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Council In Focus

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



December 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, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ross Blackwell and Acting Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov. Acting Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr and Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff sat in the gallery, and joined the table during staff discussions.


Despite the latest atmospheric river, seven stalwart residents attended this final Council meeting of 2023 in person, several of whom were designated speakers. A further 18 joined online.


Reporting out of the earlier closed meeting, the Mayor said that Council has resolved to approve the 2022 audited financial statements. Mayor Berry then presented the evening's agenda for adoption, with an associated package clocking in at a hefty 151 pages. After some debate, the agenda was adopted with substantive amendments, including a procedural order change to accommodate speakers.


Public Participation:


  • Lions Bay resident Mike Porter asked that Council recognize a number of volunteers who had recently stepped down from the Lions Bay Historical Society (LBHS). He asked residents to thank these members for their service including Arlene Holstrom, Christine Silzer, Trudi Luethy, and Wendy Mair.

  • Former village mayor Doug Pollock stepped forward to remind council members that they are elected to serve the residents of Lions Bay, and noted that in his opinion, this is not happening. He pointed out that compromise is important, and if we don't move forward and get things done, it is everyone's failure. He suggested that personal agendas be set aside so that council can concentrate on the job at hand.

  • Former village councillor, Fred Bain referred to this evening's agenda, and the recommendation "that all operational authority granted by Council Resolution be rescinded and that full operational authority be granted to the Chief Administrative Officer." Bain expressed his concern that this recommendation is contrary to the Community Charter. CAO Ross Blackwell responded that the resolution in question granted temporary authority to the acting CAO, and now that a permanent CAO had been put in place, authority must revert. He added that within the village, council acts at the executive level, and staff at the operational level, and that this change rests at the operational level. Bain replied that final oversight of staff should rest with council. Mayor Berry clarified that this resolution was passed to allow the municipal coordinator to make operational decisions in the absence of a CAO, which will now be formally handed over to CAO Blackwell.

  • Online, Rebecca Caspersen said that in reviewing the agenda she was surprised to see no letters from residents, for the first time this council term. She asked if this is indeed the case, or were letters suppressed, and whether this would be the new normal. Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov said that one letter was received, reviewed by staff, and found not suitable for the agenda. Councillor Abbott noted that there were more letters, but that there was clearly a glitch in the process that needs to be fixed, as they were not forwarded to the office. Councillor Jaime Cunliffe clarified that resident correspondence will continue to be included in the agenda, and that there has been no change in policy.



Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:


The minutes from the regular Council meeting held November 21 (Page 5) were reviewed and adopted without amendment.


Business Arising from the Minutes:


  • Councillor Marcus Reuter questioned a new policy that notes the names of those who make and second a motion. Blackwell clarified that this notation is standard practice to ensure transparency and the integrity of minutes.

  • Abbott asked to see the final amended version of the purchasing policy and Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff agreed to resend it.

  • Abbott also said that the item indicating Village support for Port Moody's resolution to call for the creation of a Municipal Ethics Commissioner, agreed upon in an earlier meeting, needs to be returned to the Unfinished Business list.


Unfinished Business:


  • Once again, Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr reported that, apart from a few outstanding details, the 325 Bayview Bridge is nearing completion.

At this point, rather than addressing each issue on the list as is customary, Mayor Berry asked council and staff to bring forward only items from the Unfinished Business list (Page 12) that are of immediate concern, for the sake of expediency.

  • Abbott asked that another item dropped from the Unfinished Business list regarding BC Nature registration of lands be returned to the list, as it remains incomplete.

  • PWM Buhr asked that the two items: rescoping the connector project and the wayfinding sign project be dropped from the list, in light of an upcoming task force. This was followed by discussion of an email sent by Mayor Berry to councillors with regard to the task forces, and the subsequent calling of a new meeting (with regard to the connector project) that has not been publicly announced in the Village Update. After discussion, Abbott said that any such event should come to Council first before being announced.

  • None of the remaining items on the Unfinished Business list (Page 12) were addressed.


Reports:


  • Emergency Program Coordinator (EPC) Phil Folkersen provided a year-end update. (Page 57). He addressed a number of topics, including the change in provincial emergency legislation and the resulting feedback required from the village. He said he's spent the year reaching out to other communities, and has visited Squamish and Bowen Island with ESS manager Mary Brown. Experts from Bowen's neighbourhood emergency response program (NERP) have agreed to come and speak to Lions Bay residents in the new year, one of a number of other upcoming events anticipated.


Folkersen noted that new regulations mean before an emergency plan can be finished, the Village is required to complete a risk assessment. In a call with, among others, the deputy Chief of BC Wildfire, Folkersen said he brought up the issue of increased foot traffic above the village. He said they have asked to review the data, with an eye to providing more resources due to the heightened fire risk. "They were a little surprised by some of the numbers I sent to them – that kind of shocked them a little bit. His words were 'that may significantly increase our risk assessment for the area around Lions Bay'."


Folkersen also addressed the adoption of the Alertable system, noting that while more than 600 residents are registered, he would be happy to see that number above 1,000. He also made a callout for volunteers, saying that he now has meaningful work to offer for those willing to help. To Abbott's question about Folkersen's suggested budget of $30,000 for the costs of undertaking the risk assessment, the EPC Chief said he remained uncertain to costs as yet, and will have more information in the new year.


  • Next up was Lions Bay Fire Rescue (LBFR) Chief Barret Germscheid, who offered a verbal year-end report. He reminded Council that LBFR is considered a training department, and many of the young firefighters who complete their training and move here are quickly hired away. He noted that the Justice Institute trains 100 recruits each year, but this year alone Vancouver is hiring 120 new recruits. He said Village efforts to reduce utility bills for suites housing firefighters are helpful, and asked that Council encourage homeowners to come out and take part. Currently there are 24 members, (six of whom are homeowners and 18 professional pre-recruits) but he would like to see 30–35.


