Sunday, February 28, 2010

Steve Rant - Does the Procedure Bylaw matter at Williams Lake City Hall?

At the last (Feb 16th) Williams Lake Committee of the Whole Council meeting, Councillor Sue Zacharias was permitted to participate in this meeting, via teleconference (electronic means). Normally, I'm for this sort of thing as it allows full Council member participation with 1 or more Council members being away but still allows them to carry out their duties as a member of Williams Lake City Council.

However, in order to take advantage of this, a Council Procedure Bylaw must authorize the use of electronic means (teleconference or webcam) for a Council member's remote participation in a meeting (Regular Council or Council Committee).

Section 128(1) of the Community Charter states:

If this is authorized by procedure bylaw and the requirements of subsection (2) are met...

However, the current Williams Lake Council Procedure Bylaw does not authorize the use of electronic means to allow WL Council members to participate in Council meetings (Regular Council or Council Committee) however Quesnel Council & the Cariboo Regional District have authorized the use of electronic means in their meetings and their members have used this provision at their past meetings

I have emailed both WL Mayor Kerry Cook and WL City Councillor Geoff Bourdon with my concerns about what occurred at the Feb 16th Committee of the Whole meeting (participation of Councillor Zacharias, via teleconference) but quite frankly, I'm not expecting much if any sympathy from them. I very well may have to take this issue up with the Ministry of Community and Rural Development

I would certainly call upon Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook not to allow her Council colleagues to use teleconferencing or other electronic means to participate in WL Council meetings, until such time as WL Council authorizes the use of electronic means in their meetings and formally makes those changes in the Williams Lake Council Procedure Bylaw

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Is the CRD going to be subject to another lawsuit?

On, Thursday, February 11th at 6:03pm until 8:05pm, the Cariboo Regional District Board held an Special In-Camera meeting under Section 90(1)(g) of the Community Charter.

I should note lawyers were present at this meeting before the Board closed the meeting to the public. Presumably, the lawyers were also present in the closed (In-Camera) meeting. If one were to ask any of the 16 Directors of the CRD Board what took place, Directors' rightfully would tell you that they are unable to discuss anything that was debated behind closed doors until such time as the information that was discussed In-Camera has been released to the public.

If the CRD is going to be subject to another lawsuit, then that would be unfortunate given that the CRD Board, in 2009, dealt with a lawsuit pertaining to Area 'F' Director Duncan Barnett.

But I assume at some point, the public will find out why this meeting took place. The minutes of this meeting (the ones that the public can view) are here

Local Government Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin - Week of March 1st - 5th

A number of local governments meetings are occuring this week in the Cariboo-Chilcotin:

Monday, March 1st - City of Quesnel

Meets in Committee of the Whole, then reconvenes into an In-Camera meeting. Meeting starts at 7:00pm in Quesnel Council Chambers

The link to the Agenda is here

Tuesday, March 2nd - City of Williams Lake

Meets in Committee of the Whole. Meeting starts at 6:30pm in Commitee Room #1 at Williams Lake City Hall

The link to the Agenda is here

Thursday, March 4th - City of Williams Lake

Public Budget Meeting #2. Come and provide your input on the City's 2010 Budget to your elected officials and City Staff. The meeting starts at 7:00pm in Williams Lake Council Chambers

Friday, March 5th - Cariboo Regional District

Regular Meeting #3 for 2010. Meeting starts at 9:30am in the CRD Boardroom

The link to the Agenda is here

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Province of BC signs MOU with 'Wood First" Muncipalities

At the BC Forestry Day, the Government of BC and several local governments who have passed a "Wood First" Resolution signed a MOU which commits both parties to a "culture of wood" in BC. The local governments in question are:

  • City of Quesnel
  • City of Prince George
  • City of Campbell River
  • City of Castlegar
  • District of Squamish
  • Village of Fruitvale
  • Village of Nakusp

See the Province of BC press release below:


For Immediate Release

Feb. 23, 2010
Ministry of Forests and Range
Initiatives Prince George Development Corporation


VANCOUVER – During British Columbia’s Forestry Day at the 2010 Olympic Games, mayors of the seven municipalities that have passed Wood First Resolutions in their communities signed a memorandum of understanding with the Province of B.C., announced Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell.

