Minutes of the January 22, 2018 Council Meeting
College of New Caledonia
Henry Reiser, CNC President discussed the new College of New Caledonia campus in Vanderhoof (139 East First Street), indicating its purpose will be to house trades training in one location. He indicated the design phase for the new facility is almost complete and renovations can begin as soon as funding it confirmed. CNC will reach out to the community for input on the final design later in the year.
In response to a question from a member of the public, in the Council gallery, Council indicated that they were not aware of the progress of the design for the new CNC building and that they were not consulted.
Airport Apron Expansion
The District of Vanderhoof will submit an application to the BC Air Access Program (a Provinical fund that provides capital funding to assist B.C. aviation facilities with improvements to their infrastructure) in the amount of $322,875. The District of Vanderhoof will apply for their share of the funding, $106,625, from the Northern Development Initiatives Trust.
Mayor’s Report to Council for January 22, 2018
The Mayor’s report includes mention of “two incredible wins this past week, the letter from the RCMP” and “the Premier’s response on Mt. Milligan” stating that these are “great success stories when we go for something.”
The RCMP letter reference is a January 2, 2018 letter from Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butter-Worth Carr, Commanding Officer, RCMP which indicates that the “business case for Vanderhoof was included in the Mutli-Year Plan submitted to the Province”. It continues, indicating that the RCMP has initiatives in place to address HR management, a Provincial Support Team has been proposed and a Resource Management Matrix that analyzes staffing levels, overtime, calls for service crime rates, population trends, geographic needs, and various social and economic factors.
The letter offers no commitment to increase staffing at this point, and only a recommendation to elevate the Vanderhoof Detachment Commander from the rank of Sergeant to Staff Sergeant, Vanderhoof’s decades long wait for appropriate levels of staffing may not be over anytime soon. See “How long has police staffing been an issue in Vanderhoof?”.
The second “incredible win” is likely a reference to the Centerra’s receipt of an amendment to Mount Milligan’s Environmental Assessment Certificate to allow pumping of water from a nearby lake (Philip Lake) and the additional related permits.
This will allow ramp-up of mill operations to sustainable mill throughput levels of approximately 30,000 tpd by mid-February. Read the full announcement.
Congratulations to the District of Fort St. James and Centerra staff for the success of all their hard work!
The Mayor’s report indicates that Mayor Thiessen feels Vanderhoof is in need of another hotel, indicating that “this past weekend we saw many activities in Vanderhoof have to find accommodations in PG. we need to get a hotel into Vanderhoof.” (sic)
The District of Vanderhoof, under Mayor Thiessen’s direction, has been active in attempts to attract a new hotel to Vanderhoof. In 2009 a Tourism Assessment of Vanderhoof and Area was completed. In 2014, supported with funding from the Nechako Kitamaat Development Fund, the “Vanderhoof Hotel Valuation Study” was commissioned. The final product, a feasibility study to determine the economic viability of new hotel development in Vanderhoof, was meant to be used as a tool to attract a hotel chain. Finally, in 2015, then CAO Evan Parliament, Mayor and Council commissioned a “Market Sounding Report” that followed up on the 2014 report “A Business Case for Community Space” that proposed combining the then proposed CNC trade campus, a new hotel, new municipal offices and a swimming pool. Again, hotel chains were uninterested in coming to Vanderhoof.
Perhaps supporting existing hoteliers would be a more viable approach. The Hillview Hotel was before Council in November 2015 requesting an extension to their building and paving permits, as his hotel expansion was and is currently not feasible due to difficulties in filling rooms in the existing structure.
District of Vanderhoof Staffing
Two “Special Meetings” were held, one on January 29 and the other on February 1, with both going In Camera so Council could discuss matters relating to labour relations or other employee relations. It doesn’t seem that minutes from these meetings are ever published, but the February 13, 2018 meeting includes a recommendation from the “interim CAO” that Mr. Joseph D. Ukryn be appointed as the District of Vanderhoof Chief Financial Officer. It is clear that there has been another change in management at the District of Vanderhoof.
