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Council in Focus

Updated: Mar 25

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

February 20, 2024 Edition

Event: Lions Bay Council Meeting

Time: Public meeting: 7 p.m.

Agenda: HERE

On table information: HERE

Video link: HERE

Present at the council table were Mayor Ken Berry, Councillors Neville Abbott, Marcus Reuter and Michael Broughton, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ross Blackwell and Deputy Corporate Officer Marina Blagodarov. Councillor Jaime Cunliffe attended online. Acting Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr and Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff sat in the gallery, with Buhr joining the table during staff discussions.

There was one resident in the gallery for the public participation element, and 20 online.

The meeting returned to the usual format of beginning with a closed session at 6 p.m., after which Mayor Ken Berry reported that the position of a full-time permanent Bylaw Officer has been authorized by Council.

After discussion, the agenda was adopted with the amendment that items pertaining to the Lions Bay Beach Park (LBBP) be moved into closed, as they might contain sensitive bidding information.

Public Participation:

  • Kelvin Grove resident Kambiz Azgordegan stepped forward to ask about progress with regard to the Parking Task Force. He was invited to attend what Berry referred to as the final Task Force meetings, that have been announced for February 22.

  • Online, Norma Rodgers thanked CAO Blackwell for his prompt reply to her question about the 2023 Annual Report. She noted that with the precedent of prompt handling of municipal finances in past years, she and other residents have been concerned that last year’s utility notices, audit and annual report were late, and that the audit and annual report are still outstanding. She also thanked Public Works Manager Karl Buhr for his comprehensive and understandable analysis of the water situation. She added that severe water shortages would be devastating and all residents need to understand the peril, whether to change behaviour or be convinced that water metering is necessary.


A concerned resident spoke online about the petition she has been organizing titled 'Lions Bay Water, Fire & Community Protection – Have your say'. (Page 4). She pointed to Dr. Patricia Daly's recent announcement as reported in the Vancouver Sun regarding the risks faced by small communities as a result of climate change. she reiterated the concerns that precipitated her petition, including the safety and security of the local water supply, increased droughts and fire risks, and the dramatic increase in hiker numbers through the watershed when water treatment systems are less than ideal. She asked that Council participate in the distribution of a petition to the community in support of the creation of alternate parking and hiking route for hikers, and cover the costs. After extensive discussion, Council passed a motion to support the distribution of the first part of the initiative, but declined to make a decision on funding until further information has been received.

Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:

The minutes from the Special Meeting of Council on December 15, 2023 (Page 7), and the Regular Meeting of Council held January 23, 2024 (Page 10) were approved.

Unfinished Business:

Council addressed a number of outstanding items (Page 14) including:

  • Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr reported no further developments in the construction of the bridge at 325 Bayview Avenue.

  • Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ross Blackwell reported no change in progress regarding the cost-benefit analysis on document storage options.

  • Blackwell said the organization of an Emergency Program Committee (EPC) meeting is still in progress.

  • After Councillor Neville Abbott once again explained his request to learn the number of people who are housing a firefighter in a secondary suite, Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff said that this is still in progress.

  • Councillor Marcus Reuter said that a letter has gone out to advise the Province of BC of the municipality's interest in a Speculation & Vacancy Tax exemption, however he noted that the letter was sent very late, meaning local residents have already received taxation notices. He said that while Council's arguments for the exemption are sound, a positive outcome is not assured.

  • Buhr reported locating Lions Bay Beach Park (LBBP) committee meeting minutes through November and a set of drawings, but said he had received nothing else. Committee member Councillor Michael Broughton reported that as the committee now has a staff member taking minutes, they will be available to be sent to Buhr.

  • Abbott noted that rain barrels had been inadvertantly dropped from the Climate Action Committee (CAC) agenda, but will be addressed at the next meeting.

  • Blackwell said that action on preliminary guidelines on public participation and correspondence, and best practices for correspondence and communication is still ongoing.

  • Chirkoff said that the budget review calendar is now resolved, though several more Committee of the Whole (COW) meetings will still be required until the review is finished.

  • Berry said that the next meeting of the Connector/Wayfinding Project task force is scheduled and recommendations will be forthcoming.

  • Blackwell reported that a tender has been posted for work on the LBBP, which is due to close next Tuesday.

  • A letter has been written to inform local governments of Council's support of Port Moody's resolution seeking a municipal Ethics Commissioner. Blackwell said once the letter has been sent out, it will be circulated to Council.

  • Abbott asked that the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database (CPCAD) be put back on the list of unfinished business, as it is not complete.

Staff Reports:

  • Blackwell presented a new Respectful Workplace Policy (Page 16), noting that while the policy was updated some time ago, it didn't have a provision in the case the CAO was involved. He said he sought legal advice, and has incorporated the language into the new policy. He said the policy is primarily intended for staff, and that Council may choose to endorse it. He clarified that some municipalities have such policies to either include both council and staff personnel or have separate policies for both groups. Discussion included whether the language properly reflected the Village structure and whether SARS members are included under the policy. Councillor Jaime Cunliffe pointed out that council members are bound by an oath of conduct, and noted this is common-sense policy.

  • Chirkoff presented the Accounts Payable Cheque Listing, October 1 to December 31, 2023 (Page 23).

  • Chirkoff offered a new Investment Policy (Page 32) for Council's consideration. He said that in the absence of an existing policy, this was drafted so that he can invest Village funds in a GIC. After questions regarding the wording and flexibility of the GIC options, the decision was made to amend the policy and bring it back to council for approval.