“I want to congratulate the mayors and councils for their vision and leadership,” said Bell. “This co-operation will strengthen our forest dependent communities, help us achieve our climate action goals, and serve as a great example to other provinces and the federal government as we work towards a pan-Canadian Wood First policy.”

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) will see local government become a partner with the Province of British Columbia to grow a culture of wood in the province. Signatories to the MOU include the Cities of Prince George, Quesnel, Campbell River and Castlegar, the District of Squamish, and the Villages of Nakusp and Fruitvale.

The agreement recognizes the opportunity for local governments to become wood champions and support the Government of British Columbia’s Wood First Act by advocating for the adoption of Wood First resolutions by municipalities throughout B.C.

“Developing a culture of wood and showcasing the opportunities for structural and architectural use of wood in Prince George is core to our vision to grow northern B.C. as a knowledge-based resource economy connected to the world,” said Tim McEwan, president and CEO, Initiatives Prince George Development Corporation. “The leadership shown by local governments to pursue a wood first policy objective is an important step forward to realizing our vision.”

“As B.C.’s northern capital, and a community that continues to be very much dependant on the resources around us, it’s extremely important for the City of Prince George to take a leadership role in promoting the benefits of building with wood culture both within our city as well as beyond our city limits,” said Prince George Mayor Dan Rogers. “From an environmental perspective, this effort aligns well with the City’s goals to become one of the most resilient and sustainable cities in the country. Building with wood has long been a priority for the City of Prince George. Now that broad statement is going to be backed up with policy changes that align with what the Province is doing to maximize the use of wood in all public construction projects.”

Initiatives Prince George Development Corporation and the City of Prince George have taken the lead role in the development of the MOU.

“We’re proud to have pledged to develop a wood first bylaw and are equally proud to be a partner in this initiative,” said Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom. “We want to further enhance our culture of wood. By working regionally we can devise new opportunities and partnerships to forge a stronger and more diverse future.”

The communities commit to the further development of policy that will encourage and promote the primary use of wood in municipal structures and also develop a culture of wood among architects, designers and engineers. The mayors of these communities have also agreed to work with the Union of BC Municipalities in order to achieve benefits available to communities through the expanded use of wood.

Mackenzie Avenue Rehab Project passes AAP Process

WL Tribune reports that the Mackenzie Avenue Rehab Project has now officially passed the AAP (Alternative Approval Process) Process. 16 Voters registered opposition to the City borrowing up to $3.5 million for the project

More info here

Update - WL Council has adopted Bylaw 2108 (Mackenzie Avenue Rehab Project Borrowing Bylaw) - more info here

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Steve Rant - NCLGA Resolution on School District Funding

WL Council at its' Tuesday meeting will consider submitting a NCLGA (North Central Local Government Association) Resolution on School District funding for consideration at the 2010 NCLGA Conference in Houston ,BC

I believe what Council is doing is fundamentally wrong. There is the "unspoken" rule that local governments do not get involved directly on school board matters. After all, that is why you elect a 7-member Board of Education. If local governments (regional district boards/municipal councils') are prepared to get involved in school board matters (funding, closure of schools, etc) then let's do what Diana French suggested in one of her previous columns in the Williams Lake Tribune and dissolve all school boards and transfer responsibility to regional district boards as they cover the same region as some school boards (like Cariboo-Chilcotin and Quesnel combined) and redirect those dollars in education.