Another appointment proposed for the February 13 meeting is Mr Darren Dyck as the Approving Officer (for approving subdivisions).
Women’s Envisioning Committee
Cindy Chipchase will appear at Council as a delegation, requesting a letter of support for the Women’s Envisioning Committee, which is currently in the process of forming a society: “Hearts and Hands” – Connecting and Supporting Women of the North. This group’s recent World Café was a huge success.
Minutes from the November 11, 2017 Attraction / Retention Committee meeting are an interesting read. The Committee has a budget of $450,000 and discussed several retention and attraction options, including:
- Using funds to assist businesses in attracting skilled workers
- Marketing initiatives (to seniors, industries and entry-level workers). Interestingly, affordable housing is listed as a strength for Vanderhoof. Those working with low-income residents often find it impossible to find housing vacancies, and when they do, $800+ for older, energy inefficient housing is common.
- Hiring a consultant to find gaps in the business community and make recommendations on how the fund can be used to best assist.
- Assist business development. The example provided:
One example is the Rio Theatre. As a historic building in Vanderhoof, we want to preserve it and see it thrive. Unfortunately, it is not eligible for grants, as it is not owned by a nonprofit. The committee discussed the possibility of the District purchasing the building, and leasing it back to the owners at little or no fee. The District would then be eligible for historical grants and responsible for the building’s upkeep and maintenance.
- Taxi company business model for Vanderhoof, BC. The Attraction and Retention Committee discussed working with Community Futures to do a Feasibility Study to see if Vanderhoof can apply successful taxi business models from other communities.
The taxi idea is the best on the list – the lack of a safe ride home has a big impact on local restaurants and pubs (as well as the health and safety of residents and visitors). Those without a vehicle struggle to transport groceries, attend appointments and get around in the community. While it will be very difficult to find a feasible model, once done this will have a huge benefit to residents and businesses.
Up for discussion are improvements to Vanderhoof Arena exterior lighting, Vanderhoof Ball Diamond Washroom Renos (application for funding to Northern Development Initiatives Trust), Vanderhoof Riverside Campground upgrade (application for funding to Northern Development Initiatives Trust), and Vanderhoof Recreation Fields (application for funding to Northern Development Initiatives Trust) and the purchase of a new Fire Engine for the Vanderhoof Fire Department.
Support for Local Community Groups
Council will consider donation requests from the Vanderhoof Clippers Speed Skating Club, the Nechako Valley Rodeo Association, and the Nechako Valley Exhibition Society. The Vanderhoof Airshow Society is requesting resources for the 2018 Airshow, including mowing, brush clearing, etc., to get the grounds in order for the big show.
Slash Burning and Air Quality
From the document Notes from the Northern Mayors and Chairs Roundtable, The Town of Smithers, like Vanderhoof, BC, is often impacted by poor air quality. They reported,
“There has been a policy revision by the ministry of environment on regulation of
burning slash. Rules around venting conditions have been removed on burning outside of
the regulated area (20km from municipalities). Smoke travels more than 20km; Smithers
has written the minister of the environment to encourage them to strengthen the rules.
Hopefully the Town of Smithers has some success in their encouragement to the Minister of Environment to strengthen these rules.
Another interesting note from the Notes from the Northern Mayors and Chairs Roundtable, (which should be renamed “Northern Mayors, Chief and Chairs”, is on the issue of reconciliation.
- Relationships are formed through inclusion and interaction; more ongoing interaction is needed between First Nations, municipalities and government
- Northern municipalities and First Nations communities have been working to develop their relationships leading to many positive partnerships
Chief Domo (Dominic Frederick of Lheidli T’enneh) observes that reconciliation is like repairing a broken family – new ground must be built, common ground must be
recognized; dignity and place in society must be given.
Let’s hope those in the room at the Northern Mayors and Chairs Roundtable (and Chiefs!) take this message to heart. A good beginning for the District of Vanderhoof would be following the example of the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako in forming a relationship protocol with area First Nations, like Saik’uz.