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Council In Focus

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


March 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 Neville Abbott, Michael Broughton and Marcus Reuter. Also present was acting Municipal Clerk Karen Jeffreys. Works Manager Nai Jaffer was asked not to attend and so was not present, nor was acting CAO/CFO Ron Miller.


Engagement remains high in the village, as this marathon session clocked in at just about three and a half hours, with more than 40 village residents present for at least part of the proceedings, in person and online.


Prior to the adoption of the agenda, Councillor Michael Broughton requested that the First Nations acknowledgement be added to New Business. Councillor Marcus Reuter then questioned the absence of the Works Manager, and Mayor Ken Berry noted that he had been requested not to come by acting CAO/CFO Ron Miller as a cost-saving measure. The subject of staff attending meetings expanded into wide-ranging discussion touching on the best use of staff time, work load, fiscal responsibility and scheduling issues. Councillor Neville Abbott noted that the Works Manager's presence is pivotal, especially in light of the absence of Miller. He put forward a motion that staff should attend meetings, but this was defeated.


Abbott then asked to asked for an explanation of the protocol when a taxpayer sends correspondence. Broughton noted that if the letter is sent to an individual councillor, that councillor deals with it. However, if sent to multiple councillors or to the village office, the letter is put on the next agenda, and then following the meeting, the councillor currently in charge of responding will reply. Eric said he sent a letter regarding the resignation of the Building Inspector on February 28 which was never acknowledged. Broughton noted his email had been received, and Eric said he felt Miller should have responded. He then asked what action had bee taken with former Building Officer Dave Butler's offer to return. The Mayor said the village was not able to fulfill Butler's ultimatum, but that Miller continues the search to hire someone, including the potential for an engineers or architects to sign off on paperwork. Eric said that it sounds like the village is no closer to having an inspector in place. Berry said Miller is planning to reach out affected villagers, and Eric replied that he would also request an email, so he has something in writing. Reuter said he'd spoken to Butler this week, and reiterated that the offer to return was extended to Miller on February 10. The mayor added that Butler's conditions meant Council would have to either not hire or let go an individual present in the room, and that was unacceptable.


Public Participation: All speakers were present online.

  • Resident and former councillor Jamie Cunliffe commented on the absence of the CAO/CFO and the Works Manager at the meeting. She noted that it is vital to have the Works Manager present, particularly when he is the most knowledgeable person with regard to policies and procedures. She also reiterated her question from the February 21 meeting about whether the on-table correspondence distributed in the February 7 meeting by Councillor Broughton be included in the public record, noting she had not yet received a response.

  • Resident Eric Upenieks asked for an explanation of the protocol when a taxpayer sends correspondence. Broughton noted that if the letter is sent to an individual councillor, that councillor deals with it. However, if sent to multiple councillors or to the village office, the letter is put on the next agenda, and then following the meeting, the councillor currently in charge of responding will reply. Eric said he sent a letter regarding the resignation of the Building Inspector on February 28 which was never acknowledged. Broughton noted his email had been received, and Eric said he felt Miller should have responded. He then asked what action had been taken with former Building Officer Dave Butler's offer to return. Berry said the village was not able to fulfill Butler's ultimatum, but that Miller continues the search to hire someone, including the potential for an engineers or architects to sign off on paperwork. Eric said that it sounds like the village is no closer to having an inspector in place. Berry said Miller is planning to reach out affected villagers. Eric replied that he would also request an email, so he has something in writing. Reuter said he'd spoken to Dave Butler this week, and reiterated that the offer to return was extended to Miller on February 10. Berry said that Butler's conditions meant Council would have to either not hire or let go an individual present in the room, and that was unacceptable.

  • Resident Tamara Leger asked about the delay of the village utility bills, and the cost to the village. She further inquired about the Accounts Payable (Q4) reports from the fourth quarter of 2022, which have not been entered into the record as yet. After some discussion, Abbott agreed that the Q4 reports are important and will be made available at the next council meeting. Broughton said the utility bills are pending.

  • Resident Dawn Mitchell spoke of her concerns regarding the costs of the new garbage bylaw amendment. She noted that there are costs associated with increased by-law officer hours, office time when managing the tickets, shift differentials, and the extra costs that having more restrictions will mean when negotiating with the garbage disposal company. She also says there is a cost to residents, as some people who work outside the home have a challenge to comply with the timing regulations, which is a cost to those families. She would like to see a reach-out to the community to determine residents thoughts, rather than a bylaw being passed without an analysis of the costs or village approval. She closed with the impossibility of removing all bear attractants. New grass, berries and spruce buds are all natural food for bears.