Otherwise, let's recognize that locally elected Boards' of Education are responsible for the running of schools and advocating for ensuring that sufficient dollars are available from Victoria to run the local school district. The Boards' of Education also have advocacy groups (like NCLGA and UBCM) to help advance their causes to Victoria and let local government deal with matters that they are both charged with, from Victoria, and to which they were elected to do

Friday, February 19, 2010

City of WL 2010 Budget Meeting #2

The City of Williams Lake will be hosting its' second Public Budget Meeting on Thursday, March 4th, 2010 at 7:00pm in Williams Lake City Council Chambers

The purpose of the meeting is to provide residents, businesses and interested organizations an opportunity to understand the 2010 Municipal Budget process and to share ideas with City Council. Budget issues being considered by Council include utility rates, tax rates, capital expenditures and operational expenditures

If you can make this meeting, I encourage all residents' of Williams Lake to attend and provide your input to Council as it develops the City's 2010 Budget

Local Government Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin - Week of Feb 22 - 26, 2010

There are upcoming local government meetings this week in the Cariboo-Chilcotin:

Monday, Feb 22/2010 - City of Quesnel

They are meeting in a "Delegation/Committee of the Whole" Session, followed by a Special Open Meeting to consider 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading of Quesnel's Wood First Bylaw and submission of Resolutions for debate at the 2010 NCLGA (North Central Local Government Association) Conference in Houston, BC.

The link to the Agenda is here

Tuesday, Feb 23/2010 - City of Williams Lake

This will be a Regular Meeting of Council

The link to the Agenda is here

City of Quesnel to introduce a "Wood First Bylaw" on Monday

On Monday, Quesnel Council will consider a report from their City Manager to give 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Reading to their Wood First Bylaw. The bylaw contains clauses which include favourable consideration to those projects which demostrate a unique use to wood as the primary building material when the project is being financed by City of Quesnel tax dollars and use of local wood within a 75 km radius of Quesnel

I suspect that if Quesnel Council does pass this bylaw, jurisdictions like Prince George, Campbell River and even Williams Lake will seriously look at passing a similar Bylaw to work hand-in-hand with their passed Wood First Resolutions

You can find the draft bylaw here

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Steve Rant - Mackenzie Ave Rehab AAP Process

Recently, in a City Page Ad, the City of WL published a FAQ List of Questions pertaining to the Mackenzie Avenue Rehab Project.

In it, the City defends the project as being fiscally responsible and noted that residents' should not oppose this project as it would be "fiscally irresponsible" to oppose the borrowing of money connected to 2/3's fiscal support from Ottawa & Victoria

Quite frankly, I think the City should be ashamed for use that kind of language. I, as a voter/taxpayer, can perfectly decide on my own, what is and is not "fiscally responsible" projects, which I would suggest that the Mackenzie Avenue Rehab Project and steps to date (including no plan has to how the road will be repaired - a right of voters' before saying yay/nay on a borrowing bylaw) as being "fiscally irresponsible".

By at the end of the day, I suspect less than the 747 voters needed to block Council from adopting a bylaw to authorize borrowing up to $3.5 million for the Mackenzie Avenue Rehab Project will register a "no" vote

Steve Rant - Outcome of Feb 2nd Committee of the Whole Meeting (WL Council)

In late November of 2009, I'd asked Councillor Rathor to put forward a "Wood First Resolution" knowing that because he works in the forest industry, he would make a excellent advocate on Council to ensure its' passage.

Then at the Feb 2nd Committee of the Whole Meeting, Councillor Surinder Rathor asked the Committee to endorse a "Wood First Resolution", similar to what Quesnel Council passed in November of 2009. As an aside, PG Council recently passed a "Wood First Resolution" as well.

However, Councillors Zacharias & Montoya and Mayor Cook refused to endorse it that night, but agreed it needed further research. Concerns expressed include:

  • Resolution may violate bidding rules
  • Concern it might invite a lawsuit upon the City
  • Concern it might be used to build a 20 story wood building (currently prohibited by the BC Building Code)

To this, I say shame on them. All 3 concerns are completely invalid because if they were anywhere near truthful, Quesnel and PG Councils' would never pass the language contained in a "Wood First Resolution" but because these 2 City Councils' passed a "Wood First Resolution" in similar language, the concerns of Mayor Cook Councillors Zacharias and Montoya can not be identified as being true. Instead, I believe that Councillor Zacharias is allowing her thoughts on this file to be heavily influenced by her association with the BC Construction Association, which is well on record as being opposed to the Wood First Act (the instigator of the Wood First Resolution)

