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Council In Focus

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


November 7, 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, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ross Blackwell and Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov. Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr and Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff sat in the gallery, and joined the table during staff discussions. Councillor Marcus Reuter joined via Zoom.


On this first dark Tuesday night after the switch to standard time, the meeting drew six residents in person (including delegation members), with 24 joining online.


Mayor Berry began by noting there was nothing to report out of the closed portion of the meeting, adding that Council planned to resume the closed portion after the conclusion of the current meeting. He then put forward a mammoth 303 page agenda for adoption. Council was unable to initially agree on a number of elements of the agenda, and the first attempt to adopt was defeated, but after discussion and a second vote, the agenda passed as amended. Councillor Cunliffe asked CAO Blackwell for clarification of the status of the Finance Committee, and he said that his understanding was that the committee met the accepted standard.


In a switch in protocol, the delegation portion of the evening was moved forward to accommodate committee member Susan Davis, who was participating from a later time zone.


Delegation:


The Lions Bay Beach Park Advisory Committee (Page 7) was represented by Scott Gordon, Davis (Zooming in from Montreal), Kirsti Papas and David Lee. Committee members offered a summary of events over the past year. Davis noted that the committee is in need of Council support with regard to their tight timelines and budget.


Gordon gave a physical description of what the completed site will look like, including items such as playground equipment and washroom facilities, the latter having provided the biggest challenge of the process. He referenced a package of information the committee provided to Council, and which Councillor Broughton noted will shortly be found on the Village website.


Papas talked about starting the process of upgrading the playground by interviewing local kids, and using some of their ideas when the committee pulled together their proposal. After much research, she said they ended up with three Requests For Proposal (RFPs), with Habitat as the winning vendor. This is the same company that built the existing playground. She said the committee plans to bring the final playground recommendations and costs to the next council meeting.


Gordon noted that while some tree work will be required, this will include thinning only, as no removal of trees is necessary. He says the committee hopes the job can be handled by Public Works to keep costs down.


Lee spoke to the budget and grant money, and discussed the adoption of a construction management policy to break the project into smaller pieces, some of which led to a change in the existing procurement policy. He said that the final contract and the formulation of a plan to work with the trades are still outstanding, adding that the committee will bring information to Council as expediently as possible to ensure the project finishes on time. Davis concluded by offering a resolution that the committee hoped to work with Council and staff to complete the upgrade by Canada Day, 2024, which council endorsed. Because there is a confidential financial element, a special closed meeting to include committee members was scheduled November 9 to expedite the process.


Public Participation:

  • Long-time resident Greg Weary stepped forward to the podium to discuss his concern over the number of fires that occurred this year. Weary said that he has worked in watershed protection for more than 30 years. He noted that in both 2006 and 2020, Council brought in consultants to identify wildfire and geological risks. He said he read the reports which identified both elements of risk at moderate to high, and asked what has become of these recommendations. He added that Council has a golden opportunity to address these issues now. He asked council to review the consultants' reports and prioritize a list of recommendations. He also asked Council to hold a town hall before the next fire season to discuss mitigation of these risks. He suggested that groups like the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), BC Hydro, and CN appear to discuss fuel management within their rights of way, and also the effectiveness of rights of way as fire breaks. He said he'd also like to hear PWM Buhr weigh in on water availability within the village in the case of multiple fires; University of British Columbia (UBC) on their hydrology studies, and finally the Lions Bay Fire Chief to offer his expertise on mitigating fire risk to village homes,


Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:

The minutes from the regular Council meeting held October 17, 2023 (Page 8) were briefly discussed and adopted. Minutes from special Council meetings held on June 5 (page 12) and April 14 (page 14) were also adopted without amendments.


Unfinished Business:

For the first time this session, this portion of the agenda includes the dates which each item was first actioned, giving readers an idea of the length of time each project has taken.

  • Councillor Reuter asked that CAO Blackwell be added to the Vacancy Tax initiative, and that it should still be considered ongoing.

