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Council In Focus

A brief* recap of Council meetings, as viewed from the gallery


September 5, 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, Marcus Reuter and Michael Broughton, and Acting Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov. Joining online was Building Inspector Dave Butler. Acting Public Works Manager Karl Buhr sat in the gallery throughout proceedings.


The first regular council session since the August break (which still held seven special council meetings), saw 31 residents attending online and six in the gallery.


Before approving the agenda, Mayor Ken Berry reported out of the closed portion of the meeting that the Village of Lions Bay has signed a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). Council did not announce the identity of the new hire at the meeting, but stated that the individual will be named in the coming week. Councillor Michael Broughton indicated the CAO's starting date will be September 18. After some discussion of agenda items, including the Mayor adding motions regarding the reopening of village parking and trailheads, and FireSmart safety actions, the agenda was adopted.


Public Participation:

  • Kambiz Azordegan , speaking in person, suggested striking a parking committee in order to bring resident parking concerns to Council. He also asked that missing parking signage be returned when the parking lots re-open.

  • Resident Mary McLaughlin speaking online, addressed Mayor Berry regarding his past comments regarding interest revenue. McLaughlin, an accountant, referenced Berry's statement in the February 17 Village Update that village investments had been underperforming by a rate of "$7,000-$8,000 per month." McLaughlin then pointed to the mayor's comments April 28 Village Update, stating that Controller Joe Chirkoff confirmed an additional $100,000 revenue in the budget, due to higher interest rates. However, after reading through 2023 preliminary budget, McLaughlin said that the math doesn't add up, and that the actual difference totalled $40,000, much less than the stated $8,000 per month. McLaughlin added that the budget projection also benefited from significant interest rate increases, which didn’t occur until the end of the last council’s term. Further, she noted the recent $1 million infrastructure bonus from the BC government has also boosted the Village's treasury balance, which benefits from these higher rates. She asked that Berry publicly correct his over-statement of interest-earned revenue, as it is not borne out by a review of the financial statements presented to the public and approved by Council. She also noted that had the utility bills been sent out on time, the Village treasury would have been further bolstered and interest revenue would have also improved.

  • Online, David Shore addressed Councillor Marcus Reuter regarding comments he made at the last meeting, "regarding visiting hikers not being able to think their way out of a paper bag". Shore asked Reuter to offer an apology to the Mayor and council and to the residents of Lions Bay for his choice of words. After Reuter initially deferred his answer to a later time, Barry said that he'd "already made his comments public, and didn't support any disrespecting of the public or taxpayers." Councillor Neville Abbott said that all the councillors in chamber knew that the comment was not directed at hikers, and that it was clear that Reuter was referring to the people making threats online. Reuter then said that facts and context matter, and his comments had been clearly referring to emails and messages, many of which had been generated by a sub-group on Reddit, directing threats at specific councillors. "These messages contained Councillors' names and addresses, and there were calls for intimidation," he said, which required a police response. Reuter noted that what is lost in this dialogue is the majority of communications have been "overwhelmingly supportive." Broughton noted that it's dangerous to make disparaging comments at the council table, and asked that comments always be respectful.

Delegations:


Inspector Simon Gravel appeared on behalf of the Lower Mainland Conservation Officer Service (COS). Gravel cited his experience as a sergeant in the Sea to Sky zone for the last eight years, and began by apologizing to Council and residents that the level of engagement with the Village has fallen away. He said a few years with low bear conflict in Lions Bay meant that the Conservation authority's attention had been directed to other communities, but noted with the recent increase over the last few years, he felt it was important to re-engage. He began by explaining the roles and responsibilities of the COS, noting that the Sea to Sky is one of the busiest zones, and currently has five Conservation Officers (CO) on duty. He said the COs are very busy, enforcing the Wildlife Act and the Environmental Management Act, as well as maintaining public safety related to wildlife. Years ago the COS engaged with Bear Smart to work together toward common goals, and he said it's important to work with elected members, staff and residents. He added they want to avoid killing wildlife because of human negligence. To that end, he offered three recommendations:

  1. Have a bear advisory committee, a working group that reports to Council which represents stakeholders in the community. This group would discuss issues, share knowledge and provide recommendations to council to proactively reduce human/wildlife conflict in the community.

  2. Create a bear response plan. He suggests working together to create a communication document that informs residents of everyone's roles and responsibilities when dealing with bears. He noted that Whistler has one of these plans in place.

  3. Use a Lions Bay official publication to clearly outline reporting best practices. He made a distinction between sightings and issues of public safety. He said the goal is early intervention, and that it's important the COS is involved from the beginning.

Gravel said that if these suggestions are implemented, it will help the COS further build trust for public safety and wildlife health. He offered to share Whistler's document as a template. In response to a question from Councillor Jaime Cunliffe, he agreed that the difference between a sighting and dangerous interaction is often perception. He made the distinction between a bear walking through private property versus a bear which is bluff charging, or near school when kids are outside, or causing property damage. In these cases he says it is better to have COS intervention. Abbott, who is himself a part of Lions Bay Bear Smart, asked that COS engage by being present at Lions Bay Bear Smart meetings, and said this was a step to getting things back on track.


Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:

After discussion and a few minor changes, Regular Council meeting minutes from January 17, January 31 and July 18, 2023 were all approved. Special Council meeting minutes from February 24, March 24, August 3, August 10, August 12, August 13, August 22, and August 29, 2023 were also approved (Copies of minutes can be found on pages 5-55 of the agenda package). The minutes from Special Meeting on July 26 led to some discussion of how garbage audits are handled in different regions of the community, and an acknowledgement that clear communication with residents needs to take place prior to any future audits.


Discussion also took place over the wording of the motion during the Special Meeting on August 18, with regard to the reopening of the trailheads and parking. Cunliffe stated she misheard the wording due to attending online, but when she tried to clarify, the vote had already taken place. She expressed concern that this led to misinformation being given to the media regarding the reopening of the trailheads and parking.

Ultimately, all the minutes were approved.


Business Arising from the Minutes:

Annual Report: This report was due back in June, but no information was forthcoming. Abbott suggested that he had sent suggestions to advisor Randy Diehl, and reminded Council that the report is late. Reuter asked that a copy of the report be sent to Councillors to read through well in advance of the meeting where it would be discussed, and the topic was moved to Unfinished Business.


Unfinished Business:


  • Reuter said he continues to follow up with the Ministry regarding the Vacancy Tax. He will prepare a position paper to get Council support for a resolution that Lions Bay be excluded from this tax, and will bring to Council when it is complete.

  • With regard to the stop signs at Village rail crossings, Broughton said he has met with CN and has contacted Transport Canada to find a time to meet onsite. Public Works Manager Buhr said that he has not heard from any of the parties. Broughton added that lights and a stop sign co-exist at the 17th and Bellevue rail crossing in West Vancouver. Cunliffe also reported witnessing a close call at a Lions Bay crossing.

  • The Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund application was submitted on time in July. Buhr says that since the application was submitted, he has heard nothing. He noted that application number was 2884.

  • Berry proposed a motion to appoint the Fire Chief or his representative to provide staff with Fire Smart initiatives. After discussion and a friendly amendment adding that the Chief work in conjunction with the Emergency Program Committee (EPC), the motion passed.

  • Buhr said that his updated report on diesel usage is ongoing, but is not a high priority, and he will report back to Council.

  • Council agreed to bring back the Procurement Policy for review.

  • Buhr gave a report on the progress of the Bayview Bridge, noting that large equipment will be moved in, a new trailer is in use, and traffic lights will be required to control a lane closure.

  • Former advisor Deanna Campbell's research into best practices for Correspondence and Communication Policies will now be referred to the new CAO.


Council's Reports:

  • Abbott gave an update with regard to the Infrastructure Committee. He asked that the Terms of Reference of the Infrastructure Committee be approved, and committee members be introduced. There was discussion regarding the specific terms of reference as noted in the document, and the motion carried.

  • With regard to the long-delayed Klatt Building Renovation Project, Buhr reminded Council that the Village is required by the Ministry to have evidence that substantial construction has taken place before September 30. Buhr noted that no work is currently taking place, and that there is a risk of losing this 100% grant, and perhaps even having to return the $40,000 already spent. After extensive discussion as to why this job has ground to a halt, Building Inspector Dave Butler, who was present online, said he issued a permit in November last year, but since then no action has been taken and the permit has expired. Buhr reminded Council that plans need to be in place before a permit can be issued. After extensive discussion, the Mayor promised to get the stakeholders together to get the project back on track.


Beach Park Committee Update:


Broughton said a meeting is upcoming and more information will be available soon.


Emergency Services:

  • RCMP report for May and June, 2023 (found on page 62) was received. This comprised 74 calls for service, 48 of which took place on the Sea to Sky Highway. The remaining calls included a residential break and enter, two thefts and a mischief under $5,000, one theft over $5,000, three disturbance calls, one breach of peace and one trespass, three stranded people, two false alarms, an abandoned vehicle, one animal call, and one unspecified assist. There were also three suspicious persons, an assault, and three harassing communications investigated, along with a single call pertaining to the Coroner's Act.


Resolutions:

  • Councillor Broughton made a motion that current restrictions to the Communications Policy be removed, specifically with regard to Mayor and Council's unapproved messages in the Village Update. (See page 4 of the agenda package for the full text of this motion.) After much discussion, in which Berry insisted the restrictions were designed to muzzle him, and Reuter pointed out that all councillors were subject to the same restrictions, namely that Council needs to approve any outgoing communications, the motion was defeated. Some hope was expressed that the new CAO will address communications in the village.

  • Council granted an exception to Noise Bylaw No. 283, 1998 to allow for events taking place on October 22, November 25, December 16, and December 23, 2023, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. in each case.

