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Council in Focus: January COW

Updated: Jan 25

Draft budget main focus of January Committee of the Whole

January 9, 2024 Edition

Event: Committee of the Whole Meeting

Time: Public meeting: 6 p.m.

Agenda: 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, Public Works Manager (PWM) Karl Buhr and Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff. Municipal Coordinator Marina Blagodarov and Councillor Jaime Cunliffe were online via Zoom.

The meeting was posted for a 6 p.m. start, but the open, recorded portion of the meeting did not commence until 6:30 p.m.

As the meeting began, the in-person gallery was empty and there were 13 attendees online. Some changes in technology appeared to have been made over the holiday break, as the camera now shifts to focus on each participant as they speak, while also offering a panoramic view of council chambers.

Chief Administrative Officer Ross Blackwell explained that the intent of the meeting was to give members of Council an overview of what to expect of the 2024 budgeting process, including timelines and an orientation of the draft budget itself. He noted that he was looking for feedback from council as to both the process and the content of the material presented, with a view to fine-tuning and expediting the budgeting process for the future. He said that Council should expect this year's budgeting process to require a number of additional Committee of the Whole (COW) meetings in order to achieve all the objectives. He suggested that budget COW meetings be prioritized over other committee meetings in the short term in order to complete the budget on time.

Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff presented a PowerPoint summary of the budgeting process,

There was a pause in proceedings at 7 p.m. to allow members of the public who had not been present for the meeting's early start to ask questions. Resident Kambiz Azgordegan inquired about the progress of a parking committee. Mayor Ken Berry replied that a Parking Task Force had been struck, and would have 90 days to proceed. CAO Blackwell agreed to speak further with Azgordegan on the subject of the installation of parking signs in the Lower Kelvin Grove parking lot.

With no further questions or comments from the public, Chirkoff then walked Council through an overview of the draft budget itself, with the understanding that more detail would be made available in subsequent COW meetings.

The final pages of the draft budget are devoted to a list of potential expenditures, prioritized by staff and reflecting recommendations from the Fire Department, Public Works, Administrative Department and Infrastructure Committee. This list can be found in the agenda package on page 43.

Leading the list of recommendations are a new fire truck budgeted at $1.35 million, the Lions Bay Beach Park Revitalization Project budgeted at just over $1 million, and the Highway Water Tank Survey, Replacement and Design, also budgeted at a total of approximately $1 million. The total amount of the requested capital expenditures, including items listed as high, medium and low priority comes to $6,351,652.

Both Blackwell and Chirkoff emphasized that the draft budget is just a starting point, and ultimately it will be Council who will decide on the number and final order of expense priorities.

After the budget summary, Council addressed a letter from the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, which calls for the submission of resolutions. Blackwell explained that the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) curates a long list of requests from municipalities, and this is the first step municipalities can take to ensure their requests are considered. He asked Council to consider any issues of a provincial nature they might want to submit and present them to staff, who could then draft them into an appropriate form. The deadline for these requests is February 28.

The meeting ended just short of the two hour mark. The first regular council meeting of 2024 is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on January 23. As of this writing, no other COW meetings have been scheduled before that date, but the latest information can be found on the Village website HERE.

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

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