Grand Forks will have a winter caretaker for the Municipal Campground, despite disagreement from two city councillors.
Council gave final reading to the amendment to have a winter caretaker at the Nov. 6 regular council meeting. It was one of three requests from city Corporate Services for campground bylaw and policy updates, the other two being given final reading to campground regulation repeal bylaw 2026-R, and for council to rescind Campground Policy 1206-A1.
Mayor Everett Baker, Councillors Christine Thompson, Zak Eburne Stoodley, Neil Krog and Deborah Lafleur voted in favour of a winter caretaker, while Councillors David Mark and Rod Zielinski voted against. Council voted all in favour for the other two recommendations.
Councillor Zielinski didn’t hide his disappointment with the city moving to have a Municipal Campground winter caretaker, especially after he read the amendments and was taken aback by the sheer number of them.
“I have to say I am disappointed, sad really, about this,” he said. “I’ve never seen a bylaw with a laundry list of exceptions at the end of it. We have to be crafty to word our bylaws accordingly. Looking at other municipalities I’ve never seen others with a whole list of exceptions. And I’m really disappointed Council would approve a position like this without knowing hours of work, without a job description, without having a wage and without advertising.”
He reiterated that it doesn’t matter who it is, it’s below human standards that they would make staying in an onsite RV without heat or sewage hookups for the winter a condition for employment.
The city is keeping current campground attendant Joan Heart, who is under contract.
Councillor Deborah Lafleur pointed out Heart asked to be allowed to stay on as the caretaker. Cutting off her job now would leave her unhoused.
Zielinski rebutted by pointing out the city could house the caretaker at a nearby Rivershore Mobile Home Park where she would at least have basic services like heat and washing facilities.
Councillor Mark said he echoes many of Zielinski’s concerns, adding the city creates jobs to fill a need, not create positions for specific people. Even if Heart is a good fit and wants the job, it should’ve been advertised.
In terms of RV’s being suitable longer-term living spaces, CAO Duncan Redfearn pointed out the city has approved people to live in RVs multiple times. The city extended an offer to Heart to provide some added security in the area.