  • PWM Karl Buhr presented a 2024 Water Plan report (Page 44). He said the municipality is facing an unprecedented situation this summer, with the snow pack as low as it's been in memory. In combination with the predicted early and warm spring, a water shortage is anticipated. He said that while there are several possible long-term fixes, in the short term leak detection and repair is the first priority. Current records show that the village is using more than triple the water of neighbouring communities, which he attributes to leakage. He says his measurements are complicated by a possibly faulty flow meter, but that measuring the height of the water in the storage tanks indicates that that on several days every year, "we barely keep up". While precipitation can't be predicted, his efforts have been trying to pinpoint leaks, and that it's possible that 80 percent of Village water stores may be leaking into the ground, which, Reuter pointed out, is five times the usage that Metro Vancouver reports. Buhr said Works is systematically checking every curb-stop, using equipment to listen for indicators of leakage. He said people are responsible for fixing leaks on their own property, and that his team have been inspecting 10-15 houses a day for the last six weeks. Abbott suggested a village-wide blitz to speed up the process. Buhr also brought up the possibility of gaining access to Alberta Creek, which anecdotally appears to be a low-flow but reliable source of water, and that the Village has a licence to use the water. He said he will offer further suggestions for the best use of emergency water money at the next budget COW meeting. Blackwell's comments (found on page 55), suggested Council seek assistance from the provincial departments of Municipal Affairs and Climate Change, and said it is critical they ensure the magnitude of the issue is understood by the province. A motion to approach the province to seek help on this front carried.

Council Reports:

  • Broughton said he attended the Lower Mainland Local Government Association Annual Conference, and spoke to the value of attending for professional development.

Emergency Reports:

  • RCMP report for November and December, 2023 (Page 68). This comprised 38 calls for service, 16 of which took place on the Sea to Sky Highway, within the boundaries of the Village. Of these, six were moving violations, plus one collision with damage of over $10,000 and two with damage less than that amount, with one non-fatal accident. There was one well-being check, an animal reported and two prevention callouts to remove debris from the highway. The remaining 22 calls for service within the village included a report of assault, two reports of harassing communications, three reports of fraud, a report of theft under $5000 and a further report of theft under $5000 from a vehicle. One breach of the peace was reported, along with a report of threats uttered. There was one impaired driving investigation, two well-being checks to resident homes and a call under the Coroner's Act. There was one false alarm and a further false 911 call, as well as a call regarding littering. One unspecified assist was reported along with three suspicious persons or vehicles reported, and a single collision under $10,000.

  • Fire Rescue Dispatch Report: January 2024, (Page 70).

Eight incidents were reported, along with 15 usages of apparatus and 66 members attending incidents.


Broughton asked that a letter be written to the Ministry of Transportation in support of the annual Gran Fondo Whistler cycling event, taking place next September 7.


A change in the fees bylaw was sought by staff (Page 75), which would allow the PWM to immediately address vehicle and construction parking issues on the highway instead of incurring delays by having to await a Council decision. The motion carried.

(Note from the Editor: In response to a question from a reader as to whether local roads are included along with the highway, PWM Karl Buhr clarified: "...the fee and how it is permissioned and applied pertains to all municipal property.")


Broughton is handling correspondence this quarter. The list of general correspondence to February 15, 2024 (Page 100) included:

  • A letter from Denise McLean, Invasive Plant Specialist from the Ministry of Forests regarding pest management plans in the province. (Page 101).

  • From Vanessa Craig, Regional District of Nanaimo Chair, a letter and accompanying package discussing a legislative reform initiative update (Page 103).

  • Sam Sedlowsky of the Community Energy Association invited council members to a lunch event addressing Bringing Resilience into Disaster Risk Reduction (Page 138).

  • Shalan Kelly of the Girl Guides wrote asking the Village to 'light up' in blue, to show support for the Girl Guides on February 22 (Page 140).

  • Will Franquet, Operations Director, wrote seeking support of the 2024 Gran Fondo Bike Event, and noted the anticipated date of September 7, 2024 (Pages 74 and 141).

Resident correspondence included:

  • A letter from Norma Rodgers asking about the status of the heavily-delayed Annual Municipal Report. (Page 142). Rodgers also wrote a second letter (Page 147) outlining her concerns for the budgeting and cost over-runs of the Lions Bay Beach Park, and the removal of jetty repairs out from the grant-funded scope of the project and into the purview of tax-payers.

  • A letter from Kelvin Grove Residents Colin and Margaret Anne Watson regarding parking signage in Kelvin Grove in response to increasing Airbnb parking. (Page 143). Abbott asked if indeed there is such a problem and Reuter suggested that public messaging might be necessary if the problem is big enough to affect parking.

  • A letter regarding asset and infrastructure fund management concerns from Gail Craig (Page 145).

  • A letter from Norm Barmeier outlining several budgeting concerns. He asks Council for a transparent explanation of the enormous cost overruns and delays of the annual audit, the costs of compensation to the previous Chief Administrative Officer, whether levies can be expected to cover specific infrastructure projects and if the Village is eligible for any further grants in the near future (Page 145). Barmeier also wrote a letter back in November seeking clarification on public participation in Finance Committee meetings (Page 150).

Replies are offered (Page 148) to two of the above letters, including:

  • Buhr's response to Barmeier's letter on the status of grants (Page 151).

  • Blackwell's response to Rodgers's inquiry about the release of the Annual Municipal Report (Page 154).

Council decided that letters on the topic of the budget will be referenced during further budget meetings.

As there was no further public comment, a motion was made to recess the meeting and return to a closed session. When the meeting resumed, Mayor Berry had nothing further to report out, and so the meeting was adjourned.

The next scheduled meetings are the Committee of the Whole on March 5 and a regular Council meeting March 19, 2024. As always, The Watershed welcomes your thoughts. Leave your comments below, or email us at 

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