District council becomes more transparent
All claimed expenses by Vanderhoof’s mayor and district councillors — with receipts and explanations attached — will be attached to council meeting agendas, and be available online for public viewing from now on.
By including details on why council members attend certain events and indicating the resulting benefit for Vanderhoof’s residents, receipts and claim forms can be reviewed by public with context, said CAO Tom Clement.
“It seems like there’s a desire to have more information,” said Mayor Gerry Thiessen, adding that the district council has also been talking about being more open — by posting all expenses — for awhile.
The expenses of Vanderhoof’s mayor were recently requested by an individual through B.C. government’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
“It’s public information…certainly that’s available to anyone who wants it,” Thiessen said. “This will alleviate any worry; people can just go online and they’ll see.”
By the end of June, all of the District’s expenses will be reported in an annual Statement of Financial Information, which will be released along with the Annual Municipal Report that includes the district’s goals and objectives.
Incoming cardboard ban
Cardboard from all sources — businesses, residences, and institutions — will be banned from the Vanderhoof Transfer Station as of July 1.
To handle the increased volume of cardboard recycling required, the District of Vanderhoof is in discussion with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako on a solution.
For residences, the RDBN has committed to fund cardboard recycling.
Currently in Vanderhoof, as arranged by the Nechako Waste Reduction Initiative, residential cardboard is collected in a retrofitted seaman behind the Vanderhoof and Districts Co-op grocery store, then baled by two workers from Nechako Valley Community Services Society with the Co-op baler twice a week.
NWRI stated that this system will not be able to the incoming increase in volume.
An estimated 80 to 90 per cent of Vanderhoof’s garbage is comprised of cardboard, Clement said.
Potential tax increase for future water tank replacement
The district council is looking to establish a reserve for water capital works to replace its upper water tank in the future.
Engineers reviewing the system three years ago found some deterioration on its walls, and advised that the tank would need to be replaced in three to five years.
The district looks to put aside $200,000 annually to cover the replacement’s costs, which would total $3.6 million.
Staff proposed three options: an increase in annual user fees, an increase in frontage tax, or establishing a parcel tax.
The user fee option would mean a 66 per cent increase from the current price — for example, a residential user fee may go up from $252 to $418.
The frontage tax option would require an increase from $1.50 to $4,00 per foot. A 66-foot lot, for example, would be taxed $264 instead of $99.
The parcel tax option would price parcels at $200 each; there are 1,015 water parcels serviced by the current system.
Loans were also proposed in the council discussion, and staff will return to council in a future meeting with more options and detail.
Downtown speed limit
The third and final reading of the potential new bylaw, limiting commercial vehicle speed to 30 kilometres per hour on Burrard Avenue from the bridge to Stewart Street, will take place in May, after the seasonal load restriction from the Ministry of Transportation will be lifted.
Temporary building permit bylaw to be drafted
The district council is looking to ban seacans from property, due to their unsightliness. A bylaw draft with more details will be presented at the next council meeting.
Food truck policy to come
A fair market value lease rate for food trucks looking to set up shop on municipal property will be established by district staff. Vanderhoof resident Sharlene McKay is requesting to operate a mobile concession trailer in Highway 16 Park this summer, starting with ice cream and with the possibility of menu expansion later. McKay says she looks to offer information packages to tourists at her business as well.
The concession, a self sufficient unit with water and power, will enhance the Highway 16 corridor and encourage tourists to stop by Vanderhoof, Clement said.
A management plan for District of Vanderhoof’s assets is in progress, due by the end of May, to continue annual funding through the Gas Tax Agreement.
The District receives about $200,000 of gas tax funding each year. To ensure the long-term sustainability of assets, the Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery – a BC Framework identifies needs, establishes long term financing methods, and schedules maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement works.
The plan supports the District’s long-term financial plan by identifying gaps between long term costs and available funding. The District currently does not prepare financial plans beyond five years. A draft plan, developed by contracted asset management company Urban System, will be presented to the district council in April.
The potential building of two new soccer fields, with an estimated cost of $220,110 and to be located west of baseball diamonds on Stewart Street by Recreation Avenue, will be added to the discussion on the 2016 Financial Plan.
– with files from the District of Vanderhoof