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Council In Focus

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

A brief recap of council meetings, as viewed from the gallery.


February 21, 2023 edition


Event: Lions Bay Council Meeting

Time: Closed meeting: 6:00 pm, Public meeting: 7:00 pm

Agenda: HERE

Video link: HERE


Present at the council table were Mayor Ken Berry, Councillors Neville Abbott, Michael Broughton and Marcus Reuter, Acting CAO/CFO Ron Miller and Administrative Assistant Marina Blagodarov. Works Manager Nai Jaffer was present online.


This meeting saw an excellent turnout this evening of residents, with nine in-person attendees and more than 60 who tuned in online.


Reporting out of the closed portion of the meeting indicated that topics covered included legal and personnel issues.


Prior to the adoption of the agenda, Councillor Abbott requested an update on postings for open positions be added to the agenda. Councillor Reuter requested that in future, Mayor Berry present his reports in writing, as a part of the agenda package. There was some discussion about the role of committees with respect to council. Both Reuter and Abbott reiterated that committees receive direction from council. The agenda was then accepted.


Public Participation:

  • Resident Arlene Halstrom said she had reached out but not heard back from CN Rail after the hard-join incidents (first described and mentioned HERE) , but added that since the event reported at the February 7 council meeting, there have been no other incidents. She further noted that while residents greatly appreciate the salt trucks, this year there has been a problem with piles of material being left on the roads, rather than being scattered. Works Manager Nai Jaffer noted that there may be a problem with the auger on the trucks, and that he would look into it.

  • Resident Wayne Halstrom thanked Mayor Berry for his efforts, but registered dismay with the reactions of residents who are unsupportive of the current council and is disapproving of the media's characterization of the Mayor.

  • Former village councillor Jamie Cunliffe asked to clarify a statement made by Mayor Berry at the February 15 Special Council Meeting with regard to the employment status of Chief Administrative Officer Peter deJong. She said that her remarks were subject to items covered in a closed meeting of the previous council, but that she could state there was no recommendation provided by the previous council to move in a different direction with regard to deJong. She further noted that while the vote to seek outside professional guidance in July of 2022 was not unanimous, that she herself voted in favour. She said the CAO is the only village staffer who reports directly to council, and that a review was recommended under the previous council led by Mayor Karl Buhr. Prior to this, no CAO had been in the position long enough to warrant a review, but as deJong had the job for almost seven years, it seemed prudent to introduce a review process. The council of the time looked on the institution of the process as a legacy for future councils. She requested the Mayor recant his statement that such a recommendation had been made by the earlier council.

  • Resident Gail Craig referred to the February 15 public release of minutes from a closed meeting within the agenda package. She asked if there would be a disciplinary consequence to those who released the material.

  • Village resident Rose Dudley said she has attended the village office multiple times to ask permission of the CAO to spend money on spring flowers for the bridge boxes in the village, a job she has done for many years. She acknowledged that the CFO's job is part time, but asked why he is rarely present. She noted that he is now covering on a part-time basis the work that was previously done by two full time employees. Berry replied that Rose's point is well taken, and that council is facing a challenge with the loss of the previous CAO.

  • Reuter replied that council needs to find full-time people immediately. To Gail Craig's query regarding the release of information from a closed meeting, he said he was 'appalled' and that it shouldn't have happened. And he echoed Jamie Cunliffe's call for an answer from the Mayor regarding a mischaracterization of what had been said by a previous council. Abbott said that he had noted in the last meeting the mayor's statement was inaccurate. Berry said he would review the statement.

  • Online, resident Ehsan Monfarad said that he was dismayed by the conduct around the council table. He referenced the trauma the democratic world experienced during Covid as a root of the incivility, and asked that the council move on, adding that at the end of the day 'we are all neighbours'.

  • Online, resident Randi Byrne stressed the importance of a timely byelection, and worried that some councillors are stalling the process. He noted that previous councils commited errors without an outcry. He called for respect of the current elected council, and for council to get back on track and complete the byelection as quickly as possible.

  • Online, resident Eric Upenieks asked if council was given any notice that the building inspector intended to resign, and what steps have been taken to replace this position. Berry said that there has been an immediate outreach to other communities, and that the posting has been approved, and will go up shortly.

  • Online, resident Jon Povril asked about the article he read in The Watershed about the departure of building inspector Dave Butler. In the article, Dave noted that he had offered to return, and Jon and wondered if that might be possible. Berry said he was unfamiliar with the article and hadn't heard of Dave's offer. Reuter and Abbott clarified they had taken Butler's request to the CAO eleven days previously.

  • Online, resident Pardeep Sangha said she is currently building a house in the village. She noted her construction can't move forward without an inspector, and asked that one be hired as soon as possible. Broughton said that council began reaching out to other communities for help the morning after the resignation of the building inspector. Reuter asked if the possibility of bringing Butler back could be explored.

