REPORTING · 2nd April 2013
While going through recordings from City Council over the weekend, I found an article which was never posted even after it was written back in February. We apologize for the delay
Council balanced their budget at their committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, February 12th. District Treasurer, Steve Christianson, explained there were several changes which he wished to present to Council from their deliberations in December.
Among the items were the sponsorship for the Coy Cup, some work needing to be done on RCMP Building, the Kitimat Marine Rescue Society request for Council to help sponsor the boat, an update to the emergency plan, the 60th Anniversary celebrations, and the setting up of a new Council Chambers.
To counteract some of the impact on the reserves, the directors decided to shave an additional $445,000 off of their budget. This includes items like the Tamitik roof repair, Fire Department Misc. and putting off hiring for several positions until later in 2013.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know more about the RCMP Operation’s Budget. Tim Gleig, District Engineer stated there is a part of the building which is used for storage. Water has been getting into it. Feldhoff clarified it was a must, not a ‘nice to have’ which came up after the initial discussions.
Christianson told Council they were going to be down one million dollars from last year. First off, there was a grant they were no longer receiving. Second, they had forecast 1,000,000 in building permits for 2012 and expect only $250,000 for 2013. He pointed out the return to the PST would cost the District a lot of money. All of this leads to $1,300,000 which will not be there to spend on the supplemental project list.
Council took a break before going into supplemental. They were each given a document and it was explained to them. They looked at the items one section at a time starting with the Fire Department. Feldhoff put a motion on the table to put money into a reserve but not spend anything on the replacement for Service 11 this year.
Feldhoff stated he saw this as a want, not a need. He felt they should put the money aside, but not do it. “There is a lot of talk about LNG Plants and what have you but there is nothing we can tax yet. There is nothing put in the ground yet,” said Feldhoff.
Fire Chief Trent Bossance explained there were several reasons for this request. The first was that Service 11, which houses the fire department’s technical rescue for high angle and confined space, is now unreliable.
He explained the other unit which is being replaced is a hazmat trailer bought through a JEP Grant. Due to the nature of the grant, they were unable to take their time and had to buy the hazmat trailer right away. They do not have a vehicle to pull it save for Service 11 and it sits outside in the snow because it does not fit in their bay. The goal is to take both units and combine them.
“The health and safety of our community is so important and having the proper tools to do the job is also so important. Sometimes we have to validate by making sure they have the proper tools to do the job,” said Councillor Mary Murphy.
Councillor Corinne Scott wanted to know more about the Fire Department Replacement Vehical plan. Bossance described it as a vicious cycle where one vehicle can be replaced a year and pushing back one truck means the next truck which needs to be replaced also gets pushed back. He hoped the new vehicle would come in under budget. The motion was called and it failed.
There was nothing further in the Fire Department so Council moved into the RCMP and Animal Control where there were questions about duplicate entries. Under Animal Control, Feldhoff pointed out there were several items missing, such as a crematorium and the perimeter fence.
The Crematorium was put on hiatus for two reasons. The first is the people looking after Animal Control would like to see several bylaws the District is working on in place first. Second, most crematoriums use natural gas and this was not available for the moment. They will look at it again in 2014. Feldhoff pointed out there was a motion to receive a report on this.
Murphy said the crematorium was important for many reasons; one was to stop the dumping of animals in the landfill. “I’m surprised it is not a priority on their list anymore but I’d sure like it to be kept a priority on our list,” said Murphy. She was told it was still a priority, just not as high as the bylaws.
On the topic of the perimeter fence, Council was told staff would get back to them.
The next section related to the museum and library. Feldhoff wanted more information about a study to find a leak which has been vexing the Kitimat Museum. Scott inquired about a motion which was made a while ago to put steps down from the Envision Parking lot to the front of the Library. She stated this item was not in the budget. She acknowledged the parking lot belonged to Envision.
Gleig stated the manager of Envision does not have the same objections as the prior manager although she suggested it would be best at the far end closest to the library. Acting Mayor Rob Goffinet suggested looking at both options.
Under recreation, Council made several inquiries about items. Feldhoff said he would like to see the phase two of the bear aware program involves bylaw enforcement. He stated there are many houses which still put out their garbage the night before.
Martin Gould, head of Leisure Services stated the summer students did not have the ability to enforce bylaws but they did take information around the community as well as go around with the Conservation Officers who gave out citations. They wish to start the program earlier this year so they can spend more time in the schools. Gould added the program was well accepted by business owners.
Feldhoff wanted to know about whether or not the Leisure Services Department needed to review their master plan now or if it could be done later. Gould said the last one was done in 2002 and the community has changed.
Feldhoff made a motion to defer it to a future year. While he agreed many things have changed, the community is on the cusp of many things. He suggested looking at bowling allies, and suggested doing the review when the projects have been given the green light from their boards. The motion was called and was carried.
Feldhoff then made a motion to do a deferral of the repairs to the heat ramp trace outside of Riverlodge. He was told the project was already underway, as it was a carryover from last year. The study was nearly complete, the only thing left to do was contract it out. Christianson told him both Riverlodge Ramp and boiler replacement were left over from 2012 so the money is in a reserve. Deferring them would make little difference to the bottom line.