  • Resident Carmon Leeson agreed with Reuter and Abbott that communication needs to be better, and also with Eric's earlier point that it's extremely frustrating when answers from council don't come in a timely fashion. He also asked the mayor to allow the online gallery more time to get their hands up, as people aren't being heard. He echoed the earlier sentiment that the late utility bills are costing the village money, and also making it difficult for residents to plan their finances.

  • Resident Norma Rodgers responded to the comments of resident Randi Byrne, who referred to the 'outrage group' at the February 21 council meeting. Norma indicated that as a member in good standing, her outrage is not directed at those who were elected, but at council's actions with regard to staff loss, the misunderstanding of council rules and cronyism. (Norma's full response can be found in our 'A Letter to the Watershed' column.)


Delegations:

Events Committee co-chairs Riley Darr and Ryan Bruce spoke to council about their first year on the events committee. They submitted a grant application asking for $6,000 and in-kind support from staff. Ryan said that for the upcoming year, the group is committed to put on the core events the community has come to expect: Easter Egg Hunt, Canada Day, Trivia Night, Polar Bear swim and Halloween (which, he noted, with the children's party, the adult dance and fireworks, is more three events than one). They thanked past volunteers and chairs for their support, and said they are working on ideas for the future. In addition to the grant, they are actively seeking sponsors. They've had a photographer capturing events so they can build an online events page, in hopes it will attract more sponsors.

Council members thanked Riley and Bruce for their hard work and congratulated them on their success.


Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:


The minutes from the February 21 council meeting were passed after a few changes to the wording, and clarification on the number of readings required for the garbage bylaw amendment and Reuter's handling of the Speculation Tax.

Business Arising from the Minutes:


Reuter asked about the status of the CAO/CFO posting, and Abbott pointed out that only the CAO and Building Inspector positions have been posted, not the CFO. Reuter said that while the posting for the Building Inspector position has been made on the Civic BC site, it has not been made on the Building Official's Association of BC (BOABC) site.


Penny Nelson, a volunteer with the village bird-friendly group, has stepped forward to liaise with the Invasive Species association. It was decided a resolution for this volunteer task was not required.


Unfinished Business:


  • Reuter is moving forward with his inquiry into the provincial Speculation Tax, and will report progress at an upcoming meeting.

  • Berry said that Miller is seeking legal advice regarding whether budget information can be presented to the Finance Committee before coming to council. Once again, an extended discussion ensued regarding whether items should come to council before going to committee or the reverse. Abbott reiterated that the reason he didn't join the committee has been repeatedly taken out of context, and emphasized that his role as councillor is as a representative of the village electorate, not of the mayor.

  • Staff are working with architects to prepare drawings for the Klatt Building upgrade project, so the job can be put out to tender.

  • Broughton said the highways report came out on February 28 regarding the repaving of the Lions Bay section of Highway 99, but timing of the repaving is on hold until a post-winter assessment can be made, which is slated to happen in April.

Village Byelection Announced for May 6, 2023


Reports:

  • Mayor Berry gave a verbal staff report on behalf of Miller. He said Miller plans to present the budget to the Finance Committee on March 14th, and subsequently to the Committee of the Whole on March 16 or 17, with the intention of presenting a revised budget to council at the March 21 meeting. He further added that Miller has been in touch with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, who have informed him that Lions Bay's byelection is now scheduled for May 6, 2023, and that an independent Chief Election Officer will be announced when the Ministerial order drops this week. Staff have asked to extended the grant for the Klatt building repair; and village resident and former Fire Chief Andrew Oliver has offered to take on the role of project manager, at no cost to the village. Oliver has also offered to consult with Miller on the budget for the project.

  • Berry then delivered the Mayor's Report. He said the MLA for North Vancouver/Seymour Susie Chant reached out last week to say the province was providing a grant of $998,000, which was more than had been expected. Berry said the MP also told him that some of the $50 million grant directed to Metro Vancouver Regional District may also be earmarked for Lions Bay, as the village is considered a part of the Metro area. Recent Metro meetings covered regional plans for climate change, and that diesel fleets will be replaced in the next decade with vehicles powered by natural gas, as electric vehicles are still not available. The mayor said that when Translink turns its attention away from regional decisions, the four smallest communities stick together to gain a larger voice. He added that Translink is reporting a shortfall due to Covid, and will be seeking compensation from the province.

Emergency Program Alert System to Change


Committee Reports:


  • Lions Bay Beach Park Committee: Abbott asked that the resolution wording be altered to read that Council supports the Lions Bay Beach Park Committee recommendations, and that the CAO is to put a request to the province via ‘Front Counter’ to repair the existing Jetty as part of the revitalization. The resolution was approved.

