The regular meeting of Grand Forks City Council on Nov. 30 was a busy one.
There were three presentations to very deserving individuals (Neil Krog for placing third in the Canadian Cooking Championships, John Billwiller for 35 years of service with the fire department, and Sasha Bird for her work at the city as manager of development and engineering) and several issues were covered including supporting a water conservation and drought response plan, and the rescinding of the third reading of the water regulation bylaw amendment.
In her councillor’s report, which she read aloud, Chris Hammett said she spoke with biologist Craig MacLean on Nov. 10 about the removal of the deer collars.
“MacLean confirmed that the cost would be more per deer than what we would receive back from the province, and that it would be too dangerous for both the deer and the community to tranquilize unnecessarily for fear that stunned deer could pose a threat to humans and vehicles,” reported Hammett. “He also confirmed that the collars are designed to fall off around the two year mark.”
Old fire truck to be sold
Council voted to waive the requirements of asset disposal policy 805 to allow for the sale of the 1979 Chevy utility fire truck. Dale Heriot, Grand Forks Fire/Rescue chief, told council that the Midway Fire Department has offered to purchase the truck for $1,500. Waiving the policy allows the fire department to sell the truck without having to remove all of the emergency equipment and decaling, which would have eliminated any revenue generated from the sale.
Council unanimously adopted the strategic plan for 2015-19 for the City of Grand Forks. The plan was presented to council during the Nov. 9 Committee of the Whole meeting. The plan involves several key areas: fiscal accountability, economic growth, community engagement and community liveability.
The current mission for the city under the plan is, “The City of Grand Forks is committed to providing quality governance and excellent services that enhance and advance the quality of life for our community.”
The plan lists the strengths of the community as including diversity of populace, culture and heritage, engaged community, location, outdoor recreation and affordability. The weaknesses include air quality, lack of trust in government, empty buildings and not enough local shopping.
Acting mayor appointments
Council voted to designate members of council to serve on a rotating basis as acting mayor during 2015-16: Julia Butler, December 2015 and January 2016; Chris Hammett, February and March 2016; Neil Krog, April and May 2016; Colleen Ross, June and July 2016; Colleen Thompson, August and September 2016; and councillor to be named later (in byelection) October and November 2016.
Council voted 4-1 (Coun. Butler opposed) to support the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan implementation. Council will consider financial support of core implementation and/or project funding for Phase 3 of the plan, through the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) annual requisition. As well, council determined to forward the consideration of funding support to the 2016 budget process.
In a letter to council from RDKB Area D/Rural Grand Forks Director Roly Russell and board chair Grace McGregor, the pair stated that: “As of the end of November, it will be one year since the RDKB endorsed the Kettle River Watershed Managment Plan (Phase 2) and launched it for the benefit of the Kettle River and its communities. The mutual endorsement by the RDKB, City of Grand Forks, other Boundary municipalities and other organizations signaled a significant commitment to continued local leadership in watershed management.”
The letter goes on to say that plan implementation will require continued funding for both coordination (approximately $70,000 through to the end of 2017) and implementation action (amounts to be determined by scope of actions and funding availability).
Two initiatives (among others) of direct interest to Grand Forks are a map-based watershed information system, and the coordinated Water Conservation and Drought Response Plan for the entire Kettle River Watershed.
Urban Forest Management Plan
Council approved (4-1 with Butler opposed) a request from Graham Watt of CommonsPlace Consulting asking to consider entering into a partnership in order to allow the company to obtain funding to support data acquisition and analysis for a Phase 1 inventory for an Urban Forest Management Plan.
In his letter to council, Watt stated that a key component of municipal asset management is “green infrastructure,” which is the role of ecosystems in supporting tangible benefits to society such as dust reduction, cooling, stormwater improvement and carbon sequestration as well as intangible benefits such as beauty and quality of life.
“Treating street trees and the urban forest as an ‘ecological asset’ requires us to keep track of them—developing an inventory, updating the inventory as we plant, prune, or remove trees, and recording conflicts with sidewalks, sewers or other infrastructure components.”
Council received a letter from the Grand Forks and Boundary Regional Agricultural Society and Graham Watt, Learning Garden project team member, thanking the city for their tremendous support and contribution to the development of the Learning Garden at the Grand Forks Aquatic Centre. The team also looks forward to continued support and involvement of the city.
For 2015 funding for the garden, the City of Grand Forks (along with the RDKB) donated the land as well as an estimated $13,000 in kind for the installation of fencing and infrastructure and other support.
City Hall fire update
Council received for information an update on the City Hall fire.
The 2014-18 financial plan included a $300,000 contingency for items not yet approved or not covered by insurance for the City Hall fire. Although the contingency was included in the financial plan, it was agreed that staff would come back to council before spending any. In 2014, $15,000 of the contingency was approved for the City Hall lighting upgrade. In 2015, $10,000 was approved to cover extra furniture not covered by insurance.
Items not covered by insurance added up to a total of $47,377. The largest items are: City Hall lighting upgrade $13,160; Original furniture order $13,767; and $6,661 for wages for set-up of temporary location.
As soon as the claim is complete, council will receive an updated report.
Support for B.C. Pain Society
Council approve sending a letter of support for the B.C. Pain Society, which sponsors and funds the CannaFest music event in Grand Forks. The B.C. Pain Society office is in jeopardy of being closed by new City of Vancouver bylaws. If the office is forced to close, owner Chuck Varabioff would likely not be able to have a five-year CannaFest plan in Grand Forks due to the potential financial impact if the office was forced to close.
Water regulations bylaw
Council rescinded the third reading of the Water Regulations Bylaw (No. 1973-A1) and directed staff to amend the bylaw to allow for new timelines to complete the Universal Water Metering Program by July 31, 2016.
Currently, city staff are working on completing the project with both pit meter and inside meter installations. Under the current bylaw No. 1973, the timelines do not allow for residents that have already signed up for their water meter installation to be installed without being billed. In order to extend the deadline for water meter installation, council needed to rescind the third reading of bylaw No. 1973, which was given at the Aug. 17 regular council meeting.