Council Meeting Live Blog – Canal Beach, Bulldogs and Community Gardens

logoThe live blog is about to commence.

Richard Berg comes up first for the public input period – on the bulldogs:

- Says they are $300,000 in debt. Have seven years interest free. “There’s no way they can pay back that debt”.

Councillor Chopra is up next – Inviting people to the Kamagato Maru Anniversary held by the Multi-Cultural Society.

Next Guy Cicon is introducing the new streets superintendent who hails from Smithers.

Next up is Cathy Rothwell, Director of Finance, accepting the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting for this years report. She makes the point of accepting it on behalf of her staff.

Next up is BC Assessment explaining how the Assessment works.

How does Port Alberni Assessments compare to other communities?
Port Alberni is $188,000 – (Seeing list in PPT) significantly lower than others. $60,000 less than next lowest. Showed good comparisons of low, medium and high value homes in Nanaimo, Parksville and Port Alberni. Per square-foot, Port Alberni is significantly less cost than all other south island areas.
Paraphrase: “Nanaimo is step up from Port Alberni for cost, Victoria is step up from Nanaimo, Vancouver is step up from Victoria”.

Councillor Chopra notes that the City gets lots of calls about peoples assessments. Rep says they get lots of calls too. :)
Councillor McLeman echoes the frustration of Council for their inability to really address peoples concerns. Asks whether there was a recent appraisal. Representative notes they recently did a full re-appraisal of the City (didn’t say when).
Councillor Solda asks if BC Assessment has considered public info sessions before the assessments are put out so folks can ask questions.

—– Note —- The presentation isn’t in the Agenda, this is something that other municipal boards require

Air Quality Update for Port Alberni is next:
- Lost a flow of information when the local Air Quality Council folded (?) Hope it returns soon
- Biggest source of air quality concerns is Fine Particulates. Measured as 2.5 micron (eg. “PM2.5″)
- Current site is at Alberni Elementary School – measured significant levels of PM2.5 in 2008-2010
- Because of the results of that monitoring, Env. Ministry asked Catalyst to install a meteorological and air quality monitoring tower.
- Measures weather values and particulate.
- Catalyst also asked to install an SO2 monitor in December. Very low sulphur concentrations have been found so far (7 parts per billion compared to 170 warning threshold)

- MAML is a mobile monitoring lab that they have been trying to get into Port Alberni for a number of years. Now installed at the Fire Department. All data is on bcairquality.ca
- measures PM2.5, SO2, O3, NO and NO2… $300,000 worth of equipment!

Now showing examples of past few years of Particulate measurements. Big diff between fall/winter and spring/summer. The last few years were getting better but 2013 very bad. Highest number of officially ‘bad’ days recorded since 2008.

Showing information where Bernadette Wyton did a very detailed whole City survey of exact Air Quality. Wow! Very interesting information! Maps will be available soon!

He’s seen positive incremental steps to help with air quality. Residential wood burning stove programs, bylaws and exchange, have helped. Exchange is coming back next year.

Councillor Kerr asks what effect the District Energy project would have on Air Quality. Rep notes that it would depend mostly on the fuel. The more consistent the fuel, the better.

Councillor McLeman: Thinks we have pretty good air. (Compared to Beijing)

Councillor Solda: Asks about pellet stove. Rep says because it is consistent rate of fuel they can be very good very clean technology. Conventional wood stove, pre 1994 would emit 60-80g/hr of particulate. New EPA Wood Stove emits 6-8g/hr and pellet stove 2-3g/hr.

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Sharie Minions and Jeanette Cormier is up now on behalf of Young Professionals of Alberni Valley to talk community gardens! Considered many options for locations. Picked the 3rd/4th Avenue area as a place that needed a little attention and the neighbourhood is very supportive. Approached businesses and residents. Only received extremely positive feedback. Talking with the Friendship Centre. Check details on the Agenda.

The area will be fenced in about 60 by 85ft. Keep deer and other ‘critters’ out. 18-20 raised beds. Rental will be a nominal fee. Hoping there will be an educational component as well. Worst case scenario will be around $5000, no funding needed from the City for it. Have been approached by many to help with supplies and things.