  • A discussion arose between Reuter and Berry with regard to the byelection process, and the Mayor noted he has written a letter to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs seeking their support.

  • Online, resident Mary Brown pointed out the grant for the Klatt Building rebuild expires on December 31. She asked if there are approved building plans to put forward, and whether the building will be completed in time or if the grant money will expire.

  • Works Manager Nai Jaffer said tender drawings were issued on December 15, and are ready to be submitted. Abbott added that expiry of the grant was a topic that had been covered in the closed session, and suggested that after the next closed session, council will report some of this information.

  • Online, resident James Mole asked the Mayor if an olive branch might be extended to bring the building inspector back. Berry replied that he is always open to speak with anyone in the village.

  • Arlene Halstrom spoke from the podium, and asked for clarification regarding whether Abbott and Reuter had read the article in The Watershed regarding Butler's departure before bringing the information to the CAO. Both councillors reiterated that they had taken Butler's concerns to the CAO immediately after he had reached out to them, long before the article was posted.

  • Online, resident Rebecca Caspersen said that council together agreed to terminate the previous CAO without cause, and asked, in light of the information that was released from the closed meeting minutes, what they would do as a council to mitigate the damage resulting from that decision. Both Berry and Abbott said they can't comment on information that has come out of the agenda of a closed meeting. Broughton said that land, labour and law are all topics that are handled in closed sessions, and that council will release information as soon as it is legally available.

  • Online, resident Penny Nelson asked Abbott and Reuter to confirm that they had communicated Butler's offer to the CAO/CFO when it was made, two weeks ago, and Reuter said that they had done so.


Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:

  • Minutes from the Special Meeting on November 24 and November 30 were passed.

  • Minutes from the Special Meeting on December 8 were passed, with a copy of the closed minutes hand-distributed to members of council by Broughton.

  • Minutes from the meeting on January 31, 2023 were passed after two corrections were made by Abbott: the first indicating that the responses given to residents Rose Dudley and Rebecca Caspersen in sections D and E were provided by the Mayor, not by council, and the second the rewording of municipal "clerk" to replace "coordinator" in the acting CAO's report.

  • Minutes from the meeting on February 7 were passed after Arlene Halstrom's name was added to replace the 'unknown speaker' who had expressed her concerns about rail noise, and the dates with regard to the Lions Bay connector package were corrected to read November 1, 2022.


Business Arising from the Minutes:

Reuter pointed out the questions around the speculation tax that had appeared previously in 'Unfinished Business' are no longer in the Unfinished Business section, in spite of the fact that the questions had not been resolved.


Unfinished Business:

  • Broughton said that the highway maintenance follow-up report will be issued on February 28th by Miller Capilano.

  • Broughton then suggested the following wording to the First Nations acknowledgement, noting it is consistent with what is being said at Lions Bay School: "We are privileged to be meeting and doing work on the traditional, unceded territory of the Squamish and Musqueam Nations."

  • After discussion, it was decided that information regarding the Lions Bay Connector be released to residents, and that further consultation will be conducted once the 90-day deferral imposed at the last council meeting has passed.

  • Following discussion, it was decided that Reuter will reach out to the Ministry of Finance on behalf of council to seek answers to questions around the upcoming Speculation Tax.

  • With regard to the upcoming byelection, Reuter asked if the Mayor had reached out to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for assistance. Berry said he had reached out by phone and followed up with a letter, which he then partially read in response. After more back-and-forth, Broughton asked the Chair to return to the agenda.


Reports:

  • Ron Miller gave the CAO/CFO Report. He said he met earlier in the day with the Finance Committee to go over the Utilities Report and the budget, and that both are ready to be presented to council and/or the finance committee. Abbott said the proper procedure is that material be presented to council first, before being sent on to committees. Berry asked Miller to confirm correct procedures regarding the presentation of this information. After further back-and-forth among council members, Broughton objected to Reuter using the term 'purported' to describe the Finance Committee, noting that the committee has been duly formed and is consistent with the terms of reference of the village. Reuter said Section 52 of the procedures bylaw requires committees operate on the direction of council, and that no direction of council has ever been given to the Finance Committee. Abbott noted that misunderstandings that arise in committee meetings would be resolved by taking direction from council first. The village's financial history was the subject of further lengthy discussions.

  • Berry presented the Mayor's Report by reading the remainder of his letter asking for help from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to get guidance for the upcoming byelection.


Committee Reports:

  • Abbott noted that Lions Bay Beach Park Committee is making progress, and while a little behind, is not in any danger of losing the grant. Broughton said that there has been great input on the jetty, that two successful workshops have been held to garner ideas from village children, and that a productive meeting is anticipated for Thursday.

