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Council in Focus, June Edition

Updated: Jun 28

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


June 18, 2024 Edition

Event: Lions Bay Council Meeting

Time: Public meeting: 7 p.m.

Agenda: HERE

2022 Annual Report: HERE

Video: HERE


Present at the council table were Mayor Ken Berry, Councillors Neville Abbott and Michael Broughton. Councillor Marcus Reuter attended online, and Councillor Jaime Cunliffe was absent. Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ross Blackwell joined the councillors at the table. Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff and Director of Operations Karl Buhr joined the group to give their reports.


One resident attended in person, and online viewers topped out at 20.


The public portion of the meeting opened at 7 p.m. Council offered no public reporting-out from the closed meeting which had begun at 6 p.m. The agenda was adopted with minor changes.


Public Participation:


  • Resident Kim Mailey appeared before council in support of his written request (page 63) to rent the Kelvin Grove parking lot on August 31, on the occasion of his daughter's wedding. Madison Mailey won an Olympic gold medal in rowing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and was named a Lions Bay Citizen of Distinction in 2022. Mailey's request to rent the parking lot was granted later in the meeting, subject to the appropriate bylaws.

  • Online, resident Norma Rodgers reminded council that the closing date posted for finding a new auditor for the Village has passed and asked if the position has been filled. She also noted that the deadline for 2023 Annual Report has been missed for the second year in a row, and asked about the status of the 2023 report and audited financial statements. Chief Administrative Officer Ross Blackwell responded that staff are still in the process of identifying a viable candidate. He added that once the new auditor is found, work will begin on the 2023 Annual Report, with a goal to being back on schedule for 2024.



Review and Approval of Minutes of Prior Meetings:


The minutes from the Regular Council meeting held May 21, 2024 (beginning on page 3 of the agenda package), were approved. The minutes for the Special Council meetings held June 4, 2024 (page 10), were deferred to a future meeting, as they required corrections.


Unfinished Business:

The list of unfinished action items can be found on page 15. Council decided to review the entire list. Items specifically addressed included:


  • Blackwell said the cost-benefit analysis on document storage options is "parked" for the time being as staff deal with more pressing issues.

  • Blackwell said that calling an Emergency Program Committee (EPC) meeting is on the agenda, but is not sure when this will be possible. He said staff are currently posting for a new EP Director to fill the position vacated by Phil Folkersen. Councillor Abbott stressed the importance of meeting, and reminded council that Fred Bain has agreed to step in as Deputy EP Director until the position is formally filled, and suggested that a meeting be held as soon as Bain is available, and Blackwell agreed.

  • With regard to providing preliminary guidelines on public participation and best practices for correspondence and communication policies, Blackwell noted that this sort of operational discussion can be held at Council's discretion, and asked that they make time to do so.

  • Mayor Berry noted that the Connector Project has been put into the hands of staff, and Blackwell confirmed that discussions continue with Translink, as the pathway to the beach qualifies as a part of this project, as does improvement of transit stops within the village. Councillor Marcus Reuter asked that council be kept informed via written report. Blackwell added that repair of the stairs beside the Village Hall is imminent.

  • Berry and Blackwell said the Wayfinder Signage project is also on hold. Director of Operations Karl Buhr said this project originally appeared as possible candidate for a Translink grant, but agreed it is not a priority.

  • The BC Nature Municipal Protected Areas Project is ongoing. Abbott said they had hoped the Howe Sound Biosphere would help find information from Metro, but have not had success so far.

  • Lions Bay Beach Park (LBBP) remains in the draft stage. Blackwell said the project is circulating internally and will be brought before council to decide what parts of it should go forward, with an anticipated start time in October. He said that once staff get responses, he will report back.

  • Firefighting Water Reserve Policy was referred to the Infrastructure Committee (IC). Policy requires and update and they will request input from Fire Chief Barret Germscheid.

  • Buhr reported that the Water Shortage Policy has been overtaken by the Alberta Supply Augmentation Project (ASAP) and said that the hunt for leaks in the village has meant a significant decrease in consumption.

  • A heated exchange arose with regard to a letter Reuter has repeatedly requested Berry share with Council. The letter had been sent by the province addressing the speculation and vacancy tax (SVT). Over Reuter's objections, Berry insisted he had forwarded the letter to council last December. Berry handed a binder of material that he said pertained to the matter to the CAO, and declared the matter closed.

  • Grant and Aid requests: Cash and in-kind requests from the Lions Bay Events committee, Trail Blazers, Remembrance Day Ceremonies, Historical Society, Scholarship Foundation, Carolling team, Garden Club, Senior's Social Circle, Arts Council, and Craft Group, were all approved. After discussion, Howe Sound Revival's request for $3,000 was declined. Council suggested this request be redirected to staff to allow the group to explore alternative requests.


Staff Reports:

  • An on-table report was presented by Financial Officer Joe Chirkoff presenting options for funding the ASAP Project. It was noted that $900,000 water contingency is already in the budget. After the meeting, The Watershed reached out to Chirkoff for clarification on both his recommendation and council's decision. Chirkoff said: "The recommendation in the report was that we pursue short term borrowing.  We discussed the water contingency and (that) it could be used to fund the ASAP project, however the five year plan still is drawing down on reserves and we have water-related projects that are ‘parked’ because we don’t have the funds available without further borrowing, grants, or taxation."

