(Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

(Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

Homeless shelter, brownfields and more discussed during Vanderhoof council meeting

Regular public meeting of council held Feb. 22, with a video of the meeting available Feb. 23.

The District held its regular council meeting at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 22. However, as the chambers are closed, a video recording of the meeting is only available Feb. 23, which is after press time for the Express.

Here is a brief from the meeting minutes available on the district’s website as of Feb. 22 at 9 a.m.

Homeless shelter in Vanderhoof

A mental health worker in the community sent a letter to council Feb. 1 to address the request for a homeless shelter in Vanderhoof.

Priya Sharma said she has been trying to find housing/shelter for her clients who are in dire need of one.

After extensive research on why Vanderhoof doesn’t have a homeless shelter, Sharma says, she hasn’t found any explanation for why this is the case.

”I saw a woman wandering the streets of Vanderhoof yesterday, hopeless and cold, looking for a place to sleep. I tried to get her in touch with the women’s shelter we have here. This lead to the discovery of the fact that we have absolutely no resources for such circumstances anywhere near our city,” she wrote in her letter received by council Feb. 22.

“Since I have lived in Vanderhoof, I have gotten nothing but kindness and support from my neighbours. A community, as giving as this one, would only ever encourage such programs, to help our neighbours that are not as blessed and fortunate as we are,” Sharma said, adding she was looking forward to hear council’s ideas in regard to this issue.

Brownfield Taxation

The District of Vanderhoof sent a request to the province on Sept. 22, 2020 requesting the government to increase the property tax rate on brownfield properties, to encourage development.

Selina Robinson, newly appointed minister of finance followed up with the request in a letter addressed to Lori Egli, Chief Administrative Officer for the district.

Robinson said decommissioned properties such as brownfields are a province-wide concern, for rural and urban communities.

In the letter Robinson brought up the meeting CAO Lori Egli had with the previous finance minister Carole James. Egli had told James that property owners are reluctant to develop brownfield properties as the high cost of remediation can often exceed their market value.

To that end, the district was proposing introducing a separate property tax class for brownfield properties with a higher tax rate to act as an incentive, to encourage development.

Robinson said the province is reluctant to create new property classes for issues not directly related to property taxation. “There may be alternative solutions that are more effective and appropriate than using property assessment and taxation, such as coordinated site remediation where financially feasible.”

READ MORE: Chamber presents list of priorities to District

Nechako Valley Exhibition Society request

Carolyn Leigh, executive director for the Society requested for a resolution of support from the district, towards a grant application to Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund.

The funds will be used for NVES’s arena renovation (phase 2).

This project is intended to reduce electricity consumption by replacing 60 fluorescent light fixtures in the indoor arena building, 34 metal halide fixtures in the arena and boarding pens area, 3 yard lights, and 3 exterior building lights at the Nechako Valley Exhibition Grounds.

Estimated cost for the project is $50,000.

The Society plans to complete the project within 2021.

Vanderhoof Fire Department update

There have been 23 fire calls and 12 motor vehicle incident since Nov. 16, 2020, as per an update from Ian Leslie, Fire Chief.

Membership numbers are strong, with 28 active members. One member resigned as result of relocation due to work.

The department has ordered a back-up generator and is waiting delivery.

Currently, all Emergency Support Services (ESS) meetings have been cancelled.

“ESS members are staying in contact via e-mail and continuing with online training. Safety items are in stock in the event of a call out of the ESS team,” said Ian Leslie, Fire Chief, in a report.

Public Works Department- Update

Here are some projects underway in Vanderhoof as per a report prepared by the operations superintendent.

Completed projects:

1. Tree Grant: BC Hydro ReGreening Grant is submitted.

2. Water Sewer: Northside Scada PLC is installed and completed.

3. Christmas Decorations: decorations have been taken down and stored.

4. Water Break: 2nd Street and Pine, Crew restored and is operational.

5. Training: Confined Space Training for two new staff employees completed.

Ongoing Projects:

1. Generators: Generators have arrived and are being tested, estimated to be installed the mid-March.

2. Riverside Washhouse: plumbing is completed, awaiting electrical work, soil hauling to the site in prep of final landscaping early spring.

3. 2021 Budget: review and obtain quotes for requested Council amendments to 2021 Operational and Capital budgets.

First Nations Traditional Territory Acknowledgement Statement

During a Feb. 16 regular public meeting of council, officials discussed having an acknowledgment statement for the First Nations traditional territory at the start of format meetings. Council requested that a formal resolution be brought back with a draft statement to the Feb. 22 regular council meeting.

Currently the draft acknowledgment statement reads,”this meeting is respectfully held on the traditional territory of the Saik’uz First Nations on whose land we live, work and play.”

Sarabjit Kaur
Multimedia Journalist – Vanderhoof Omineca Express, Caledonia Courier


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