  • Abbott said the Emergency Program Committee is recommending Lions Bay move from the LB Alert system to Alertable, in spite of a price differential. The recommended software is Canadian, and costs $3,600 annually, compared to $1200 per year for LB Alert. The present system is American, and the information they request cannot by law be stored on American servers. There is a also a one-time cost of $300 to transition existing resident information from the LB Alert to Alertable. The current system will expire before the next council meeting, which created some urgency to make a decision. Council agreed to a resolution supporting this change.

  • Abbott addressed a few other Emergency budget items including the salary of the Emergency Program Coordinator and extending his existing contract. He also said more information will be made available at the next meeting regarding the formation of an Emergency Contingency Fund of $50,000, to be used in the event of an Emergency. It's not extra money, as Emergency funds are ultimately paid out by the province, but it means a liquid amount is available to residents in immediate need. The funds are then claimed back from the province. And finally, Abbott noted that the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund contains $10,000 from last year's grant, which must be spent and claimed back by mid-April. An Emergency Team Meeting has been called for 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 9.

  • Tree Committee: Council agreed to get together with the tree committee to discuss recommendations

    • The tree application at 261 Stewart Road was approved for a one year permit.

    • The tree application at 70 Sunset Drive was approved for a one year permit as requested.

    • The tree application at 12 Brunswick Beach Road was approved after being amended to include the removal of branches that drop below 15 feet, and subject to the opinion of an arborist, the removal of the dead tree identified by Works staff at the site, with the cost of the arborist to be split between the village and the homeowner.


Resolutions

  • As the village requires an officer to screen bylaw tickets, the resolution was approved with the amendment that Council appoints the office of the Corporate Officer, to be appointed as a Screening Officer as per the correct bylaw.

  • Also approved was a resolution that staff would write a letter to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs asking for a one-year extension to the end of December 31, 2024, for the Klatt Building Retrofit/Upgrade project.


Bylaws:


Council rescinded the first and second readings of the Garbage & Recycling Collection Bylaw amendment that took place on February 21, as the amendment numbers were incorrect. The Council then attempted to hold First, Second and Third Reading for Garbage & Recycling Collection Bylaw No. 455, Amendment Bylaw No. 625. After wide-ranging discussion about the enforceability of the bylaw and the terminology used, the motion passed with the word 'prevent' instead of 'prohibit' as it pertains to wildlife enclosures, removing the final hurdle.


Correspondence:


Correspondence can be found HERE, beginning on page 101.


Broughton noted that there were four items of general correspondence on the topics of the SPCA, strategic planning, guidance on the passage of the garbage bylaw amendment and an invitation to the Howe Sound Community Forum.


He said that twelve letters from residents were received, including five letters pertaining to procedure. There was considerable back and forth on whether the content of emails sent to residents represented the view of council. The remaining letters covered topics including the garbage bylaw and bears, disaster mitigation, the departure of the building inspector, a thank you that had been read out at the last council meeting, a question about the status of Pride Trail and a detailed list of questions from former Mayor Karl Buhr. Broughton said he would get back to all correspondents, and said he would work with staff to ensure the receipt of all letters is acknowledged.

Abbott noted that the letter on the subject of disaster mitigation be referred to the Climate Action committee. Reuter pointed out that the Village Update should be used for the presentation of factual information.


New Business:


A First Nations acknowledgement brought forward by Broughton was shelved until he can supply support materials to share with council.


Abbott requested an explanation of how staff are compensated for attending meetings.


Public Discussion:

After thanking council and volunteers for making the village a great place, resident Ehsan Monfared said that by the time council figures out their process when it comes to standing committees, it will no longer matter. He mentioned a plan to research the democratic process regarding the number of readings given to the garbage bylaw amendment, and that meanings of 'prevent' and 'prohibit' are the same. He said that council seems unaware they are working at cross-purposes when it comes to addressing the bear question. And finally, he noted that election winners rarely if ever represent a majority, and quoted Winston Churchill as saying that democracy is the worst form of government.


The next regular council meeting is scheduled for March 21, 2023, with the public portion commencing at 7 pm.


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Norma Rodgers
Norma Rodgers
Mar 09, 2023

kc dyer's summaries help residents who do not attend council meetings understand the issues but her neutral version of events leaves out some context. As a former Bear Smart Committee Chair I was once again aghast that Councillor Broughton wasted a lot of Council time quibbling about the wording of an improved garbage bylaw. Bylaw enforcement for residents who refuse to follow the rules despite education is necessary. He says he is a Bear Smart supporter but obstructs important bylaw enforcement measures. Thankfully he finally allowed the bylaw changes to pass. Another resident who claims to love bears complained about the inconvenience of garbage handling rules, the costs of bylaw enforcement, and the impossibility of removing natural food attractants i…

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