Correspondence:


The list of Correspondence begins on page 64 of the agenda package. This quarter, Councillor Cunliffe will be in charge of responses.

  • General correspondence came from Hilary Thomas, regarding the province's NDP party (page 65).

  • Cindy Webb, Corporate Officer of the Township of Township of Spallumcheen wrote regarding recycling used antifreeze and oil containers (page 66).

  • Lynsay Pacey, corporate officer of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) wrote with Information on the Next Generation 911 application (page 67).

  • Keith Atkinson, Chair of the BC Forest Practices Board wrote about a recent report Forest and Fire Management in BC (page 72).

  • Deirdre Syms, BC Epilepsy Society, wrote requesting a proclamation regarding Purple Day for Epilepsy awareness (page 73).

  • Miranda wrote with her plans to flout restrictions on trail usage (page 76).

  • Paul, who chose to write anonymously but said he was a member of local government, wrote regarding his support for trailhead closures, and wildfire threat (page 77). Reuter drew attention to this letter, as well as letters from Teresa Branvold and Andrea Bradshaw, below, noting the support for Council's decision, and that lifting parking restrictions needs to take drought conditions into account as well as temperature.

  • My Sea to Sky wrote regarding Woodfibre LNG's Wastewater Discharge Authorization (page 79).


Resident correspondence begins on page 81 of the agenda package.

  • Teresa Brandvold wrote reminding Council of MLA Bowinn Ma's declaration that BC is in the worst drought ever recorded (page 81).

  • Eunmi Smith wrote regarding a bear incident at the store, with accompanying photos (page 82). Abbott drew attention to the photos in this letter, and identified the bear as one that was later killed, and noted that the bear was initially attracted by an unsecured garbage can.

  • Carol Brien wrote regarding non-residents not paying for parking at Kelvin Grove Beach (page 88).

  • Simon Wong, a project manager for one of the Village houses currently under construction, wrote regarding the status of building inspection in the village (page 91). Reuter noted that building inspections are moving forward once again with Building Inspector Dave Butler on the job.

  • Norma Rodgers wrote in response to Justin Brimacombe's letter, with a history of Bear Smart in the Village (page 92). Abbott encouraged everyone, councillors and residents, to read this excellent history. Rodgers also wrote with her regard to concerns about the current Finance Committee operations (page 104). And finally, she wrote to request an update from the Finance Committee (page 109).

  • Kelly Taylor wrote an appeal to Council to take a stand against the LNG project at McNab Creek (page 94).

  • Susan Davis wrote to ask that a movie permit for over Labour Day weekend be denied. (page 99).

  • Ian Mackie wrote of his concern regarding the wildfire risk the Village is facing (page 100).

  • Mark Shelnitz wrote regarding the potential creation of a trail between Kelvin Grove Way and Panorama Place (page 102).

  • Trudy Luethy wrote a letter of appreciation regarding Village Office staff (page 105).

  • Ruth Simons wrote with regard to the upcoming Howe Sound Community Forum, and the work of Átl'ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region Roundtable (page 106).

  • Andrea Bradshaw wrote applauding Council for the decision to close parking due to wildfire danger (page 108).

The correspondence was received as read.

New Business:

  • Berry offered a motion to reopen Village parking. Abbott noted that he brought forward the idea of revisiting this closure, but that as nothing has substantially changed in terms of rainfall or drought conditions, he would vote against reopening. Reuter and Cunliffe echoed this and asked that the closure be revisited at the next meeting. Broughton said that he didn't support Council making this decision, and Berry said he deferred to the experts who felt closure wasn't warranted. The motion was defeated three votes to two.


After just over two and a half hours, no further comments were offered from the public gallery and the meeting adjourned.


*used in the relative sense


The next meeting will take place September 19, with the public portion of the meeting to begin at 7 p.m. As always, The Watershed welcomes your thoughts. Leave your comments below, or email us at editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca

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I was surprised that the 2022 audit was still not on the agenda for Tuesday night. The annual report, which is mainly a financial report, is based on the audit. The provincially-set deadline for the annual report is June 30th.

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Norm B
Norm B
Sep 07, 2023

It’s disappointing to learn that the Klatt building grant of $500,000 is in jeopardy. These funds were a 100% grant, free money to improve vital infrastructure.

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Gregan Dunn
Gregan Dunn
Sep 07, 2023

Thanks for this KC.

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Thanks for the great summary. I’m disappointed that the council still hasn’t lifted the parking restrictions for hikers and beach goers. I’m embarrassed that we have signs in the Village referring to the wildfire risk as ”extreme” when the BC Wildfire Service has downgraded the risk to “moderate.” I respect that many residents were genuinely worried about fires 2 weeks ago when the restrictions were introduced but that risk has significantly diminished now and I hope we’ll take the advice of our fire chief and welcome hikers back to the Village as soon as possible. The slugs are back on the trails - let’s get people back on them too. And moving forward, let’s take real action to address some…

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Great job of reporting!

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