 

He added: "My recommendation in council was to apply for the short term loan, have the investment policy approved at the next meeting, and hedge the interest on the short term loan by investing unused cash we currently have in GIC’s.  I can get 1 year GIC’s that earn more interest than the interest accrues on the loan, so effectively its free money and we can use the contingency for other projects (or just pay the loan back if council so chooses)."


  • Chirkoff then presented the 2022 Annual Report, noting that had gone through four revisions, and had been published on the Village website for public comment. He said he had received feedback in the form of one email. Blackwell said that the Annual Report is a staff document that meets a statutory requirement, and therefore does not have be passed by council, only considered. Both Abbott and Reuter said they objected to the Mayor stating his message is offered on behalf of council, as they said the message does not represent their views. Berry said he is happy for the message to come only from the Mayor. To a suggestion from Reuter that the Mayor's message be removed, Blackwell said he wouldn't recommend that course of action, and that if dates or other information are incorrect, he recommended "ironing out" the inaccuracies. Berry said that the document had been considered, and he was ready to move on.


Committees:

Minutes from Climate Action Committee Meeting on April 22 (page 34), and the Noise and Safety Committee Meeting on June 3 (page 46) were received. There was an issue with the Infrastructure Committee Meeting minutes from on April 18 (page 39), which will be returned to the committee for reconsideration.


Mayor and Council:

  • Councillor Abbott's report: (page 48). Abbott attended two Infrastructure Committee (IC) meetings and two Climate Action Committee (CAC) meetings, and included the minutes and a findings summary of these meetings in his report. These included a formal recommendation of support for the ASAP project from the IC. The report was received.

  • Councillor Broughton's report: (page 46). Broughton brought his notes and observations from the Highway Noise group. Highlights included confirmation that the re-installation of quiet pavement will go ahead this summer on the southbound lane of Highway 99. Members of the group are eager to liaise with RCMP to ensure speed enforcement is maintained, however, Blackwell pointed out that protocols mean RCMP will not share information with the public, therefore it is better to direct questions to staff for follow-up with outside agencies.


Emergency Reports:


  • Fire Rescue Dispatch Report, May, 2024 (page 56).

13 incidents were reported, along with 20 usages of apparatus. 65 members attended incidents.

  • Sea to Sky RCMP Report, March and April, 2024 (page 60).

This reporting period required 56 calls for service, 34 of which took place on the Sea to Sky Highway within the boundaries of the Village. Of these, 27 were moving violations, plus one collision with damage under $10,000. There were two well-being checks and two cases of debris, broken-down vehicles or pedestrians on the highway. The remaining 22 calls for service within the village included a report of assault, a single moving violation, two reports of fraud, one uttered threat and four reported breaches of the peace. One suspicious person or vehicle was investigated, and the Coroner's Act invoked once. One report of lost property was investigated, as well as one false alarm and one unspecified assist. Abbott noted that the false alarm report should not have been included without a redaction of the address.


Correspondence:

The list of correspondence begins on page 50 of the agenda package.


  • General correspondence began with two letters from Penny Nelson of Lions Bay Bird Friendly on the subject of Renewed Bird Friendly Designation (page 51). Abbott said this letter should be moved to resident correspondence, and offered kudos to the group for moving up to Intermediate status.

  • Deputy Mayor Kelly Hall of Kamloops City Council wrote on the subject of representation of Kamloops City Council now that their Mayor is no longer authorized to speak for Council (page 53).

  • Ryan Bruce of Lions Bay Events wrote in support of Canada Day Celebration needs (page 54), asking for an exemption to the noise bylaw for the event.


Resident correspondence begins on page 80 of the agenda package.

  • On May 18, prior to the release of the 2022 Annual Report, former councillor Norm Barmeier wrote about his concerns regarding budgeted spending (page 62). He wrote a second letter on the topic of the Green Municipal Fund, and encouraged staff to apply for financial support of the ASAP project, (page 64) and a third letter with his feedback regarding the 2022 Annual Report (page 65). Abbott spoke in support of Barmeier's suggestion to apply for the grant, and noted that as a rural community Lions Bay may be entitled to more grants. Blackwell suggested pursuing the services of a professional grant writer, but Abbott noted that in the past, the only grants that succeeded were written by the Public Works Manager and staff, whereas all grants written by professional grant-writers failed. Reuter emphasized the importance of pursuing the Green Grant.

  • Kim Mailey wrote to request to rent the Kelvin Grove Parking Lot (page 63).

  • Carla Babcock wrote to request a relaxation of the Noise bylaw for a wedding party. After discussion, it was decided to reply that council had no objection to her request.


No further comments were offered from the public gallery so the open portion of the meeting adjourned. The next meeting of Council is a Committee of the Whole scheduled for July 2.




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

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I watched that heated exchange on the Speculation and Vacancy Tax and am hoping Councillor Reuter will drop the subject. So many people are looking for accommodation in Lions Bay and across BC; if the tax incentivizes people to rent out their under-used homes to those in need I see it as a win.

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