

  • It was decided to address FireSmart concerns at the Emergency meeting to be held next week.

  • Buhr said that his updated report on diesel usage is ongoing, and he will report back to Council in the future.


Staff Reports:

PWM Karl Buhr:

  • With regard to the trimming of branches (*Note: the PDF of Buhr's report, as shown on page 46 of the agenda package, is illegible), Buhr stated that Hydro has reported trimming scorched branches away from principal wires around the village. He also said the Works crew has trimmed back trees and some foliage prior to upcoming road repairs on Bayview, in order to prevent further tree breakage and with due regard to concerns over nesting season.

  • There was some discussion of the specific wording on the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, regarding that the funding is for 40% of the project only, and further discussion of where the remaining costs can be drawn from. Buhr noted that there are adequate funds to complete the projects if required. Extensive discussion ensued on the subject of water rates, metering and the rapid degradation of village water infrastructure. Council agreed to submit the report as requested by Buhr.

  • Buhr's report on the current Village Parking Situation (page 47) offers astonishingly high numbers regarding hikers, with 14,000 hikers expected in July alone, in effect doubling last year's numbers. Buhr notes that the Village needs to expect these parking pressures will continue to rise every year. Discussion of possible options followed. Buhr requested that Council approve new signs, but Reuter suggested that to thwart signage confusion resulting from hikers believing they have bought a permit and then parking illegally, Works could try simply adding stickers that say 'Resident' on the 'Permit Parking Only' signs. After extensive discussion about administrative costs, hiker resentment toward residents leading to vandalism, and the amount of time to implement new systems, Buhr agreed to try the stickers on an experimental basis and report back. He also said that staff are investigating a number of other ideas including digital display signs at village entrances, implementing seasonal parking at the Brunswick gravel pit, improved enforcement tools, and app-only pay parking.

  • With regard to noise and speed issues on the highway through the Village, Buhr has asked that Council request the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to update the 2017 speed study; and that Council request MOTI to commission a noise study and resume advocating for an Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) pilot at Lions Bay, in concert with Squamish Council at the 2023 UBCM convention. Both requests were supported by Council. The report that accompanies this recommendation (page 52) was rendered illegible by a pdf reader, but the motion passed to work with Squamish on this endeavour. Buhr noted that there will be resistance, as the province is concerned they will be accused of resurrecting photo radar. Reuter noted that speed is only one tiny portion of the noise problem, and other issues including big trucks, engine retarder brakes, rough pavement and motorcycles also need to be quantified.

  • The staircase connecting the parking above with the Village Office is degrading, and Buhr asked that it be shut down until it can be replaced. Council agreed to the shutdown, but asked that he try to find a way to repair the staircase first.

  • Finally, Buhr said that the principal role of Public Works is to ensure the water runs properly, and he offered a Water Outlook as of mid-July 2023 (page 64). He noted that the water budget is very high, coupled with a challenging supply situation. he predicted that the Village will reach Level Three this year, which has only ever happened twice before. The report addresses supply, consumption, the degradation of aging infrastructure, water treatment, and the seriousness of potential water shortages. Further discussion included the potential for the village running out of water every year, regular blockages at the creek heads, the potential for fecal contamination due to the massive increase in hikers, the need for human waste disposal at the Tunnel Bluffs site (at an expected 500 usages per day), and the possibilities offered by wells and underground flow. Buhr asked Council to read the report and take it to heart, as water is essential to village life and it is under threat.

Controller Joe Chirkoff:

  • Chirkoff asked for more information to help him complete the Local Government Climate Action Program (LGCAP) Report (page 67). Abbott offered the support of the Climate Action Committee, and asked Chirkoff to attend the next meeting so they might help him complete this survey.

