JULY 22 GRAND FORKS CITY COUNCIL: City votes to spend $15K on WildSafeBC program

The issue of deer was discussed by Grand Forks city council again at its July 22 meeting.

Grand Forks city council (from left) Michael Wirischagin

At the July 22 regular city council meeting, Grand Forks city council discussed ways of dealing with the problematic deer issue around town, including a controversial deer education program. The program, entitled WildSafeBC, is run by the B.C. Conservation Foundation and is designed to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

Coun. Cher Wyers suggested council take the issue to the September Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Vancouver, B.C., while Coun. Gary Smith wanted the city to have the “teeth to fine people (who feed deer).” Coun. Bob Kendel said that the best and fastest education is to implement the WildSafeBC program.

“Some of the councillors feel we should be saying ‘no’ to getting involved in the cost of it and going to (the provincial) government and saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got a responsibility here to assist us and share the cost’,” said Mayor Brian Taylor. “On the other side, you’ve got government saying, ‘You’ve got the apple orchards that are unfenced; the gardens they get into that feed the deer.’ There (are) various responsibilities on us as citizens. The government is pointing to us and saying that if you can change things in your community the deer problem would be mitigated.”

Taylor said the deer problem in Grand Forks is certainly not unique in the province. It’s a problem in so many communities, he said.

“It’s a very costly matter (for the provincial government) to get involved,” said Taylor.

He said the starting point with dealing with the deer issue is education.

To that end, council carried a motion to spend $15,000 on the WildSafeBC focusing on white-tail deer.

Variance permit delayed

After carrying a motion to approve a variance permit for a property on 12th Street at the July 22 meeting, council later voted to table the motion after hearing a complaint from a neighbour.

The development variance permit would allow the property owners to construct a 74-square metre garage/storage building.

A concerned resident said he had received a letter from the city stating he could come to city council to voice any complaints about the permit.

Mayor Brian Taylor said the city does not hold public hearings for minor variances.

“There was no public hearing. What he was sent was just a letter stating this was taking place, not that there was a public hearing,” said Taylor. “But that is confusing. That’s why we backed it up. I think governments need to be flexible enough so that when you get yourself into a corner, you don’t just forget the customers, who are the people we serve. It’s not hurting anyone to back up and hear from both parties who are concerned.”

The resident and the property owner are expected to meet with Sasha Bird, the City of Grand Forks manager of development and engineering.

Bird will then make a recommendation to council for a final decision on the variance.

Economic development

During the council reports Councillors Kendel and Smith both gave a recap of a recent visit to an economic development conference.

“It was all the economic development officers and representatives from various ministries all in attendance,” said Smith. “It was a real melting pot of ideas and policies that different communities around the province have in place. We were pretty much the only two politicians there but we were welcomed.”

As the chairs of the Grand Forks Economic Development Committee, the two councillors wanted to gain insight into what was going on throughout the province.

Smith thought the conference was worthwhile with some very intense but educational presentations from experts from throughout B.C.

The pair was able to show off the new branding for the city and were very pleased with the positive feedback.

“We had great feedback – hands down, it was all positive,” said Smith.

Bylaw readings

Council looked at several city bylaws as part of its continuing effort to streamline.

Repealed were bylaw numbers 1979 (traffic regulations), 1980 (municipal ticketing information), 1981 (park access), 1982 (unsightly premise), 1983 (noise control), 1985 (minimum maintenance standards) and 1986 (fire and life safety).

Seeing final reading at the meeting were rewritten bylaw numbers 1956 (new traffic regulations), 1957 (new municipal ticketing information), 1959 (new park access), 1962 (new unsightly premises), 1963 (new noise control), and 1965 (new fire and life safety).

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