It was another long day for the members of council and their staff.
It began with the Committee Of The Whole at 9AM. As with the previous two COTW meetings that ran past noon necessitating a lunch break.
The first thing you might notice that’s out of the ordinary is that all the council is wearing Pink Tee-shirts. That’s to recognize Anti-Bullying Day coming up on Wednesday. You might also see some more of the public in the gallery. A few of the people that came around over the last few meetings have returned … It appears they’re using public information sources and schooling themselves up on topics like water systems and local government. That’s a start – hopefully they’ll stick around when council moves on to other things beyond the issues they care about.
Next you’ll see that representatives from Urban Systems were on hand to receive an Official Thank You from the city for all the service they’ve given to the city over the years,
The Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce was there to make a proposition to the city. The Chamber is there to support businesses and by implication Cities and Communities in this region. Organizations like this are often under-funded – this one is relatively young and could use any funds it can find. They’re making a bid to get some of the fees that the city collects for business licenses … think of that as the ‘fees’ for the ‘service’ they provide if you will. This is the first major item in the agenda and you can watch it below in the first part of the meeting. Interestingly the discussion included conversation about who should do the follow up on licensees that do not respond to the renewals letter. In past years conversation in council has shown that it almost costs the city as much to pursue the late licenses as they collect in fees … I wish the Chamber luck in keeping the costs down.
Next up (13:45) was Urban Systems to give a presentation on our Draft Water Supply Plan. It is a long segment (over an hour) – the presentation is only part of it. There were a number of questions and points from the public and council. If you want to know how the system works this is one way to learn more. Another way is to do what members of the public did and come down and ask questions.
Unfortunately at 51:09 into the meeting our broadcast system experienced a glitch and there was no video or sound until 54:22 … our apologies. But the missing part was only missing from the webcast – it was recorded and is reproduced in a window at the end of this post.
The Committee of the Whole meetings (recorded live) Feb 24, 2014
The 2nd part began with Sue Adrain from the Boundary Museum giving their proposed 2014 budget. A few years back the city began a transition from a Grant-In-Aid system to a Fee-For-Service system. Under the old system an entity like the museum, or art gallery, would get some financial support from the city. In return they would do what they do and report to the city about what they’ve done and what they plan to do. Under the new system they are obliged to come up with a list of services they provide and that the city agrees to pay for. Then when they come before council they show how they’ve fulfilled those obligations. And council can interrogate them on aspects of that. Whether or not this results in an improved arrangement depends on how you value various aspects of the institution. In some sense the new system gives council more power over the hows, whys and wherefors. Case in point is the Art Gallery. Their obligations dictate a museum function which they see their Heritage Gallery fulfilling. The previous council did not agree and chopped out that part of their funding. Similarly an organization like the Museum, which used to be inside the city and is now outside the city, must ensure that what it proposes to do will be of some utility to the city or risk underfunding.
At 15:16 in they begin discussing a request from the Rec Commission for land improvements to the property between the Skateboard Park and the Aquatic Center. They’d like to see some grassing and possibly a small playground. Back in the 90s the city got rid of a playground that was part of Dick Bartlett Park.
Then the bulk of the rest of the meeting had to do with the aspects of the draft 2014-2018 Financial Plan. Interesting things come out of this … did you know we’re going to do some billboard advertising? And what’s happened to the promotional video? Those get asked about 1:30:00 into the meeting.
Near the end (1:40:47) Anya Soroka from the Boundary District Arts Council reminded council of a decision on council’s back burner regarding funding support. Since BDAC needs local matching funds for a main funding grant that money’s availability is in some doubt while council puts off deciding.
In the last part it’s all the 2014-2018 Financial Plan.
At the end is question period and after some clarification to residents about the city’s electrical utility. yours truly gets to ask the question that is running around as a rumour: Is McDondalds coming to town? (see and listen at 59 minutes into the meeting)
In the evening they had the regular meeting. While the gallery was pretty full the agenda was sparse: aside from council reports and COTW referred business there were no Bylaws and only one recommendation from staff.
BUT there was a presentation at the beginning to ‘our next mayor’ young Jacob Noseworthy to congratulate him on his participation in the youth parliament.
Our apologies to Councillor Wyers – the audio cut out for 2 minutes in her report (from 14:01 to 16:35). She did make two motions:
- the first to do some sort of official thank you for the city staff assistance with the Family Day events.
- the second is to send an official letter of congratulations to Russia for the hosting a successful Olympic Games recently held at Sochi. With subsequent events in the Ukraine that might be better shelved for a while … or maybe getting attaboys from abroad might help soften attitudes right now – it’s a difficult call.
The question period began (at 51:16) with ‘Are you democratic?’ … from the gentleman who would not sit down at the last meeting and was the cause of the mayor’s adjourning of the meeting.
The next questioner suggested the use of the space adjacent to the Aquatic Centre for a Physio-therapy clinic. That was followed by the question: Does Grand Forks have in its Bylaws an opportunity to sign a petition that is binding? If Not is the something that Council would like to create a Bylaw for? This developed into a discussion about what is legal and not because much of this is governed by provincial regulations. They were also put on notice that a certain amount of the public desires that there be town hall meetings about the residential water meter program.
Another thing that came out of this evening’s meeting was an announcement of an event to allow the community to talk with council and vice versa. This will be held Mar 12 in the evening at the Omega Restaurant’s banquet room
The Regular Meeting of City Council Feb 24, 2014 – (recorded live) at 7PM
The missing piece of the COTW meeting: