SUMMING IT UP: Grand Forks City Council

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
September 16th, 2010

Grand Forks city councillors expressed their thanks for the volunteers who put on two large community events over the last month as a part of their fall opening meeting. All councillors showed their support for the Grand Forks Fall Fair and the Grand Forks International Baseball tournament when they recognized these events and the hard work of the volunteers who take the lead on organizing. Other meeting topics included: deer management, the response from the regional district for funding parks within city limits, tax exemptions for non-profits, and the allocation of regional funding for museums.   Improvements to 75 Ave. sidewalk   Council held further discussion about the possibility of removing three trees along 75 Avenue between 5th and 6th Street to accommodate the replacement and improvement of the sidewalk. Staff notified council that the trees have caused the damage to the sidewalk and the only feasible option will be to remove the trees when the sidewalk is replaced. Councillor Chris Moslin expressed his hesitancy to remove trees given the poor survival rate of the replacements planted over the last two years.   “I have a problem and that is the city’s ability to grow trees. Council and staff know that I’m frustrated with the results of the city parks trees and the planting of the trees for tomorrow which were free to plant,” said Moslin. “Replacing them is not going to be free. I don’t see in option one an adequate commitment, you talk about $800 to replant these trees. My argument would be that planting them is easy, but it doesn’t reflect the actual cost of successfully growing them.”   Despite Moslin’s comments, the motion was passed to complete the repairs as a part of planning for 2011.   “Everybody knows how sensitive our community is (about tree removal), having said that it is a danger, we have been advised of it, there is potential for liability if we don’t do something,” said Councillor Christine Thompson. “I will support the recommendation of our staff to remove the three offending trees and to replace that section of sidewalk.”   Deer management   Moslin provided information to council on the actions of the cities of Kimberly and Cranbrook to survey their residents about their deer problems and possible solutions. He put forward a motion to request a survey be done by the deer committee to ensure public support for any solutions that Grand Forks city might pursue. This motion was passed. In addition, Mayor Brian Taylor made a motion to create an anti-feeding bylaw. He strongly emphasized that the bylaw would not have financial penalties, but would rely on public pressure and accountability as enforcement. The decision was sent on to the deer committee to assist in developing the exact wording of a bylaw to be presented to council at a later date.   Airport noise complaints   Councillor Joy Davies brought up some complaints she had received about the additional air traffic at the airport. Some of the complaints were due to the noise, but other comments were about the height of the planes as they ascend and descend to the runway.   Councillor Cher Wyers explained that there are currently two instructors with about 13 students conducting training. It is common for them to do repeated landings and take-offs during their training and the instructors are very experienced in regulations and safety standards.   “They are conducting flight training classes at the airport and part of the syllabus is take-off and landings and circuits. Our altitude requirement is 1000 feet in circuit…so unfortunately the individual may live on a downwind route,” explained Wyers. “They (the students) are doing their private pilot licence which is a minimum of 45 hours of training for each person. I understand we have thirteen students.”   Regional park funding   A topic of past council discussions, the idea of asking regional district areas C and D to provide funding to the city for the use of the parks and sports areas was rejected by the region’s government. Taylor felt that the resistance was not so much about the idea of shared costs, but was a result of the way the proposal was put forward. Taylor will continue to talk with the area directors to work towards a solution.   Tax exemptions   Tax exemptions for 10 properties owned and operated by non-profit groups were granted for the 2011 financial plan. These include: Grand Forks Senior Citizens Society Branch 143 (Slavonic,) Grand Forks Hospital Auxiliary (thrift shop,) Grand Forks Senior Citizens Society Branch 68 (City Park,) Sunshine Valley Little People’s Centre, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 59, Harmony Lodge Freemasons, Grand Forks Wildlife Association, Abbeyfield Centennial House, Habitat for Humanity Boundary Society, and Boundary Lodge Assisted Living.   Regional museum funding   Correspondence from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary requested that funding for the Boundary Museum Service be dispersed on their behalf. Additional correspondence indicated that area C director Grace McGregor requested that, of the $10,000 of museum funding allocated from area C, $5,000 be directed to the Grand Forks Art Gallery Society and not to the Boundary Museum Society.   Since the initial funding from the two areas adjacent to Grand Forks was initiated by a referendum, Moslin questioned if there could be any change to where the funding could be directed. “I wasn’t too sure if you have the right to redirect tax money that’s been allocated specifically by vote, by referendum. I thought that allocation was set by referendum and therefore it was very difficult to change that.”   Councillor Christine Thompson advised that the decision was made after careful consideration and that McGregor’s direction should be followed.   “It was my understanding that it was to go to the Boundary museum service. If Director McGregor wants to split up the Boundary museum service component of her tax collection evenly between the art gallery society who has a heritage component of their facility, and the Boundary Museum Society for their purposes, I do know the Boundary Museum Society is most grateful for any money that they receive and would not question Director McGregor’s authority on how taxes collected in her area is distributed,” explained museum liaison Thompson.   Taylor agreed to ensure that there are no legal ramifications should the city redirect funding before the allocation is done.   Other   Moslin was nominated by council to sit on a committee being developed by the Union of B.C. Municipalities to discuss water issues. 

The idea of a bylaw officer to address enforcement issues will be discussed by council in their financial planning for 2011. 

Categories: Politics