  • Broughton said his work with regard to the issue of stop signs at village rail crossings continues. His motion was scheduled for discussion later in the evening, but was ultimately postponed until the next meeting.

  • PWM Buhr reported that 325 Bayview Bridge has a few small construction elements remaining, but that he expects completion soon.

  • With regard to his review of the best practices for Correspondence and Communication Policies, CAO Blackwell said this is better dealt with in a different forum, in the near future.

  • He noted that the review of the Village Update (VU) policy is also ongoing.

  • Blackwell pointed out that a draft of the Procurement Policy (Page 46) appears later on the agenda.

  • Blackwell also addressed both the audit and the annual report, and said he continues to work with the auditor to provide minutes as required. He noted that approximately 15 sets of minutes are still outstanding, but said they are working toward completion of requirements. Blackwell added that the extraordinary detail required is a standard that the auditor is held to, and is not optional.

  • Blackwell noted that the cost-benefit analysis on document storage options is a low priority, and remains ongoing.

  • An Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) meeting to review the evacuation plan/brochure has not yet been set. Abbott asked the CAO to reach out to EPC Phil Folkersen to get a meeting set up.

  • Blackwell said the report on staff time with regard to the climate action initiative is complete.

  • He added that the Bylaw report on parking tickets and staff time has been partially dealt with, but remains ongoing.

  • The staff review of secondary suite revenues is also still ongoing. Abbott clarified that last year, Council passed a motion that suites that housed firefighters would not be charged utilities. Abbott noticed, when looking at the budget, that there was quite a discrepancy with regard to secondary suite revenue from the previous year. He then asked if this was related to the firefighters in the suites, but has not yet received a response from staff. Blackwell replied that he and Financial Officer Chirkoff would look into it and report back.

  • The budget report will be addressed later in the agenda.

  • Broughton noted that all the Lions Bay Beach Park documentation has been collected prior to the evening's presentation, and will be passed on to PWM Buhr shortly.

  • The possible purchase of rain barrels has been delegated to the Climate Action Committee (CAC), which has not yet met, so remains ongoing.


Staff Reports:

  • Chirkoff offered a proposed 2024 Budget Calendar (Page 17) to Council. Blackwell opened the discussion by summarizing the process. The accelerated process means a draft budget is scheduled to be provided to the public by December 19, to allow for resident comment. Resident feedback will also be collected via email at budget@lionsbay.ca. Blackwell noted that the timeline has been accelerated this year, because of the budget delays in 2023, and that in the future the process should be begun in August. He also said that a strategic planning session held next year will assist the shaping of the budget in 2025. After several councillors expressed concern about the speed of the process and the fact that feedback is being requested over the busy holiday season, it was decided that members will provide feedback to staff on the dates, and the calendar would then be brought back before Council.

  • Chirkoff presented the current Budget, (beginning on Page 19). In the interest of time, Berry asked Council to offer questions to Chirkoff, rather than doing an oral review at the council table. It was decided that another meeting be held to address questions that Abbott, in particular, has regarding changes that were not made when he commented last year.

  • Chirkoff offered draft copies of a General Purchasing Policy and Corporate Credit Card Policy (page 46), and recommended they be approved subject to Council feedback. Blackwell agreed to address outstanding questions and offer a final review to Council members by Friday.

  • Similarly, Chirkoff brought forward a Travel Expense Policy (Page 85), which he said was structured according to best practices, with a consistent reporting format across departments for recording receipts. After discussion, this was approved by Council.

  • It was agreed to defer CAO Blackwell's draft Corporate Communications Policy (Page 91) to the end of the agenda. (This was ultimately not addressed, due to the length of the meeting, and will therefore be among the items moved to the next meeting's agenda.)

  • Blackwell's updates to the 2023 Council Calendar (Page 100), were similarly deferred.

