SUMMING IT UP GRAND FORKS: Emissions help forests and garbage gets a break

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
January 25th, 2013

Carbon credits, new meeting processes, garbage fees and more filled the agenda for the City of Grand Forks at their last meeting of council.

Grand Forks had to make a decision on paying carbon offsets to meet their obligations to a climate action charter that they signed with the province agreeing to be carbon neutral by 2012. As part of this agreement, the city undertook a variety of projects to save energy and emissions in its operations along with the other municipalities, and regional districts as part of the Carbon Neutral Kootenays Project (CNK).

But despite their efforts, the city still has been unable to become entirely carbon neutral according to their inventory of emissions. Patrica Dehnel, community energy planner for the CNK, presented council with options to make their commitment.

“(The city) must take responsibility for your remaining emissions by investing in projects that reduce your remaining emissions by 2012,” said Dehnel.

Since it’s not a matter of whether the city must pay, it comes down to a decision as to what they will commit their money to, and they agreed to support the Darkwoods project. The alternate choice for the offsets purchase is the Pacific Carbon Trust where the investments are guaranteed to stay in B.C. but there is no opportunity for purchasers to direct the funds into specific projects.

Darkwoods is a forest conservation project between Nelson and Creston and the funding will also benefits eco-system preservation. A trust fund will be opened to hold the funds from the governments carbon offsets. The cost is expected to be less than $8,000.

Garbage fees waived

A new bylaw passed its first three readings at the meeting on Monday, Jan. 14 to allow townhouse complexes to opt out of garbage fees.

Parkside Villa approached the city after the bylaw instituting the new garbage regulations (green bin program and new fees) doubled their garbage costs. The provincially funded low-income housing unit had an existing five year contract with Alpine Disposal. When the city’s new policy was implemented they found themselves paying for a service they were not able to use.

The new waiver of service amendment allows for townhouses, row houses, gated communities or manufactured home parks that can prove they had an existing garbage contract in place prior to the adoption of the 2012 garbage bylaw.

A challenge from councillor Michael Wirischagin called on council to question why residents could not opt out if they decide to allow complexes the privilege.

“You have to have everybody paying into the program in order for you to deliver a program,” rebuted Doug Allin, chief administrative officer for the city. “If everybody wants to start opting out of parks and roads these types of things, then we’re in a situation where we can’t deliver services. When you live in a city you have to have total participation in order for this to work.”

Council reports

Solar car kits were approved to be purchased to celebrate solar days. The total cost of $890 from the environment committee’s budget will buy car kits for school children to build and race at the annual event.

The deer committee reported that they are working to develop signs to caution drivers about the high population of ungulates in the city. The committee has formed an expert working group to evaluate options for controlling the deer population and will be bringing recommendations to the committee.

Councillor Gary Smith announced that the new marketing brand design is nearly ready to launch and the economic development advisory committee is very satisfied with the work of Story & Co.

Smith asked council to approve $650 for funding a World Host program in the city. The funds would supplement the costs of sending staff and business owners in Grand Forks to attend the training session. The World Host workshops teach tourism friendly and customer service skills.

Mayor Brian Taylor unveiled a new meeting structure for future city council primary meetings. The proposed format is to allow a more open discussion with public involvement at the primary meetings. To allow more in depth discussions, the meeting may be held from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Monday mornings. This may be implemented in the coming months.

Omega goes outdoors

The Omega restaurant got a nod of approval in their request for a building permit to build a pergola on the west side of their building. The 420 square foot seating area will be built on an existing slab of concrete and will not affect and existing structures or the parking area.

Demolition delays

The demolition of the Winnepeg Hotel has been delayed as environmental challenges called a halt to their process. Under their development permit they have one year to complete the project, and will likely return to the project in the spring, explained Allin.

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