  • Chirkoff also presented the Accounts Payable Cheque Listing Report (page 104). He clarified that only 12 vendors pay their bills using Electric Funds Transfer (EFT), but all other payments are by cheque. Municipal Clerk Karen Jeffrey spoke online to clarify that any items on the list that do not have a cheque number are EFT or auto-withdrawal. Cunliffe noted that about $9500 was wasted, as it was spent to clear logs off the beach, which were later returned to the water by the Marina, and ended up back on the beach. Buhr says he will talk to the Marina about this, and bring some long-term ideas back to council.


Mayor's Report:


Berry said that all communication to staff should be through Karl Buhr, as the most senior staff member, or through the mayor. Reuter noted that in an organization the size of this one, sometimes this is not practical. Randy Diehl offered the opinion that it is a best practice to work through the chain of command. He added that the challenge for Lions Bay is the absence of a Chief Administrative Officer, and encouraged Council to remedy that situation.


Council's Reports:


Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov confirmed she had received signed copies of the Code of Conduct from all members of Council.


Abbott noted that the purchasing policy discussion has fallen off the radar, and asked Chirkoff to bring back the material to report to Council.


Broughton moved to change the resident correspondence policy, suggesting that in the absence of a CAO, "Councillors may respond to resident communication, consistent with Council policy when they directly involve that Councillor." The motion was defeated, and Corporate Officer Deanna Campbell agreed to offer suggestions for best practices to modify the existing policy at a future date.

Beach Park Committee:

Broughton said a meeting is upcoming, and more information will be available to the community in September.


Correspondence:

The list of Correspondence begins on page 114 of the agenda package.

  • General correspondence came from MP Patrick Weiler, informing Council of the Housing Accelerator Fund portal to fast-track the approval and building of new housing across Canada (page 115).

  • Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke wrote seeking support of her position supporting the return of the RCMP to Surrey (page 116).

  • Ivan Scott wrote of his concern regarding the role of Premier Dave Eby and Minister Mike Farnsworth in support of the Surrey Police Force (page 119).

  • Kaelyn D'Sena from Lifesaving BC wrote asking for council support of National Drowning Prevention Week (page 125).

  • George Harvey, Chair of Metro Vancouver wrote regarding a land-use change in Fraser Heights (page 128).

Reuter suggested these be received as read.


Resident correspondence begins on page 129 of the agenda package.

  • The first of this is a letter from Gregan Dunn following up on a letter he sent last year regarding the effect of delayed highway re-surfacing on the quality of life in the village. Reuter suggested that council receive this letter and refer discussion to the highway committee when it is formed.

  • Zeyang Xu and Nichos Pat wrote to follow up on their recent letter to council regarding water usage (page 133). Reuter noted that Buhr had answered this question in his water report.

  • Norma Rodgers wrote with several concerns. She said that previous PWM Jaffer was prevented from attending Council meetings, but the current PWM Buhr attends every one. She notes that staff used to call Zoom speakers according to the order they raised their hand, but recently the Mayor calls his supporters first and limits speakers. She says this Council has missed important financial deadlines, including utility notices and the annual municipal report, and continues to rely on the Ministry advisers to follow the Community Charter, and that the parking committee has not yet been formed. She also notes her April Freedom of Information request (FOI) regarding legal fees remains unfulfilled (page 134). Reuter felt that some of these issues were challenging for him to answer, and Campbell agreed to write a response.

  • In a separate letter, Rogers wrote concerning the comments of Councillor Broughton at both the June 20 and July 4 council meetings (page 135). She said that personal complaints about neighbours aren't council business. Reuter noted that individual councillors should not be directing staff. Broughton said he was confused by the reference that council was directing staff. After discussion, Broughton protested that he didn't direct bylaw to act in this case.


And for this final meeting before the summer break, there was no new business or questions from the gallery, so after just under two hours and 45 minutes, the public portion of the meeting adjourned.



The next meeting will take place September 5, with the public portion of the meeting to begin at 7 p.m. Enjoy the break! As always, The Watershed welcomes your thoughts. We invite site members to comment below, or readers to email us at editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca




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