Asking for a lease of the property from the City. Asking for use of the public water tap. Asked to be also included in the City liability insurance.

Ken Watson explains insurance: Have 3rd party liability and it usually has to be covered by lessees but they will be investigating to see if the City can take that liability.

Council moves to support in principal the community garden.

Councillor Chopra appreciates that YPAV has gone about it all in the right way and no money is being asked for.

Councillor Solda, McLeman and Kerr also show support.

They will be starting as soon as possible.

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Now going through regular business and letters… consult the agenda. :)

Councillor Solda asks about the Ducks Unlimited letter about prohibition of discharging firearms in the Somass Estuary (geese control on farmland). Council isn’t sure what to do with the letter. Is considering referring the question to staff so they get more information. Votes to do so.

On the letter about Canal Beach – Councillor Washington recuses himself.
Councillor McLeman brings up fact zoning is not changing.
City Manager – A letter of interest was received from Port Authority after RFP in December. Alberni Engineering and PAPA pursued that afterwards. If there was a lease City would be required to advertise the lease at a minimum. The City is currently negotiating the lease with the Port Authority.

Roland Smith letter about Bulldogs received.

Late Item from Glen Walushka on Quay of Sea – Councillor McLeman asks if Mr. Walushka is here. He doesn’t mind endorsing the motion. Didn’t find letter informative. Council supports, in principle, the festival at the Quay. Councillor Solda asks why he wouldn’t go to July 1st festivities at Glenwood.

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Now we are into general letters…

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Councillor Chopra asks about Flood Protection Program for Dry Creek. Guy Cicon details the grant the City has received after many years of applying. 1.8Million is from Federal and Provincial. The City will have to come up with the other 1/3rd ($900,000). Must be spent (constructed) before March 2016. It was expected to come before budget was closed, but it did not. The late announcement is going to cause problems for construction and budgeting. Engineering will be quickly working through to make sure it can happen in time period. The work is budgeted in the 2015 budget. City manager indicates if that needs to change it will be brought to Council. Engineering will work on detailed report for next meeting.

Councillor Solda asks about Gaming Funding…. no big news.

Councillor McLeman speaks in favour of ALR.

Councillor Kerr supports letter to Port Alberni as a retirement community. Also happy to see Scott Fraser bringing McLaughlin Ridge to forefront. “Anyone who supports clean water” should be concerned.

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UNFINISHED BUSINESS – Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

From the Agenda:

The Bulldogs debt to the City is as follows:
• Current outstanding monthly rental payments $50,017
• June & July payments to the end of the current term $9,068
• Current additional charges (mostly 2013 & 2014 playoffs) $10,042
• Current concession sales revenue sharing credit Jan- Mar 2014-$5,589

TOTAL 2013-2014 season balance owing $63,538

Scott Kenny is speaking on the issue.
Last payment received was $10,000 in January was portion of lottery money. It was put towards their ice time. City is profit sharing with team. “Basically team is a year behind” in payments.

Options are:

Deny the request to reduce rental fees by 50% and continue to invoice for the balance owing according the existing agreement. – this could place team success in jeopardy

Approve the request to reduce rental fees and charges by 50% for the current operating year and remaining two seasons. – Because the team is a for-profit entity it cannot give advantage to a for-profit business. “It would not be agreeable under terms of Community Charter”.

Deny the request to reduce the current debt but proceed with the 50% reduction in rental rates for the remaining two years of the Agreement.

Approving a reduction in revenues will mean a reworking of Multiplex budget. Staff recommends reducing 50% reduction. (option 2)

Kenny says (after Q from Mayor) push for more sponsorship and season tickets will be known by end of June so better information then.

Councillor McLeman asks if they could ask question of AVJHS and Bulldogs. Lucas Banton, Darren Deluca and Assistant GM of Bulldogs taking questions. Bulldogs are going to ACRD tomorrow for sponsorship. Banton says it could affect whether players stay or go with the team. City will be ‘high’ on priority list to get money back and pay debt. Says Society has been open with Council and City with financial.

