City decides on UBCM topics

Grand Forks City Council briefs from the regular meeting of July 18.

Grand Forks city council met for its regularly scheduled council meeting on July 18, discussing meetings to take place at the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the idea of public pianos situated in the downtown core.

Adoption of the Minutes

Councillor Colleen Ross raised an issue with the minutes as presented from the June 13 Committee of the Whole meeting, noting she did not make the motion to receive the presentation from Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association (ILMA) as presented (which included a clause supporting the resolution put forward by ILMA) and merely called a motion for the correspondence to be received. Councillor Julia Butler had previously noted the discrepancy at the June 27 meeting of council, and the minutes appeared on the agenda for a second time.

Reports from Council

Councillor Christine Thompson delivered her report, noting the disappointment she has seen in the community that the repaving of 22nd Street has been delayed until the 2017 budget. Thompson notes that the deteriorating condition of the road has been “on record” since 2009, and requested that Chief Administrative Officer Doug Allin bring forward a report at the Aug. 15 meeting on the feasibility of bringing the paving forward to the 2016 capital budget. This motion passed.

Councillor Chris Hammett delivered a verbal report to council, delivering two notices of motion. The first was a call for the development of a “council’s business plan,” which would take items out of the strategic plan and target them as projects council would like to complete during its term.

“I know we have our strategic plan, but realistically we need to put together a business plan: take some of the things off the strategic plan of what we think we can achieve for the balance of our term and what we would like to see come to fruition,” Hammett said.

Furthermore, Hammett ask council to start considering a strategic direction for the section of Riverside Drive where Whispers of Hope is currently located once the group’s lease expires in two years.

“Right now [the riverside] is not accessible to the community, it is cut off from the community. We need to find another location for Whispers, that is my opinion. We need to give that community land back to the community, because right now they can’t access it,” Hammett said. Butler also expressed support, saying she believed exploring the possibilities of development along Riverside to be a good idea.

“This is the point of a notice of motion. We can go home, think about it, talk about it, so when we come back next time we can talk about it from an informed perspective,” Butler said. “I think you have a lot of great ideas.”

UBCM

Council had a lengthy discussion on the topics to be discussed with ministers at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) in September. The four topics to be discussed at the meeting are: asset management with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development; Policy 308 Code of Conduct, again with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development; the Granby River Mining Co. slag pile taxation with B.C. Premier Christy Clark; and homelessness and housing with the Minister of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing.

According to the memo distributed to council, these topics support the strategic priorities of council, including fiscal accountability and community engagement. However, several councillors raised concerns over the meetings that had been chosen. Hammett said she was concerned that the issue of Nature’s Trust and cattle grazing were not being addressed.

After some discussion, Allin said he would arrange a meeting with the Ministry of Parks staff to discuss the issue of the province’s commitment to preserving the grasslands.

Butler voted against the motion, noting she disagreed with some of the topics to be presented, including asset management.

Slag remediation

Council passed a motion to establish a Slag Remediation Fund in the name of the city. Signatories on the fund will be the chief administrative officer, chief financial officer, corporate officer and mayor, as well as a member of council.

Items for Information

Council discussed a letter from Nathan Vogel on the possibility of downtown public pianos. Council raised several issues with the proposal, including care and storage of the pianos and noise bylaw issues. Hammett said she would bring the issue to the Downtown Business Association, since it would ultimately be the association’s decision, and they can take action on the issue if they wish.

Council approved the issue of a special occasion liquor license to Chuck Varabioff for Aug. 5 and 6 for the CannaFest event. This license is subject to third party liability insurance and displaying ICBC Drinking and Driving posters.

Bylaws

Council approved a request to extend the noise control bylaw to 12:30 a.m. on July 23 and 30, and Aug. 6, 13, 20, and 27 for the drive-in theatre at Angus MacDonald Park.

Council also approved the final reading of 2016-2020 Financial Plan Bylaw 2021 Amendment 1. Butler voted against this motion, noting that she didn’t believe the amendment accurately reflected the interests of council.

“We had a motion from Councillor Thompson tonight to look into the repaving of 22nd Street, which seems like a very valid project,” Butler said. “There are a couple things in this budget I really am not in support of, one being the $50,000 for the Whispers of Hope building, and the electrical substation engineering study. So I will have to vote against this.”