I should note that Councillor Barr stated Mayor Cook and Councillors Zacharias & Montoya's concerns with the proposed Williams Lake "Wood First Resolution" as being "much ado about nothing"

I would strongly urge Mayor Cook and Councillors Zacharias, Bourdon, and Montoya to pass the Wood First Resolution, as proposed by Councillor Rathor, as it is the right thing to do and shows great respect for one of the three major industries in the Central Cariboo Region

Local Government Meetings in Cariboo-Chilcotin - Week of Feb 8-12th

A number of local government meetings are occuring in the Cariboo-Chilcotin this week:

Monday, Feb 8th - City of Quesnel

Tuesday Feb 9th - City of Williams Lake

Friday, Feb 12 - Cariboo Regional District,%202010/agenda.htm

Committee of the Whole (WL Council) Highlights - Feb 2nd, 2010

WL Committee of the Whole Highlights – Feb 2/2010 (Meeting held in Committee Room #1 – WL City Hall)


Mayor Cook, Deputy Mayor Rathor and Councillors Montoya, Zacharias, Barr and Bourdon


Councillor Laurie Walters

Staff Present:

Brian Carruthers – CAO
Cindy Bouchard – Manager of Legislative Services
Anne Burill – Social Development Manager (left meeting at 6:40pm)
Darcy Lazzarin – General Manager of Corporate Services
Lilliana Dragowska – City Planner (left meeting at 6:40pm)
Jeff Bernardy – Engineering Technologist

Meeting called to order at 6:30pm

Minutes of Jan 19th, 2010 COW Meeting adopted

Item D2 – Social Development Manager & Planner – Verbal Update on Innovator’s Summit

City Planner and Social Development Manager advised the Committee on plans for an Innovator’s Summit

Item A2 – WL RCMP Detachment Annual Performance Plan for 2010/2011

Staff Sgt Warren Brown reviewed with the Committee Plans/Priorities of WL RCMP for 2010

A Question and Answer period ensued with the Committee

Mayor Cook, on behalf of the Committee, thanked Staff-Sgt Warren Brown for his presentation

Item D1 – Commercial Access Study for Prosperity Ridge – report from TRUE Consulting

A Powerpoint Presentation ensued

A Question and Answer Period ensued

The Committee then recommended to Council:

“That Council receive the Commercial Access Study, Summary Report prepared by TRUE
Consulting Group dated January 15th, 2010; and further;

That Council direct staff to work with the Ministry of Transportation and the Pioneer
Development Group to identify a preferred access option and potential funding scenarios and report back to Council.”


Item A1 – North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) – Resolution Deadline of March 5th

The Committee reviewed ideas to submit as Resolutions for debate at the 2010 NCLGA Conference:

• Drugs & Mental Addictions Facility
• Possible Loss of French Immersion Program

CRD Board to be advised of above to prevent duplication
Item to return to next Committee of the Whole Meeting for further discussion

Item F1 – 2010 City of WL Draft Budget Review

Review of Revenue and Expenditures to date

Revenue vs Expenditure Gap of $750,000. Next Budget meeting on either Monday Feb 15 or Wednesday Feb 17. Staff to coordinate with Council members

The Committee discussed targets for property taxes increases and utility rate increases for 2010 for budgeting purposes.

Property Tax Increase (Target Range) – 3-5%
Utilities Rate Target Increase – 25%

Item D3 – Report of Councillor Rathor re: Wood First Resolution

The Committee discussed Councillor Rathor’s report on a Wood First Resolution

The Committee agreed to refer Councillor Rathor’s report to Public Works & Development Services Portfolio for review and the Wood First Resolution be considered at the March 9th Council meeting

Councillor Rathor opposed


The meeting adjourned at 8:33pm