Councillor McLeman asks about $300,000 debt. Deluca: “We don’t see that as an urgent debt… cheap money.”. Looking to retire debt with Community Futures in 2-3 years. Using Lottery increases to help fund travel, accommodation, and operating.

Councillor Chopra asks directly what proportion with they pay back the City debt. Deluca says: “don’t have a specific number” but willing to sit down as condition of approval to work that out.

Note: I’m impressed with Council here. Good questions, tough questions.

Councillor Chopra asks if the Bulldogs can give a monthly rent cheque. Banton says they will be able to pay amount December 2014 of ongoing. Outstanding debt right now would be payed after that. City would be ‘first in line’.

Chopra: Is City able to pay month to month ($500) and not be in trouble. Deluca says yes they would.

Solda: 60% of the grant being asked at the ACRD tomorrow will be coming from the City (because it is a weighted vote). Solda will be asking whether Council wants to support that grant in addition to this question of reduction. Solda is not sure what to do.

Deluca: “Take a look at the bigger picture” – “Would lose concession revenues $90,000 a year” – “Lose Jobs” – “A lot of loses to the Community” – “It’s only for two year… I don’t think it’s that big a hit compared to the loss”.

Solda: Asking Scott Kenny about effects on Multiplex… if we lose bulldogs.

Kenny: Concessions operate at a loss. There are no big numbers for revenue. The loss would be the part time staffing. We were doing very well when team was doing well and before liquor law changes. Now that has changed. The facility operatesin the red. 55% covered. Most of the revenues comes from ice rentals. The primetime ice would be easier to fill up. Friday and Saturday and weeknights will be easier to fill. Practice times (bulldogs) will be harder to fill and would be potential loss (200 hours per year). He (Kenny) can’t put a hard number on the loss to the community.

Washington: Brings up that it is the Alberni Valley Bulldogs… Valley being key. Great for kids for role models.

Cole: He supports the request and wants to make a decision tonight. This is a small amount to show support for community that draws people to town (compared to other requests). Believes men’s leagues would fill prime times and would eventually godown to one ice sheet without Bulldogs.

Kerr: Would *like* to support Bulldogs and all of community benefits. Asks “Why did it take so long for you to come to us”. Would have appreciated to have them come earlier when the AVJHS did not reach their funding requirements.

Banton: New directors coming on taking on big task of trying to keep the City there. To learn the business takes 2-3 years. It was not an easy decision for the Board to make to come to the City. Wanted to make sure the books were 100% good to go and were making improvements. We are just asking if we can keep some of our revenue to get a little bit stronger.

Deluca: Looking opening up membership to general public this year. Membership will be opening up to volunteers with the Society and to season ticket holders. City, School Board, Chamber and Minor Hockey will be asked to appoint directors to the Board.

Chopra: The motion right now is only to receive.

Mayor asks how exactly it will impact budget… Kenny: Impact for 2014 so would have to amend 2014 budget. $25,000 would be the hit in terms of revenue for 2014. Debt would be up to $63,000… would take us to July.

Council receives the motion.

Councillor Solda moves to table the motion. The Council supports that motion so no decision is made to reduce the fees.

Councillor McLeman moves to support the Bulldogs at the ACRD for their grant. (but it sounds as though that would not be enough to ‘save’ the Bulldogs as per the request of the Society)

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Council is proposing putting a cap of $3.5 Million on the Equipment Replacement Fund. Finance Director says Fund is currently at proper funding level right now. Have significant equipment replacements coming up. 2% increase in contributions will sustain ERF properly.

Kerr asks to explain the graph.

ERRF graph

Red line show value of the fleet over time.

Blue line shows actual fund level and projected if they do as recommended and where it dips below the red line which means it is not enough to support what is needed based on the demand.

Bars are specific amounts to be replaced… red blocks are transfers out of the fund to put into City road constructions.

Where the blue line sort of levels out is what Staff believes the City could manage.

Kerr asks if 33% (the red line) is what other communities do. Watson says not sure if there is an actual number, but is what is recommended based on City staff and experience. Watson mentions that road reconstruction could have its own replacement fund as well. Chopra speaks in favour of the fund as the proper way to fund replacements. Kerr and McLeman speak in favour of the motion on the cap.