  • PWM Buhr brought forward a draft of the Lions Bay Connector Project (Page 106). He said that a decision has to be made tonight, as Translink is awaiting a response. He explained that if Council elects not to proceed, 75% of the money already spent must be returned. He added that Translink has offered a project manager, and a re-scoping (reconsideration) of the existing plans is still possible. Abbott noted that the costs of the project as it stands may well be $250-300,000. Reuter clarified that the cost of walking away from the project is currently $12,000. Berry said he would support further community consultation. After discussion, Council voted to direct staff to rescope the project and move forward.

  • Buhr then asked Council to direct staff to approve the Wayfinding signage. Beginning on page 144, this is a further Translink initiative, in addition to the Connector Project. These signs will guide visitors around the village, subject to public consultation. Translink will again pay 75% of the $15,000 cost. After a number of concerns were expressed and addressed, the motion passed.

  • Buhr then brought forward the 2023 Annual Water Report (Page 149). He recommended that Council study the report in some detail, particularly the sections that deal with strategic water supply, as these items will arise in the upcoming budget. He drew Council attention to Lions Bay's increasing water consumption, due to massive leakage. He said the only solution to the problem is replacing the watermains, which will cost more than $3 million. When the mayor mooted the idea of exploring well water as an option, Buhr pointed out that the issue is not supply, but distribution of water. He said that since he has no reason to believe residents are using water in a different way, his estimate is that we are leaking up to half the actual volume of village water at present. He added that the highway tank will also require replacement next year. After discussion, Council directed staff to add the report to the Village website. ,


Committee Reports:

  • Board of Variance: Minutes from meetings on February 8 and August 30 were received for information (Pages 221-223).

  • The Trees, View and Landscape Committee recommended Council approve a tree cutting application (#129, as seen on page 226) at 340 Kelvin Grove Way, subject to a number of specifications; and that Council approve tree cutting application #126 at 395 Bayview Place (Page 241), also subject to specifications. Reuter and Abbott asked to see minutes of the meeting, which were not provided, and Abbott noted that once again, the committee didn't note whether the tree is of significant size. After much discussion Council approved both applications.

(At this point in the meeting the audio failed, so there was a short break until it was restored.)

  • Broughton noted there is a single-page summary in the agenda (Page 262) with regard to Lions Bay Beach Park Committee, and reiterated that the report given this evening will be also made available online.


Emergency Services Reports:

  • Fire Chief Barret Germscheid was not present in person, but sent in a report asking that Council support FireSmart Community Funding and a UBCM-CRI Grant Application (Page 263). Abbott noted that the Village has already applied for and received this grant. After discussion, Council agreed to receive the report and authorized Frontera Solutions to submit the Grant application on behalf of the Village.


Mayor's Report:

  • Mayor Berry offered his year-end report, which was distributed at the table, but not included in the agenda. It was received for information.

  • Berry then offered a Finance Committee update for information (Page 265). Reuter once again expressed his concern regarding the legitimacy of the committee, and a heated discussion arose on topics ranging from standing committees, the banking controls that were previously in place, and the Finance Committee's response to a resident's question.

  • Berry suggested holding a townhall with respect to forming parking and highway-noise task forces. Councillors Cunliffe, Abbott and Reuter asked that these decisions take place as a part of the Committee Of The Whole meeting, however the mayor stated it is his prerogative to call a task force.


Council's Reports:

  • Together, Berry and Councillor Broughton addressed the Howe Sound Community Forum meeting held in Whistler on October 13, and offered a report to be received for information (page 268). Broughton encouraged councillors to attend the next meeting in West Vancouver in the spring of 2024.

  • Councillor Abbott brought forward information regarding the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database (CPCAD) (page 269), and asked that staff sign the attached consent form, and Council support the BC Nature team to assess Village participation in the CPCAD. Berry moved that the item be referred back to staff, but in the end, Council voted to support the project.

As the meeting approached its 3.5 hour maximum time limit, a special meeting was called for November 9 at 6 p.m. to address Lions Bay Beach Park issues, and after discussion, it was decided that the remaining issues on tonight's agenda will be addressed at the next regular Council meeting.


*as brief as possible with an agenda this size...



The next meeting will take place November 21, 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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