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Council in Focus

Updated: Apr 23

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


April 16, 2024 Edition

Event: Lions Bay Council Meeting

Time: Public meeting: 7 p.m.

Agenda: HERE

Financial Plan Bylaw: HERE

Video link 1: HERE

Video link 2: HERE

Missing Correspondence Info: HERE


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


*not actually very brief


There were four residents present in the gallery for the public participation element, and online viewers topped out at 14.


The meeting began with a closed session at 5 p.m. When the public portion of the meeting opened at 7 p.m., Council offered no public reporting-out. The agenda was adopted with an addition to New Business offered by Councillor Neville Abbott.



Public Participation:


  • Resident Gail Craig said she had noted the presence of Paul Fripp (an auditor with BDO Canada, the accounting company) prior to the initial closing of the evening's meeting, and concluded that he was presenting the 2023 Financial Statement Audit to the closed Council meeting. She noted that while this is an echo of the December 5, 2023 meeting when BDO presented the 2022 Audit to Council, prior to this, he has presented the audit openly before Council for many years (back to 2018 and beyond), and questioned the need for secrecy.


Chief Administrative Officer Ross Blackwell responded that it is not uncommon for municipal councils to address audits in closed meetings, particularly when "sensitive issues" are at play, but said he anticipates Council will report the results of the audit openly in due course. Craig replied that it has been uncommon in Lions Bay. She added that she had attended the Finance Committee meeting where it was announced that the audit was complete and in good shape, and she feels that, as in past years, the audit should be presented in an open Council meeting.


  • Secondly, Craig queried why the two attachments to the letter she submitted to Council were not included in the agenda. These included a comparison of the agendas and the missing minutes from the Finance & Audit Committee meetings from January 10 to April 27, 2023.  Deputy Corporate Officer Marina Blagodarov said that she made the attachments available online. (These can be found HERE, with the committee's minutes and agendas followed by Craig's comparison, beginning on page 14).

  • Resident Kambiz Azgordegan complained that no one has responded to his repeated emails requesting the closure of the Kelvin Grove parking lot after 10 p.m. Mayor Ken Berry replied that Task Force recommendations are currently with staff, and they will be brought forward to Council sometime soon.


Delegation:


Scott Christie was scheduled to speak to the importance of foreshore protection in Lions Bay and Howe Sound, but was not able to attend.


Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:


The minutes from the Special Council meeting held March 12 (found on page 8 of the agenda package), and the Regular Council meeting held March 19, 2024 (page 10) were adopted with minor changes.


Business Arising:


Referencing the Highway Noise Task Force (page 15), Councillor Michael Broughton asked that a Highway Noise Committee be struck. After discussion, it was decided to pursue the formation of all committees via the strategic planning process.


With regard to the Water Shortage Policy (Page 13), Abbott said that the Infrastructure Committee met and agreed with the PWM's assessment, and asked that information be directed to the Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) to help address the possibility of worst-case water shortage situation. Blackwell noted that staff is putting together a working group to formulate a water-shortage response plan.


Unfinished Business:


The list of action items can be found on page 18. Items specifically addressed included:


  • With regard to calling an EPC meeting (Item 298), Blackwell said that EPC Manager Phil Folkersen is currently out of province but is working behind the scenes to make a meeting possible in the near future.

  • Concerning the rescoping of the Connector Project (Item 310), Blackwell confirmed that staff is assessing Translink's recommendations, and will bring them forward to Council in due course.

  • Abbott noted with the recent coverage in The Watershed addressing rain barrel options, item 306 can be struck from the list.

  • Abbott also noted that work on the Protected Areas Project (Item 312) is ongoing.


Staff Reports:

  • Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff presented the Accounts Payable listing (page 19), which this quarter totals $726,000. Chirkoff pointed out what he called the "big-ticket items", including annual insurance for property and legal renewal at $105,000, and $17,000 for municipal insurance, plus $39,000 to Translink. Chirkoff noted that the $52,000 paid out for the Pride Trail has since been refunded by the province. Some discussion arose about the actual cost of insurance to the Village, versus the budgeted amount.