Germscheid said he is now certified to be an assistant to the Fire Commissioner, and as he is required to complete building inspections, will be starting an inspection program next spring. LBFR helps educate the public through school visits and the Firesmart booth at Firefighter Day every year. He continues to formalize mutual aid agreements, this year with both Britannia Beach and West Vancouver. His team continues to rewrite operational guidelines, and is working on creating Values, Vision and Mission Statements.


Germscheid said a company called Fronterra is working on a grant application for the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Community Resiliency Investment (CRI) grant. This could mean $100,000 in both 2024 and 2025 to spend on public education, including a FireSmart coordinator and wildland firefighting equipment. Every year, LBFR ensures the entire department is up to date in wildfire training.


There have been 130 callouts this year, including motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies and others. Germscheid noted that when LBFR attend an accident outside Lions Bay boundaries, they receive repayment from the province, which will amount to $17,000 in provincial money by the end of this year. He says it's been less easy to receive money back for costs in responding to brush fires. BC Wildfire has denied reimbursement to the department for all events except the cliff fire early this summer, so the department is now having to reassess priorities.


Germscheid says that he and three other members have taken the Firesmart course and are now certified, and the aforementioned funding will mean having another expert in the village over spring and summer to organize events, perform inspections and more. Finally, he broke down the Fire Underwriter Survey (FUS) percentages, and noted that LBFR trucks are the weakest link. In response to a question from Mayor Berry, he noted that fire trucks have a 15-year insurable lifespan, and the department trucks are currently 23 year and 13 years old, meaning that in two years neither vehicle will be considered viable by FUS standards. He added that there is a large variance in house insurance for neighbourhoods without insurable equipment or a nearby fire department.


Staff Reports:


  • Deputy Corporate Officer Marina Blagodarov presented suggested changes to the Council meeting calendar for 2024. As described on page 50 of the package, "Committee of the Whole (COW) meetings and Council meetings serve distinct purposes within the framework of local government". Council meetings are considered the final step in the decision-making process, where legally binding actions are taken, ensuring transparency, accountability, and public engagement. COW meetings allow for exploration of issues and consensus building, which can lead to more efficient Council meetings. Of the three options offered, staff recommended Option Three, which set a single regular council meeting each month, and two COW meetings. However, this motion was defeated. Cunliffe moved for the adoption of Option One, which allows for one regular Council meeting and one COW meeting monthly with the option to call another COW meeting as needed, and this was ultimately adopted.

  • Broughton submitted a report on behalf of the Lions Bay Beach Park (LBBP) committee (Page 60). He says the group has met with a lawyer to ensure they are moving forward in the most effective manner. A meeting is scheduled regarding the construction contract, and Broughton said any new information will be shared as soon as possible. After Abbott reiterated his concern about the timeline of project, Blackwell replied that he sees a clear path forward, and has no reason to believe the timeline won't be met. Abbott clarified that the procurement cycle is his concern, but will wait to hear the next report.


Bylaws:

  • A motion was made to amend the Fees Bylaw from 2016, (Page 119), recommending the amendment be introduced and given three readings. There was some discussion as to whether it make more sense to have two clauses: one for construction trailers and one for residents/non-construction-related trailers. PWM Buhr noted that this amendment is intended to expedite the current process. After discussion, the motion passed.


Correspondence:


The list of correspondence begins on page 144 of the agenda package. Councillor Abbott continues to be in charge of responses.


  • General correspondence came from Peter Julian, the Member of Parliament from New Westminster-Burnaby, seeking support for his Private Member’s Bill C-273 regarding the protection of children from corporal punishment. (Page 145).

  • The Prime Minister's Awards committee wrote to encourage the nomination of educators (Page 147).

  • Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs wrote to thank Mayor Berry and Councillor Broughton for their delegation at the UBCM. (Page 148).


After Abbott addressed these items, Blackwell recommended that Council consider the policy of reading out correspondence as unnecessary. He said that, customarily, if a letter appears in the agenda, it is considered received. If a Councillor has a specific interest in a piece of correspondence, that item can then be addressed. Reuter commented (in light of the earlier discussion sparked by resident Rebecca Caspersen's question) that whatever issue that is preventing correspondence from making it into the agenda must be resolved. He went on to express his dismay that a letter had been culled, and said that in the interests of openness, he'd rather have letters published, even if they are a "little messy," if it means less censorship.

After further discussion on the subject, the general correspondence was received as read.


New Business:


  • Broughton made a motion that the Mayor send letters of appreciation to the retiring members of the historical society, which carried.


There were no further comments offered from the public gallery so a motion was made to adjourn the meeting, and move back into closed session.


After the closed session concluded, Berry read a motion indicating Council's endorsement of an agreement between the Village and the BC Transportation Financing Authority for an unspecified project, and that a cost of up to $70,000, including contingencies had been approved. (It's possible that the name of the project was given prior to the recording being restarted). The Mayor also reported that Council endorsed a full-time position of bylaw officer, and have asked staff to come back with a workable model to implement this decision.


And with that, the last regular council meeting of 2023 adjourned. According to the newly-adopted calendar, the next regular council meeting will take place January 23, to be preceded by a Committee of the Whole meeting on January 9.


As always, The Watershed welcomes your thoughts. Leave your comments below, or email us at editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca


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Thank you Karen. Your detailed recap of Council meetings is extremely valuable for those not in attendance.

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