Council votes the motion on the cap down.

Council votes on a motion to keep the recommended fund levels at 33%.

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Next Up: Sign Bylaw – minor changes to match with zoning bylaws.

McLeman notes that current sign bylaw might not be viewed as very ‘business friendly’. Suggests that it might be an advantage to the City to have a business like the Gaming Centre to have a large sign to be able to attract people off of Johnston.

Council votes to Table the motion so that it can be considered.

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Now… cheques…
Note: I’m at 26% battery life. So hoping the laptop can last through to the end.

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Council is voting on whether to create a Committee:

That Council for the City of Port Alberni establish a Select Committee known as the Community Forest Legacy Committee with the purpose of recommending to Council a project of benefit to Alberni Valley residents that funds arising to the City from the Alberni Valley Community Forest Corporation (AVCF) will be reserved for; that the Terms of Reference for the Committee be endorsed as presented; and that Councillor Washington (as liaison to AVCF) and Councillor _______________ be appointed to the Committee.

Councillor Kerr is suggesting that these funds be gathered for the pool for its replacement and to skip the Committee. Councillor McLeman supports directing it to the pool but would like to follow through with public consultation through the Committee. Chopra would like to make sure that any debt at the AVCF be retired first and then surplus funds be put toward a pool fund.

Solda and Cole (Cole and McLeman would be on the committee) suggest it could be split to the pool and other programs.

Watson notes that the terms of reference would come with a singular legacy project, not a bunch of different projects.

Council votes for the motion.

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Moving on (10PM!) to Johnston street pruning trees and garbage cans.

Lots of talk about the concerns of business about the trees and look of the trees. Solda speaks passionately for improvements on that corridor that the City can make.

Kerr asks about using the Carbon fund to help fund pop and bottle containers to be placed beside trash cans so as to make sure the recyclables are recycled. Kenny says they are getting a number of recycling receptacles from the Return-It depot.

Motion is passed to prune the trees… doesn’t move on garbage cans. (I think, starting to move very quickly and your writer is getting a little foggy :) )

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BC Transit – Is wanting to extend the contract of the current transit provider. Motion passed.

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Now voting on moving from a short term loan for the sewage project (purchasing of the Catalyst lagoons) to a long term long… standard procedure.
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Flying through reports now….

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City Engineer reported on his experience… notes a bear activity is being reported by the Conservation Office and to encourage the public to use the bear clips on their garbage cans. Bear was found rifling through garbage in a can that had clips, but not secured.

Bainbridge water treatment plant RFP is happening very soon and will be complete in a few weeks.

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Mayor’s Report

Mayor notes that a pedestrian crossing will be put in under the new Redford extension bridge. Workers and City Staff have also found the old right of way for the water that comes from the hole in the wall so that could link in with trail systems.

Ocean Networks – Talked to them about educational projects that could be at Canal Beach. May also establish some monitoring equipment off the old pier help local schools and DFO.

Coffee with Council and Mayor at the PAFD on Wednesday.

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Regional District report (Solda/McLeman)

Nothing big.
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Councillor Reports –

Councillor Chopra talks about WFP and the shooting in Nanaimo and many connections in Port Alberni.

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Question Period –

Question about Plywood Site: What is happening with the site… council

Questin about Plywood Site: Watson says: Lease is being negotiated in private as is normal for leases. Two weeks in advance from vote lease would be notice.

Question to confirm that the City does not intend any further public input.

Question how could public could get more involved… Mayor notes could ask the Port Authority as well.

Councillor Cole notes that there is public process for changing OCP land uses in City and that the current use is as designated in the OCP.
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Moving on to Sponsorship Revenues, council moves to go to RFP for Sponsorship funds.

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Councillor McLeman will attend Community Forest Meeting

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Councillor Kerr and McLeman and Mayor all present notices of motion.

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Adjourned! Phew!

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One Response to Council Meeting Live Blog – Canal Beach, Bulldogs and Community Gardens

  1. Bill Brown says:

    Thanks again for this Chris – great report!

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