top of page

Council in Focus

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

April 18, 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 were Administrative Assistant Marina Blagodarov and acting CAO/CFO Ron Miller. Joining online was consultant Randy Diehl, as appointed by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.


This Council meeting was attended by yet another packed gallery, with ten attendees sitting in person, and more than 46 joining online.


A brief First Nations Land Acknowledgement was read out by Mayor Berry to open the meeting. After a few additions and deletions, the agenda was adopted as amended.


Berry asked Municipal Advisor Randy Diehl to address some procedural issues with regard to the public participation element of the meeting. Diehl, speaking online, said he recommends Council follow their own procedural bylaw (HERE), which limits speakers to two minutes. He further stated that the intent of the session is for Council to listen, not to debate members of the public. He added that Council members don't need to answer immediately, but can find the information they may be requesting and then respond again in a public forum at a later date. He noted that the key is not to enter into what could be "raucous debate" with members of the public.


Public Participation:

  • Online, resident Marek Sredzki said that the previous Council's neglect of residents' wishes to curb spending led to a vote for change, and said he wished to thank current Council for following through on their election platform, for improving administration and working to reduce operating expenses. He said that a small group of residents who were unhappy with this change have created a negative atmosphere, and that he is looking forward to the empty Council seat being filled with a constructive thinker.

  • Online, resident Michael French continued in this vein, offering a comment of support from himself, his wife and on behalf of "many of his neighbours", with regard to the direction Mayor and Council are taking this term. He admired the Mayor's 'teamwork', and 'stick-handling' of the considerable challenges that Council faces.

  • Online, resident and former Infrastructure Committee member Tony Greville, said the Infrastructure Master Plan contains all the details Council will need with regard to drainage issues being part of the grant application. He suggested reaching out to previous Infrastructure Committee members for help with grant writing. He also supported a change of wording regarding the engineering assessment of filtration from 'avoidance' to 'deferment'. He explained that for the village to avoid filtration there are four standards set by the province that must be met, and Lions Bay is currently is deficient in at least two of the four. According to last year's water report, the fourth standard stipulates a protected watershed. This would require banning hiking in the watershed above Lions Bay, which he suggested was an unlikely possibility. Although the implementation of ultraviolet filtration ($5-10 million in total) could cost village residents between $10-20,000 per household, he sees it is inevitable in the long run, leading to his recommendation to the change in wording from 'avoid' to 'defer'. "You guys have to understand that we have to plan for this," Greville stated.

  • Resident Norma Rogers spoke online. She said that Mayor and Council campaigned on the promise of an open and transparent government, but the opposite has occured. She noted that Council could counter the perception of secrecy if they would: provide agendas on the Friday before Council meeting, including written management reports; provide accurate and timely minutes, with summaries of discussions as well as actions required; require standing committees to regularly report to Council, as well as provide regular financial reports to Council and disclose the resident selection criteria for standing committees; make important committees like 'Infrastructure 'run both as a Select Committee and open to a variety of experts; minimize closed Council meetings; require residents who participate in Council meetings to provide full names; provide staff lists including management, with titles, hierarchy, and duties; and explain why CAO Peter deJong was terminated, and justify the expense of the termination. She concluded by asking Council to publish all resident opinion letters without threatening defamation, to ensure free speech.

  • Online, resident Leslie Nolin spoke to the history of the all-candidates meeting, noting that in the March 17 Village Update it was stated that no all-candidates meeting would be held. This decision was reversed at the April 4 Council meeting, when CFO Ron Miller indicated that an all-candidates meeting was being organized by David Shore for April 25. Nolin noted that at the time, Council deemed this to be inappropriate, given Shore’s involvement with the campaign of one of the candidates running for Councillor. Instead, Council decided that if this event was to proceed as a Village-sanctioned all-candidates meeting, CFO Miller was to obtain a neutral moderator, (Dennis Back or a suitable alternate to be vetted by Council). Nolin said that after Back confirmed that Miller contacted him, he was subsequently contacted by Shore. She said she was concerned Shore was once again organizing the event, contrary to Council direction, whereupon candidate Jaime Cunliffe declined to be involved. (Editor's note: At this point, Nolin's audio was briefly silenced as Council debated the appropriateness of discussing campaign events in Council. Nolin's audio was resumed so she could complete her question.) Nolin asked if Council would correct the misinformation about an all-candidates meeting in the Village Update.