  • Chirkoff also brought forward a report on local grant application requests. According to the list found on page 26, these included (cash/in-kind value):

    • Lions Bay Events Committee ($5,000/1,000)

    • Howe Sound Revival ($3,000/100)

    • Lions Bay Trail Blazers ($1,500)

    • Lions Bay Butterfly Project/Native Plant Garden ($700/50)

    • Remembrance Day Ceremonies ($500/350)

    • Lions Bay Historical Society ($350)

    • Lions Bay Bird Friendly Initiative ($300/100)

    • Lions Bay Caroling Team ($145/40)

    • Lions Bay Garden Club ($100/225)

The remaining groups including the LB Community Scholarship Foundation, Seniors Social Circle, Lions Bay Arts Council and Lions Bay Craft Group made in-kind requests only. However the report, beginning on page 24, did not reflect this list, as one group's request was included no less than seven times, while several other requests were omitted completely. Councillor Marcus Reuter suggested that the report be brought back before Council in a more orderly format, but Blackwell noted that decisions of this sort should more properly be discussed in a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting.

  • Public Works Manager Karl Buhr presented a 27-page Road Improvement Report prepared by ICBC (page 89). After an exhaustive safety review of several intersections within the Village, a number of suggestions for mitigation of problem areas and to reduce the risk of crashes were offered. Buhr said that staff will implement many of recommendations and findings in conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) and Miller-Capilano.


Committee Reports:

A number of reports were submitted by councillors for the record. These included:

From Abbott:


  • a report on the activities of both the Climate Action Committee and the Infrastructure Committee (page 117).

  • Climate Action Committee minutes from meetings on November 27, 2023 (page 119), which included discussion about a pilot project for water metering, and from January 3 (page 122) and March 7, 2024 (page 122). He added that committee members are anxious to move forward with the mini-recycling project.

  • Infrastructure Committee Meeting Minutes from February 15.

  • draft minutes from the Curley Stewart Memorial Trust Fund Committee meeting of March 14 (page 138).


From Mayor Ken Berry:

  • the minutes from the Finance and Audit Committee meeting on January 29 (page 135). Abbott also asked to to see the minutes from the closed meetings of the Finance Committee and Lions Bay Beach Park (LBBP) committee.


From Broughton:

  • draft minutes from the LLBP committee meetings on January 10, February 7 and 28 (pages 146, 143 and 141). He said that the beach park project rollout is now in the hands of staff.


Reuter commented that on p 143, in response to a question from Councillor Abbott in the Public Participation part of the meeting, the LBBP committee advised that the jetty had not been taken out of the project, and was requesting that Council reverse the decision and remove the cost of the jetty from the 2024 budget. Abbott, who attended the meeting, confirmed that committee members were "adamant they did not recommend removing the jetty" from the funded part of the beach park project.


Councillor Jaime Cunliffe, who was also present at the meeting, said the conversation at the time was confusing, but that the committee had acknowledged that the funds allocated are not robust enough to cover initial plan and the recommendation was to complete what is possible. Berry noted that a possibility exists for the jetty repair to fall under the purview of the Connector Project, which could help cover some of the costs. Broughton confirmed the importance of the jetty repair, but that the province advised that not all the items on the initial list could not be covered. After further discussion including whether the LBBP committee still stands, and the fact the minutes are still in draft form, no resolution was reached, and the group moved on.


Mayor and Council's Reports:


Reuter gave an update to the Village's request for exemption to the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT) (page 149). The request was ultimately denied in a letter by the Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy, as seen on page 158. Discussion arose regarding communication the Minister sent to Mayor Berry in December that was not brought to council, and Berry was asked to provide that information. Despite repeated requests for more information, Berry said he didn't recall receiving the letter, but would look into it.


Emergency Reports:


  • Fire Rescue Dispatch Report: March 2024 (page 159).

12 incidents were reported, along with 15 usages of apparatus. 67 members attended incidents.

  • RCMP Report for January and February, 2024 (page 163). This included 38 calls for service, 27 of which took place on the Sea to Sky Highway, within the boundaries of the Village. Of these, 16 were moving violations, plus one non-fatal collision with damage under $10,000. There was one well-being check, a single cancelled file and two cases of debris, broken-down vehicles or pedestrians on the highway. The remaining 11 calls for service within the village included a report of assault, a single non-fatal collision, one report of fraud, and one report of breach of the peace. Two suspicious persons or vehicles were investigated, and the Coroner's Act invoked once. Two reports of lost property were investigated, one false alarm and one unspecified assist. 

Resolutions:


  • Council supported E-Comm 9-1-1's recommendation to nominate District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little to represent the Village of Lions Bay on the E-Comm Board of Directors for the 2024–2025 term.