Murphy said safety was a big issue for them. Feldhoff stated he was not against accessibility, but taxation was a concern to many residents in the community. They have managed to get by without the heat working for two years and the seniors centre ramp is heated. The motion was called and was defeated.
Feldhoff wanted to take the pool grouting out of the budget as well. He wanted to know more about about it. Gould told him it was a safety item. If they did not do it, the swimmers would get nicks and cuts in their feet and the number will increase. A pool is done every three to four years and the reports are starting to come in. Gould explained the tiles are sharp and, if this is not addressed, they will start to lose tiles.
“But we’re not at the point where we are talking about losing tiles?” asked Feldhoff.
“No, we are talking purely safety of the patrons,” said Gould.
Feldhoff wanted to know how many people are cutting themselves, Gould said he would go back through the incident reports. Feldhoff moved deferral but there was no seconder.
There were no concerns about the ice rinks. Councillor Edwin Empinado wanted to know more about the Garden Project for Haisla Boulavard. Gould stated they wish to extend the viewpoint garden all the way to Kitimat Village Road as a part of a multiphase project.
Feldhoff asked about extending the water to this site which was also a part of the plan explained to Council. Gould stated there was an irrigation system at the viewpoint which would have to be extended if they wished to extend the view point.
Scott had a question about a plan to hang baskets in the downtown core. Gwen Sewell, community planner explained this is to help identifying the pedestrian street through the downtown core. She pointed out people would be able to appreciate them better when they were walking.
Feldhoff wanted to discuss Radley Park at a future meeting. He stated there have been many reports on the park and there is money set aside for it. He added he supported all of the items but wanted to discuss erosion control.
Goffinet asked a question on the improvements to Centennial Park. Gould told him this year, they would improve the walkways, deal with garden issues and put in some conduit for additional plugs and lighting. They could improve the lighting on the walkways and maybe hang some Christmas lights for the holidays.
The next motion to move the repaving of the Southeast section of Mountainview Square to 2014 also came from Councillor Feldhoff. He stated the people of Kitimat might want recreation activities more. The motion was called and carried.
Councillor Scott asked about the study to upgrade Wakishan Boulevard. She was told the plan was to repave the street, however, Gleig was uncertain if it would be parallel parking, curb and gutter or angled parking, hence the study.
Councillor Edwin Empinado inquired about the plans to change the size of the parking spots for the disabled. Gleig told him it fell under operations. The budget would be taken from that. Feldhoff clarified the Gander Sidewalk would have its drainage fixed and not removed. Gleig stated they were going to do a study on it.
Onto the public works yard, Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to defer its paving. He said they could defer it because they had good quality facilities and the vehicles were in pretty good shape. Councillor Murphy wanted to know what the consequences of deferring this request was. Gleig stated he would get back to her.
Scott said the Public Works Yard was really bad the last time she was in there. Murphy stated the new Councillors walked the areas and there were areas which were in good shape and areas which were in bad shape. The motion was called and failed.
One of the topics Feldhoff wanted to know more about was the study on the landfill. He expressed concern that the people who monitor the dump in Smithers are simply throwing their weight around. He wanted to know if this was required or if they were just trying to force Kitimat to join the regional landfill. The reply came from Gleig that it should be discussed in camera.
While reviewing the Grants, Murphy wanted to make certain the $100,000 Bailout for the Golf Course was still there. She was told there was $50,000 and it was given to them. Feldhoff stated there was an In Camera item related to the Golf Course coming up. Goffinet clarified a report on the Golf Course was still being prepared.
Councillor Corinne Scott asked about Council’s plans for dealing with Recycling and Garbage. She suggested having a recycling pick up and having a future discussion on this topic. Administration stated they did not know what it looked like at this time and it would come back to Council.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to increase the District of Kitimat Scholarships by $500. He stated things were getting more expensive and students need a reward for their hard work. The motion was called and carried.
Feldhoff wanted to know if the improvements to the handicapped fishing hole which we at the Kitimat Daily reported on last summer were coming to pass this year. He was told it was in the budget.
Feldhoff’s next question related to a motion to put a sanitation dump at the Chamber of Commerce. He mentioned it was a motion which came from Murphy although he could not remember what the result was. Gleig told him there was one at the Esso. Murphy stated there had to be some conversation about this at the Chamber.
“It’s something that we’re going to need to look at in the future because the sani-dump we have now is not always to be available to the public and people are very aware of that and you may phone and it will be open for a couple of days. There are difficulties around that whole issue,” said Murphy. Gleig pointed out the Chamber is on a septic tank and thus has problems of it’s own.
Feldhoff thanked the Council for the conversation of the night and the meeting came to a close. The budget would return to Council on Monday, March 11th where the budget was approved by Council, although Feldhoff tried to amend out the paving of the public works yard one more time.
While the budget has been approved, it has not been passed via bylaw yet.