  • The Board of Variance minutes were received by council.


Bylaws:

Abbott asked that the Garbage Bylaw amendment, having been on the agenda for several meetings, now be given first and second reading, with third and final readings to take place at the March 7 meeting, in time for enforcement prior to the annual spring arrival of bears to the village.


Broughton objected to the enforcement element of the bylaw, and expressed concerns regarding increases to the budget. He'd rather see education emphasized, and said the bylaw is 'over the top' in terms of enforcement. Berry added that he supports less policing and more education. Abbott countered that there has been a huge amount of education which is also set to continue.


Jaffer said that the new bylaw does not change procedures from last year, and is within the budget. He added that enrolling with Recycle BC has brought the solid waste budget a $25,000 credit, with $5,000 of that money earmarked to the Bear Smart Committee. he noted the problem has been with a very small percentage of residents who were repeat offenders, and the amendment is intended to give appropriate powers to the bylaw officers, making their jobs easier and more efficient.


Abbott asked that concerns regarding other bylaws including parking and the policing of residents not derail the efforts to protect the bears. The first and second readings were ultimately completed.



Correspondence:

Correspondence can be found HERE, beginning on page 48.

Broughton made reference to the death of Mary Comber Miles, creator of the Mary Miles Native Plant Garden, and resident artist at the VanDusen Gardens. Mary's husband Victor designed Lions Bay's community flag.


Broughton, who is on correspondence duty this quarter, brought three letters forward. The first dealt with a village guest objecting to a parking ticket, which Broughton said he would follow up on. With regard to the second letter from the Invasive Species Council, Abbott offered to find a volunteer in the gardening community to work with the council. Regarding the third letter from the Events Committee, Broughton emphasized council is very supportive of the committee.



New Business:

With regard to the information provided about the 'B.C. building stronger communities with $1 billion Growing Communities Fund', Berry said that all provincial communities are set to receive a portion of these funds, and had heard the amount slated for Lions Bay is to be in or around $500,000. Abbott suggested that several projects could be bundled together to apply the funding, and perhaps direct it toward the climate action committee. He further added that 'time will fly by' and someone needs to apply for these grants as quickly as possible.


With regard to posting the CAO/CFO jobs, Abbott moved that the current acting CAO/CFO post the jobs of CAO and CFO. Discussion ensued regarding the current structure of the job descriptions. Ultimately, separate resolutions were passed for posting a CAO/Village Manager position and a CFO/Treasurer position.


Public Discussion:

  • At the podium, former Councillor Jamie Cunliffe asked a procedural question regarding the minutes to the December 8, 2022 closed meeting that were distributed earlier in the meeting. She asked whether the minutes would become part of the public record, and should we expect to see them included as a part of this meeting's minutes in the future. She commented that she'd never seen minutes distributed as such before, and she'd like an answer, though she accepts one may not be immediately forthcoming.

  • Online, resident Penny Nelson expressed shock that Councillor Broughton would not support a bylaw designed to protect bears. She noted that the village Bear Smart committee is seen as an international model. She further asked him to comment on how his wife, former mayor Brenda Broughton who was instrumental in making the village a Bear Smart community, would react to his questioning of the garbage bylaw. Councillor Broughton objected to Penny's characterization, and said he is a supporter of Bear Smart. Penny said that she is merely making a plea: "No more dead bears!"

  • Online, David Shore spoke to the value of the wide scope of expert talent available in our community, citing the high skill level on the Beach Park committee and the Trail-Building committee. He cited in particular John and Rose Dudley, who have received Citizen of the Year Awards for their volunteer work.

  • At the podium, Tanya Cosgrave suggested that council consider seeking a volunteer to assist with the grant-writing process.

  • Online, Ehsan Monfarad objected to the condescending tone of public comments to council members, and spoke to the importance of fiscal prudence. He made further comment regarding procedure that Abbott then clarified, regarding the maximum number of readings that can take place in a single meeting. Mayor Berry concluded by reiterating Ehsan's point about the importance of civil discourse.

Council agreed that they were looking forward to the meeting with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs on Thursday, February 24th. And with that, the meeting adjourned.


The next regular council meeting is scheduled for March 7, 2023 at 6:00 pm. As of this writing, the agenda and associated information package has not yet been posted.

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Norma Rodgers
Norma Rodgers
Feb 23, 2023

Reading kc's summary is almost as if you were there but didn't have to witness the acrimony. As a former Bear Smart Chair I was dismayed that Neville's bylaw amendment to improve enforcement of garbage handling wasn't adopted immediately without dispute. We are a Bear Smart community.

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Your coverage of the meeting is amazing Karen and much appreciated.

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Another stellar piece of work Karen. Your efforts are a great boost to transparency in our community.

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WOW, thanks KC for this comprehensive, excellent report!

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