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Council In Focus

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

October 17, 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. Financial Officer* Joe Chirkoff sat in the gallery, and joined the table during staff discussions.


On a dark and stormy night, the meeting drew three residents in person, while 16 joined online.


Mayor Berry noted there was nothing to report out of the closed portion of the meeting, and put forward the agenda for adoption, which was adopted (in the end) without amendment.


Public Participation:

For the first time this session, a clock appeared onscreen, indicating a two minute limit for each speaker. However, once the two minute limit was reached, the clock reset and the speakers (both present in person and possibly unaware of the new clock) carried on, regardless.

  • Farrah Azgordegan asked what decisions have been made with regard to the parking committee. She has said her issues with the Lower Kelvin Grove parking lot have been outstanding for the past eighteen years. CAO Blackwell responded that an answer is in the works with regard to next steps. He further stated that appearing in person at every meeting is not the most effective way of moving an issue forward, and suggested she speak to staff directly, henceforth.

  • In his eighth appearance in recent months, Kambiz Azgordegan repeated his question about the removal of signs from the Kelvin Grove parking lot. Berry replied that Azgordegan had exceeded the time limit, and that staff will set up a meeting with him in the near future to hear his concerns.

Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:


The minutes from the regular Council meeting held October 3 (found on Page 4 of a markedly concise agenda package) were adopted.

(*Editor's Note: This meeting's agenda indicates that Council did in fact report out after the second closed portion of the evening, though this was not made available as a part of the evening's video recording. The report noted that, in a divided decision, Council has appointed Joe Chirkoff as Financial Officer.)


Unfinished Business:

  • Councillor Broughton continues to work on the issue of stop signs at village rail crossings, and said that while in Vancouver, he spotted a rail crossing with lights and a stop sign in Vancouver, which he documented. He promised to bring a motion forward at the next meeting addressing the subject.

  • Public Works Manager Buhr reported that the 325 Bayview Bridge is nearing completion, and will likely be complete within two weeks. He said that the remaining timbers have arrived and once they are installed, along with some clean-up and shoring, a final inspection is expected. Repairs will them be made to the two bridges on Lions Bay Avenue. One of these, over Harvey Creek, has been deemed to be "slumping" but a fix has been planned.

  • Blackwell said he has a number of projects pending, including his review of the best practices for Correspondence and Communication Policies, and the Village Update (VU) policy. He said he's hoping to have a draft of the Procurement Policy, for the next meeting, and that his work with regard to both the audit and the annual report is still in progress. He added that he will be circulating material on the climate action initiative, and will provide an answer to Council in the next day or so. Abbott asked to have the information before the next Climate Action Committee meeting, and Blackwell agreed.

  • Council agreed to call an Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) to review the evacuation plan/brochure.


Staff Reports:

  • Buhr offered a report detailing a fairly complex analysis of the costs and benefits of using renewable diesel (Page 6). He noted that due to an inadvertent delivery of R100 diesel in July, the Village has been using the product since, at no additional cost, and with "no noticeable impact". He concluded that at a 65% net reduction, "the municipality is realistically saving 4,860 kilograms a year of carbon-dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas". The downside, he noted, is that renewable diesel gels at zero degrees, and therefore is not useable in furnaces in winter. However it is being used in the Public Works trucks and machines. Some discussion arose as to the viability of the diesel furnace, and Buhr noted that an electric heat pump would ultimately be the best solution. The report was received.

  • Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff submitted the Accounts Payable (AP) cheque listing (Page 11) report for Council's review. Chirkoff noted that the Village's AP is currently about $200,000, and currently has $7 million in the bank. He reiterated that at each month-end meeting he will offer a budgeting summary, and said he feels that in light of the fact that no large projects (beyond the Klatt Building) are lined up in the next three months, he feels the budget is currently sound. Discussion arose regarding a few specific line items, void cheques, overpayment of taxes leading to possible overpayment to Translink, and the value of one or more council members attending UBCM in future years. To this point, Blackwell strongly recommended that members of council attend future meetings of the UBCM in order to meet ministers to address specific concerns. He said other municipalities strategize ahead of time as to who to meet, and what issues need addressing, and added that staff will be putting forward budget recommendations with regard to such opportunities. Discussion arose regarding classes taken by staff, to which Chirkoff said $7,000 had been spent from a $10,000 budget. Blackwell noted that Councillors should feel free to ask staff specific questions whenever needed, and were not required to wait for a council meeting. The report was received.


Council's Reports:

  • Councillor Reuter presented his report regarding the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT). He noted that senior residents will be the most impacted by this tax. He said that the SVT was meant to focus on urban areas, whereas Lions Bay has been recognized as a rural community. He also noted a failure to consult, as stipulated in the act, and some ambiguity as to the application of the SVT. He presented his written report on his findings (Page 11), and after consulting with local MLA Jordan Sturdy, brought forward a motion asking that Council seek an exemption from the SVT. There was some discussion as to the wording, and possible exemptions for seasonal residents or snowbirds before the motion passed unanimously.

  • Broughton provided an outline (Page 20) to council of the history of the Lions Bay Beach Park to document the process of asking for Request for Proposals (RFP). Broughton says that members of the committee would like to meet with Council in a closed meeting to present information and entertain Council's questions. Councillor Abbott commented that his concerns were not with the decisions made by the committee, but with the procedure that followed. Blackwell clarified that PWM Buhr will oversee the collection of all the documents associated with the project.

Correspondence:


The list of correspondence begins on Page 23 of the agenda package. Councillor Cunliffe continues to be in charge of responses.

  • General correspondence came from William Zarchikoff, offering workshops on ending homelessness. (Page 23).

  • Vance White, consultant for the Department of Defence, provided information about the Veteran's Week speaker's program.


Resident correspondence begins on Page 28 of the agenda package.

  • Andrea Bradshaw wrote of her concern that the new guest passes no longer allow guests to park in pay areas (apart from the lots), and that the passes should over-ride the pay parking, as resident permits do. (Page 28). Abbott noted that Bradshaw is correct in her assessment.

  • Christine Livingstone wrote to ask for a response to her June request that Council support rain barrel usage in the village. (Page 29). Abbott suggested the Climate Action committee take this on.

  • Norma Rodgers expressed her concern about the inconsistency of Council in replying to residents' questions, and asked that they communicate a clear policy. (Page 30). With Blackwell's best practices on the subject forthcoming, discussion arose as to what is to be done to assure a consistent response, and not just to those Cunliffe termed 'squeaky wheels'. Blackwell said that the existing communication policy is problematic, and there is always a risk of liability when off-the-cuff conversations happen with residents. "Council is a quasi-judiciary body, so there's a duty of care that's owed to anybody when it comes to anything that comes from Council." He says he plans to circulate suggestions for best practices to council members before the next meeting to try to find a consensus for a workable system. Reuter made a plea for erring on the side of messiness, as "democracy is messy." Blackwell noted that the business of council needs to take precedent. Berry said that after a year of messiness, he'd like to see a streamlined process be put in place for the village.

  • Former mayor Brenda Broughton invited Council to attend Remembrance Day services on November 11. (Page 31).

The correspondence was received as read.


New Business:

Blackwell requested a resolution for an expenditure for flowers, which will be covered by a grant, for Remembrance Day. The motion passed unanimously.


Public Questions and Comments:

  • In person, Deirdre Bain offered a few brief words of appreciation to Council.

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


The next meeting will take place November 7, 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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Thank you, again, Karen for your objective reporting on the meetings of our Village Council.

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