  • Berry again asked Randy Diehl to offer his opinion on the subject of the all-candidates meeting. Diehl replied he had discussed the matter with Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Mark Brown, with Council and with Acting CAO Miller. He said that if all candidates will not be present at the meeting, then it cannot be called an all-candidates meeting, and as such, Council can no longer be involved. Municipalities can only facilitate events that apply to all candidates, and if the events are run separately, candidates will be required to pay for them. He clarified that the two campaigns will each hold their own meetings, since candidates have a right to run their own campaign in their own way. He added that it is important to be careful in Council meetings to not enter into campaign discussions.

  • Councillor Reuter also asked Diehl to confirm whether the Village Update would correct the all-candidates event information, put up a new notice for each candidate event, and allow residents the right to come and speak at each meeting. Diehl said the original information should be pulled down, and replaced with the information that there will be two meetings. He added there needs to be separate but equal advertising of each event, neither of which would be organized or funded by Council.

  • Resident John Phillips spoke online, stating his concern about the loss of village staff, and the way staff in the Village Office have been treated since the new administration took over in November 2022. He noted that no effort was made to engage the staff in the transition, or to retain experienced staff that were critically important to the functioning of Lions Bay Village. He cited the loss of the Building Inspector, and the impact on both houses under construction and building permits, and his concern that this could result in legal action being taken against the Village. He said that the loss of accountant Haley Cooke could have serious repercussions since she was the only remaining staff person who could do payroll or budgets or issue Utility Notices. Phillips felt Cooke should have been honored for her 14 years of service instead of how she was treated. He said he was pleased that Randy Diehl had been brought in, but asked how the total collapse of village services could possibly be avoided after the loss of more than 100 years of village administrative experience in the past few months. There was no reply offered to his remarks.

Public Delegation:

For the second meeting in a row, Lower Kevin Grove resident Kambiz Azordegan took a seat at the council table to register his concern with village parking lots. He noted that the Village is paying for by-law officers, but it's not right that priorities are given to visitors over the peace of residents. Azordegan proposed the formation of a Parking Committee, comprised of people from different parts of the community who are impacted by visitor parking. Until that time, he asked for an increase in the number of resident parking spaces in Lower Kelvin Grove from three to five. He says parking lot hours used to be from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. many years ago, which at his request had been changed to an opening time of 8 a.m. Despite this, he added, visitors still come early and disturb the neighbourhood.with the noise and cooking at their parking spots, which he said poses a fire hazard. He noted that bylaw officers often leave at 9 p.m., and are unable to enforce the laws for visitors. He asked the village to change the signage, adding that no bylaw is effective without enforcement.


Berry said he is looking forward to the formation of a Parking Committee, and Azordegan said that he will bring a possible solution to the committee when it is formed.


Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:


The first set of minutes came from a Special Council Meeting held on September 16, 2022. These minutes came from the previous Council, so after discussion it was agreed that Councillor Abbott, the lone member of that previous Council, would approve the minutes and the rest abstain, and in this way the minutes were approved.


A second set of minutes from the Regular Council Meeting on April 4, 2023 also required minor corrections. During the discussion, there was considerable back-and-forth over the specific wording of various elements of the minutes. Berry again asked Diehl for his guidance with regard to the role of narrative within the minutes. Diehl recommended that minutes reflect only the general motions, and that Council steer away from narrative. He said it's important to note what the business was that was agreed upon, not to reflect the fundamental nature of the meeting through a narrative.

The minutes were ultimately approved.


