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Council In Focus

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


October 3, 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, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ross Blackwell and Acting Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov. Acting Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr sat in the gallery throughout proceedings. Controller Joe Chirkoff sat in the gallery, and joined the table during discussion about audits and the annual reports.


On this clear fall evening, the meeting drew three residents in person, and a further 17 online.


After noting there was nothing to report out of the closed portion of the meeting, Mayor Ken Berry moved the agenda be adopted. Councillor Cunliffe expressed concern about the number of verbal reports, and as a result, several items were struck. The agenda was adopted as amended.



Public Participation:


  • Kambiz Azgordegan stepped to the podium to thank Councillor Broughton for forwarding his email regarding a suggestion to create a Parking Committee. He opened what he called a 'consideration umbrella', under which he insisted good decisions could be made.


Delegation:


  • Farrah Azgordegan stepped up to the podium to discuss issues from Lower Kelvin Grove. She expressed concern that signs indicating parking hours and other instructions to visitors have been removed. She said she had received a written response from PWM Buhr (which can be read on page 61 of the agenda package), but was unhappy with his response. She said the presence of signs indicates that the Village has laws, and disagrees with Public Works' policy to remove signs. She reminded Council that power should rest with constituents, and Council should act to further constituents' wishes, and asked for a Council response. Mayor Berry noted he'd put the topic of the Parking Committee on the agenda, but it was among the items voted off. Cunliffe said that all committee issues, including the formation of a Parking Committee, would be addressed more robustly within an upcoming strategy session.


Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:


After a few small corrections in wording, minutes from the regular Council meeting held September 19 (found on Page 7 of the agenda package) were adopted as amended.


Unfinished Business:


  • With regard to the vacancy tax, Reuter said he has an informational draft on his desk that he hopes to have before Council by the next meeting. He added that the issue is complex, involving several levels of government.

  • Broughton addressed the issue of stop signs at village rail crossings, noting the final decision rests not with CN but with Transport Canada. He plans to arrange a meeting soon. Cunliffe said she'd noticed the 'truck train' driving through a crossing without activating the lights. When Broughton addressed this concern with CN, he was told the truck operators should be able to activate the lights remotely. Cunliffe noted this is akin to running a red light, so this remains a topic of concern.

  • Public Works Manager Karl Buhr said he has done no further work on the diesel question, but will bring the information back to Council.

  • Buhr reported the wood for the Bayview Bridge is on order, and once the timbers are in place, there are a few small items to take care of before the scaffolding can come down. He reminded the CAO that he will have to negotiate the transfer of the bridge to the homeowner. Cunliffe asked if the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) needs to be involved in this negotiation, but Buhr said that since the abutments remain the same, MOTI has declined to take a role.

  • Blackwell says his review of the best practices for Correspondence and Communication Policies, along with the Village Update (VU) policy is ongoing.

  • Blackwell says a draft in preparation of the Procurement Policy, is still ongoing.

  • Controller Joe Chirkoff presented information with regard to both the audit and the annual report. Chirkoff informed Council that the auditor requires all the minutes up to the present before the audit can be presented. Blackwell noted that Council had long missed the drop-dead due date for the Audit, which was back in June, and so they must bow to the wishes of the auditor for this "bizarre" request. Abbott put a motion forward that the CAO receive and bring to Council all the closed meeting minutes, in order to pass them on to the auditor. The motion carried.

  • Blackwell is continuing his work on a cost-benefit analysis on document storage options.

  • Council is awaiting input from the Emergency Committee before reviewing the evacuation plan/brochure.

  • Blackwell will consult with staff to determine time needed for the climate action initiative, and will provide an answer to Council.

Staff Reports:

  • Controller Joe Chirkoff gave a quick review of the budget, tracking where expenditures stand compared to plans. Chirkoff said this is a snapshot as of June 30. He reported expenditures being on track with budget plans for the most part, and this looks to hold through to year's end, based on current projections. were Abbott raised several discussion points including the ongoing digitization process, that has not taken place this year, to which Blackwell replied that there are a number of related outstanding organizational issues that Council will have to address. Abbott suggested the wording of several notes required correction, and Chirkoff said he would clarify. Blackwell noted that an inordinate amount of staff time was devoted to operating a parking service over the summer, and other jobs remained unfinished as a result. Buhr commented that the fact that Public Works budget was down reflected that staffing is down by two workers, and is therefore not a good thing. Buhr also noted the final numbers for Bayview Bridge will come in over $500,000. Chirkoff said that he plans to clean up the incomplete or incorrect notes, and will henceforth be reporting monthly on the budget, which should speed the process somewhat. Following prompting from Blackwell, Chirkoff outlined forthcoming budget plans, which include presenting information to Council by the end of October regarding the 2024 budget. Chirkoff explained that after input from various departments, and a review by CAO, the plan is to have the budget for 2024 ready to go by the end of January. Blackwell added that staff will generate a report outlining this process, along with room for public input, with the goals being to make the process as transparent and predictable as possible.

  • Buhr reported the Klatt Building project officially kicked off on September 28, and he is positive about the project completing before the deadline at the end of 2024. Buhr told Abbott he was confident they would not exceed the cap on design fees.