  • Noise Bylaw Relaxation requests were granted to allow for events with amplified sound as late as 11 p.m. at the Village Hall on April 19, May 17, June 21, July 19, August 16, and September 20, 2024.


Bylaws:

In an evening where a number of bylaws were subject to be passed, some moved through the process more easily than others.

  • The Water Rates and Regulations Bylaw amendment found on page 176 received first, second and third reading, as did the Sewer User Rates Bylaw found on page 180.

  • The Garbage and Recycling Collection Bylaw amendment found on page 184 also received all three readings.

  • However, after a great deal of debate, including two failed votes, the 2024 Tax Rates Bylaw found on page 188 passed first reading only. Broughton's proposed amendment, asking that council "find efficiencies" and pass an increase of six rather than nine percent also failed to pass.

  • The 2024 – 2028 Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw (Page 192) made it a little further along, with successful motions for first and second reading. Blackwell reminded Council that as a tax rate and the five year plan must be passed prior to a May deadline, further special council meetings must now be scheduled. Chirkoff noted that there have been 15 versions of the budget generated since January 6. Further discussion included Blackwell once again suggesting council members reach out to staff with questions. Abbott noted that every version of the budget has changed, and asked staff to "draw a line in the sand" so that decisions can be made. Reuter called the entire budget process "deeply concerning", with line item descriptions that are unclear. "We need to do better here. I think that this council, over the last year and a half, has created and presides over a pile of rubble. This is our legacy, and we should be ashamed of ourselves. We need to do better and I hope we get there."

  • Confusion marked the introduction of the Water Bylaw, when Abbott noted that he doesn't feel village is ready for a bylaw, and doesn't need a bylaw to conduct a water metering pilot project, which will give more information. Instead, he proposed council approves Public Works going ahead with a planned pilot project, and take more time to review for requirements for a new bylaw. This was carried, without consulting PWM Buhr. Abbott's motion was then rescinded in order to give the PWM a moment to sum up his report (page 198). Blackwell recommended giving the bylaw first reading and then devoting a COW to the topic. However, when the motion to bring the the bylaw to first reading was proposed, it was again defeated.


Correspondence:


The list of correspondence begins on page 266 of the agenda package. Councillor Broughton remains in charge of responses.


  • General correspondence came from Sandy Boates on their concern over the use of the herbicide Round Up (Page 267).

  • Bill Lawrence of White Rock wrote to call for support of the reinstatement of the football program at Simon Fraser University (Page 274).


Resident correspondence begins on page 276 of the agenda package.


  • Rose Dudley wrote of her concern regarding recent discussions of a petition on the subject of the LBBP, and noted that information cited as incorrect at the last meeting was drawn from Councillor Broughton's February 20 report. She also expressed concern over $77,000 already spent on consultants. Abbott said that, having read the petition, he agreed it was based on Broughton's report, and added it was time to present an actual budget of where the beach park currently stands.

  • Gail Craig wrote a letter comparing finance committee meeting agendas and minutes, noting anomalies. She also asked that her attachments be added to the public record. Reuter commented in support of this request and it was confirmed they are now available on the website (HERE).

  • Norma Rodgers wrote offering comments regarding the April 2 COW meeting. While she says she supports paying taxes toward the infrastructure needs of the community, she objects to the LBBP project. She also expressed her support for bylaw enforcement of parking and garbage infractions. In response, Broughton called the beach park the 'jewel of the village' and said that it enhances property values.


New Business:


Abbott presented an on-table letter from District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little in support of a resolution calling for a change in Conservation Authority conflict response to black bear cubs. The motion essentially gives qualified veterinarians the final say over euthanasia of orphaned or otherwise at-risk black bear cubs rather than leaving it in the hands of conservation officers. After discussion, the motion to support this resolution passed.


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


(Editor's Note: Due to a technical glitch, reporting out after the second closed portion of the meeting was not recorded. That information will be reported here once it has been made available from village staff.) The next COW meeting is scheduled to take place May 7, with the public portion of the meeting to begin at 7 p.m. Should new meetings be scheduled to address the budget, that information will be included here.


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

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While we all appreciate the hard work of volunteers, based on the information in the resident's meticulously-researched letter above, plus the fact that the audit is now way overdue and is already going to cost taxpayers more than triple what it has cost in the past, I would feel more comfortable if our finances were still safely in the hands of experienced and qualified staff.

J'aime
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