Unfinished Business :


  • Reuter reported that he would submit a written report back to Council at a future meeting regarding the Vacancy Tax. He said he has reached out to the finance ministry and the local MLA, and will report back after discussions are complete.

  • Once again, Miller reported that the budget is very close to being finished, as there are still ongoing questions he expects will be resolved this week. He said he hopes to have drafts ready to show the Finance Committee and Council by the middle of next week,and ultimately hopes to have public consultations.

  • Councillor Broughton said he chaired the Finance Committee meeting, adding it is clear the Village faces many infrastructure issues, and said he is looking forward to working with Infrastructure and Budget Committees. After a question from Reuter, Miller confirmed the budget is 80-90% complete, and reiterated that he should have a draft to present to the Finance Committee and Council by the middle of next week.

  • Miller said he had issued a building permit for resident Eric Upeniek, because Upeniek had submitted a certificate from an engineer. When Reuter questioned the legality of this process, Broughton said that regardless, this is the process Council has embarked upon, and added that other options will be discussed in the closed meeting.

  • Miller said he would coordinate a meeting to discuss the possibilities for accessing grant monies, with Abbott, Reuter, and Public Works Manager Nai Jaffer before Jaffer leaves his position. Abbott clarified that this is specific to the Disaster Mitigation Grant, and therefore the Climate Action Committee could contribute, along with other interested parties.

  • Broughton is reaching out to develop a group of interested residents to help with grant writing, and says the process is ongoing.


Reports:


Staff Reports:

It was decided the 2023 Draft Water, Solid Waste and Sewer Budgets would be addressed later in the meeting, under the auspices of the bylaws.

Mayor's Report:

Berry noted that he will attend a Metro meeting coming up on Friday, April 21.


Council:

Broughton reported that he will attend the Howe Sound Community Forum in Gibson's on Friday, April 21. He noted that the forum was first created in Lions Bay a decade ago with the goal of bringing together all the Howe Sound communities. He will be the greeter/host of the water taxi, representing Lions Bay at the dock.


Bylaws :

With regard to the Solid Waste and Utility User Rate Amendment Bylaws, Miller noted that he had distributed information at the last meeting, had been asked several questions, and was returning with more details.


This was followed by a wide-ranging discussion of these bylaws, and associated costs, and the appropriate use of surplus funds. Abbott suggested a small increase on the utilities budget in order to then use less of the surplus. He also addressed budgeting for Pressure Release Valves (PRVs), secondary suites for firefighters, and labour costs. Abbott added that the Climate Action Committee wants to set up a mini-transfer station to help reduce the costs of solid waste, and thus qualify for a grant. During the discussion, newly hired Controller/Accountant Joe Chirkoff weighed in online to explain some of the Public Works staff costs, as well as several line items. Abbott asked that Council come back next session to have their questions answered. In an effort to move the process along, Broughton suggested a 5% increase across the board, for each of the three utilities budgets. Abbott agreed, while also suggesting Council defer the capital expenditure for the Creekview water main to the civic budget discussion. In the end, Council read the Water Rates, Sewer User Rates and Garbage and Recycling Collection Bylaw amendments three times, and agreed, with the suggested changes, on a plan to adopt all three at the next meeting.

Correspondence:

General correspondence (beginning on page 36 of the agenda package) came from from MP Patrick Weiler regarding the Housing Accelerator Fund (p. 36), and a letter from his assistant Natasha Lepur asking to set up a meeting with Mayor and Council (p. 37), from Sandra Jansen of Metro Vancouver regarding the Asia Pacific Summit (p. 38), from Anton van Walraven of the Concerned Citizens of Bowen Island regarding concerns relating to the Woodfibre LNG Plant (p. 63), from CN Rail regarding their annual vegetation management program (p. 71), and from Noah Chalifoux of the Community Action Initiative with regard to the drug overdose epidemic and harm reduction forums (p. 86). Broughton asked that in future, if enormous letters could be linked, to avoid stacking the agenda unnecessarily. He suggested further communication with CN regarding concerns over potential fire danger and chemical usage. He also remarked on the importance of the Community Action Initiative as drug overdose deaths have surpassed Covid deaths, and are thus of tremendous concern. Both he and Reuter expressed an interest in attending the Community Action Initiative meeting.