Council's Reports:


  • Broughton gave a verbal update with regard to Lions Bay Beach Park, noting the committee has worked through three requests for proposals (RFP), and saying a formal report will be available at the next meeting, with plans for an open house in November. Abbott asked to see the RFPs, and clarified that Councillors have seen one proposal and no RFPs. He said he is unwilling to approve a project sight unseen, and Broughton said he will forward the material. Reuter led some discussion about an earlier plan to hold a 'Have Your Say' event for the public, which didn't materialize. Both Cunliffe and Broughton felt there had been extensive consultation on the project.

  • Broughton attended this year's Union of BC Municipalities convention (UBCM) and encouraged councillors to attend next year's event in Whistler. He said he will distribute information he's received. Blackwell added that of all the governmental events available, the UBCM has the greatest potential for Council. He suggested that conference attendance fees, accommodation and so on are not cheap, and are worthy of budgeting consideration. He further suggested Council should think strategically, and prioritize booking ministerial meetings that could prove valuable.

  • Berry noted that Council has handed the updating the Village Evacuation Plan to the Emergency Planning Committee.


Committee Reports:

  • Abbott relayed the Climate Action Committee's request with regard to using R100 Diesel for heating the Village Hall, which might help make a climate goal. He said they continue to work on getting the hall a heat pump system. Buhr said he will follow up. Abbott also asked for staff support for the CAC survey, and Blackwell agreed to respond by email. Finally, Abbott made a motion that Council approve the updated CAC terms of reference, and the motion carried.

  • The Emergency Services RCMP report for July and August, 2023 (found on page 44) was received. This comprised 89 calls for service, 51 of which took place on the Sea to Sky Highway, within the boundaries of the Village. Of these, 36 were moving violations, plus one collision with damage of over $10,000 and two with damage less than that. There was one impaired driving investigation and one non-fatal accident, two unspecified assists, a suspicious person or vehicle, and an abandoned vehicle. There were three specific accident-prevention instances, one assault, one theft from a vehicle and one well-being check.

  • The remaining 38 calls for service within the village included a theft of mail, one instance of causing a disturbance, four well-being checks and a call with regard to the Mental Health Act. There were two instances of mischief under $5,000, two false alarms called in to 911, two lost and found calls, ten stranded people, six animal calls and four unspecified assists. There were also two nuisance danger to life/injury calls, a suspicious person or vehicle, one person uttering threats, and a single report with regard to the Wildfire Act.


Correspondence:


The list of correspondence begins on Page 46 of the agenda package. This quarter, Councillor Cunliffe is in charge of responses.


  • General correspondence came from Beth Rochester of the Daily Hive asking for confirmation of trailheads reopening. (Page 47).

  • Ruth Davis of North Cowachin (and others) wrote of legalizing aquamation, a lower-emission form of cremation also known as alkaline hydrolysis. (Page 48). Cunliffe said she'd like to bring back a motion in support of this initiative, and Council agreed to address it when she does.

  • The Honourable Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development wrote in celebration of Foster Family Month (page 50).

  • Cathy Peters and the Anti Human Trafficking Initiative organization wrote to thank council members who attended her booth at the UBCM (Page 52).


Resident correspondence begins on Page 53 of the agenda package. Cunliffe noted that the new CAO has suggested a revision to the procedures bylaw. Blackwell said that while it's important that the community receive all the information they ask for and that Council be able to receive information from the community, he would like to address the structure around letter-writing and public input sessions. He suggested one common practice where letters are provided to council, and that council can bring forward to the table any specific letters that they want to address. He will bring these and other suggestions forward in a report for council's consideration, in a bid to optimize communication between Council and the community.

  • Penny Nelson wrote about agenda package inaccuracies regarding the Evacuation Brochure (Page 53).

  • Byron Montgomery wrote to express his objection to bylaw enforcement with "an accompanied wildlife consultant" on private property (Page 55).

  • Ekkehard Goetting expressed his concern about speeding on the highway, referencing a recent multi-vehicle accident on the Sea to Sky (Page 56).

  • Ian Mackie offered his thoughts regarding comments made prior to the Village parking closure, and the risks to Lions Bay's watershed (Page 57).

  • Gail Craig wrote of her objections to media grandstanding and inaccurate messaging, and asked for a response from councillors (page 58).

  • Norma Rodgers wrote to express her concerns about contamination of the Lions Bay watershed (Page 59).

Responses to resident questions or correspondence included:

  • a note from Broughton to Kambiz Azgordegan regarding the latter's request for the formation of a parking committee (page 60).

  • A detailed letter to Kambiz Azgordegan from PWM Buhr providing a staff response to the former's questions about parking in Lower Kelvin Grove (page 61).

The correspondence was received as read.


Public Questions and Comments:


  • Online, resident Tanya Cosgrave noted there are parking issues throughout the Village, and offered her services to help get the committee underway.


No further comments were offered from the public gallery so the open portion of the meeting adjourned.

The next meeting will take place October 17, 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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Norma Rodgers
Norma Rodgers
Oct 05, 2023

Thanks kc for filling in some blanks about the meeting. I rely on your factual and journalistic summary.

There was nuance beyond the facts. Controller Chirkoff failed to complete the audit in time and the penalty is providing current financial records to date of submission. He has been unable to comply so Councillor Abbott directed CAO Blackwell to compile and submit.

Mayor Berry's appointed financial controller is receiving a generous salary to miss important financial deadlines and fail to explain his accounts. We need a municipally experienced CFO to sort out this mess.

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