Resident letters included two letters from Dave Butler on the subject of respect for staff (p. 94), and the Mayor's transparency (p. 96), kc dyer on behalf of The Watershed asking for comment on Council plans after the by-election (p. 91), from Ben Gauer regarding his concerns over the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (p. 92), Norm Barmeier looking for answers to the questions he asked at the April 4 Council meeting (p. 95), two letters from Norma Rogers regarding suggestions for improving transparency (p. 97), and changing the nature of Infrastructure Committee (p. 98), Leslie Nolin on her concerns regarding the All-Candidates meeting (p. 99), John Phillips on the consequences to the loss of experienced staff in the village office (p. 100), Gail Craig on the Privacy Act and reporting out of closed meetings (p. 101), Marion Maxwell on the dismissal of the CAO as announced in the Village Update (p. 102) ,and Keegan Rittinger on his property encroachment concerns with former CAO deJong (p. 103).


Broughton also referenced his responses to resident letters received at earlier meetings: to kc dyer on First Nation's Acknowledgement (p. 104), Melissa Byrne on the Garbage Bylaw amendment (p. 106), Trudi Luethy on her concerns for Council (p. 109), the Halstroms on behaviour around the council table (p. 111), Bruce McLachlan on Finance Committee (p. 113), Gail Craig on the appointment of the CEO (p. 120), Dave Butler on his concerns about the misrepresentation of his resignation (p. 122), Ben Gauer requesting Council advocate for them regarding the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (p. 134), and Norm Barmeier on his concerns regarding the Finance Committee meeting minutes and issues (p. 138).


New Business:

Broughton asked that candidates be allowed to provide information to the Village Update prior to the election. In light of the advice he'd received suggesting Council stay out of the election, Miller offered to run the idea past the Chief Election Officer before doing so.


Public Questions and Comments:

  • Online, Jaime Cunliffe offered her congratulations with regard to the Recycle BC grant.

  • Fred Bain, also online, commented that to win infrastructure grants the Village is often required to provide funds, so lowering Village reserves limits our ability to apply. He asked Council to consider that using the reserve means Lions Bay won't have money to cover the required percentages in grant applications.

  • Online, Leslie Nolin spoke regarding a letter she sent to Council on April 11, where the response was copied to resident David Shore. She questioned whether this was a privacy breach.

  • Resident Ehsan Monfared offered his opinion that Leslie's letter should not be considered private.


The meeting closed after a comparatively brief two hours and 16 minutes. The next regular Council meeting is scheduled for May 2, 2023 at 7:00 pm, just four days before by-election voting day. As of this writing, the agenda and associated information package has not yet been posted.

476 views4 comments

Recent Posts

See All

4 Comments


Karen - excellent summary of the commentary. I could not attend and appreciate the clear, concise and non-biased reporting.

Like

Thanks so much for this Karen. Really great, informative summary as always. I so appreciate the work you put into this .

Like

I appreciate this all-inclusive report in the Watershed. I have heard from some folks that the

Watershed reporting was biased but could see no evidence of that here.

Like

Thank you Karen for your factual and informative reporting. 😊

Like
Comment policy:

Only site members of The Watershed may comment. User names are open to choice, but members

must register with real first and last names before commenting.

We are looking for comments that are productive, insightful and contribute to the conversation.

We're interested in your perspective!

Disrespectful and anonymous comments will be removed without explanation.

Comment sections will remain open for a month, and after that time, further commentary may be directed to editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca

Thank you for joining the discussion!

small magnesia creek.jpg

Stay in the know...
Subscribe to The Watershed HERE

bottom of page