Happy New Year – Busy Behind the Scenes! – Jan 12 Meeting

I hope everyone had a restful and rewarding holiday season.

It has been a long time since I updated the blog, and I apologize for that.  Suffice to say, with the training sessions, the first real council meeting, new meeting schedules, “official picture” sessions, coffees, dinners… and then work, and family.  It all got a tad busy.  But that’s OK, that’s how it’s supposed to be.  My intention with this blog remains to have it be a regular place people can come to see what I’ve been doing on Council and what Council and the City is doing in general.  And that’s what it’s going to be.  So lets get started!

January Training, Meeting, Planning!

And this is just the official stuff so far.. :)

And this is just the official stuff so far.. :)

Predictably, I’ve taken to technology to help me keep my head on straight.  You can see my calendar is pretty full this month, and that’s just the official stuff that has been scheduled so far.  There will be more as the month goes on.  We have our first Council meeting of the year on Monday (agenda here!) more on that below.

You’ll notice also on Monday we will be having a review of the Financial Statements with the City manager as we get ready to get into our Strategic Planning process (starting on the 19th!) and eventually Budgeting for 2015.  The schedule for all of that, including the public meetings, is all in this week’s Agenda!

Next I’ll be attending the Advisory Planning Committee meeting on Thursday the 15th at noon   (just changed to) Thursday January 22nd.   Those meetings *are* open to the public.  They take place in the Committee room at City Hall (across the hall from Council Chambers).   The December meeting was very interesting.  There was talk about the new building that will replace the Somass on lower Argyle.  It looks fantastic.  There was also talk about a few derelict buildings that are on the City’s radar, seniors facilities and the state of the old ADSS lands.

We also have meetings scheduled with Tseshaht and Nuu-chah-nulth this month which will be very important and will hopefully set a very positive course for the next 4 years.

The biggest block of time on the Calendar though will be dedicated to the  “Elected Officials Seminars” being put on by the Local Government Leadership Academy and hosted by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities for all elected officials on the Island.  Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 9.26.58 AM

This, I am told, is going to delve into the work councillors and regional directors do between and in cooperation with communites in the area among other more general topics to do with leadership and the work of councillors.  There are a number of really interesting speakers and different topics for attendees to take in.  You can see the agenda here (or click the image).  There is so much demand for it that there are two intakes. I believe most of council for Port Alberni is in the 1st seminar series which runs from Tuesday evening through Thursday.

And then the ongoing business….

That pretty much rounds out the schedule for January.  At least for now.  Last month at the ACRD Transportation Committee meeting I was tasked to gather data about our current Highway 4 between Port Alberni and Coombs.  I’ll be providing that to the next Transportation Committee meeting next Friday.  New word from the ministry on whether the Horne Lake Connector is happening will hopefully come soon.  We had a good meeting with Ministry officials last month and expect more this month.

January 12 Agenda!

Note, when I go through the Agenda please understand this isn’t a final say, no decisions are pre-set here.  As Councillor I am duty bound to keep an open mind and come to a conclusion at the table in the public meeting at City Council after all the information is out and open to the public.  So the comments here are just ones of interest… conversation starters… for time and space I will not address every point in the Agenda and the ones I highlight should not be considered preferential.  This is just meant as a way to get more information out there for you, the citizens of Port Alberni, to chew on.  Hopefully by doing that, we will all contribute to the City’s work being a little more accessible and transparent.

The Agenda for  Council on January 12th is packed full.  I have contributed a number of motions to the agenda including one to do with our watershed, one on sign bylaws for future elections, one to investigate a wheelchair accessible street level pedestrian bridge across Rogers Creek and reintroducing the ban on pesticides in the City.  Councillor Minions is also bringing forward a motion to considering banning smoking in public places in the City.

There are lots of other interesting topics in the Agenda as well now that I’ve gone through it all!

NDP MLA for Alberni-Pacific Rim Scott Fraser will be our first delegation of the New Year.   I look forward to hearing from him and working with him in the future.

John Mayba will be presenting his proposal once again for construction of a Roger Creek pedestrian and cycling bridge.

And finally, the Maritime Heritage Society will be presenting to us their ongoing work.

From the Correspondence for Action:

The Alberni Curling club is wondering about using and/or upgrading the big sign on 10th Avenue for more community notices…  and the Young Professionals would like to install a commemorative pillar on Kingsway and Argyle near the Train Station.

Informational Correspondence and Reports

IMG_5407

Plans for the new Uchuklesaht Cultural Centre

There is an interesting letter from the BC Environmental Assessment agency about the Raven Coal mine proposal.   It’s good that the City has a committee ready to go, (the Committee will be formally approved later in the meeting) when or if the company gets to the review period.

The City is still trying to get proper tax payment from UVic for the former Teleglobe property (that was fully taxable) that houses their Neptune project.

There is going to be some really great info about the Uchuklesaht building on Argyle (at right)!  It looks really quite amazing!

 

New Committees!

The new Standing Advisory Committees on Food Security and Climate Change, Seniors issues,  Youth issues, and McLean Mill are all being created this meeting.  This is could be a big turning point for our City as we start to address all of these major and interwoven issues head on.  Exciting times!

The new Website.

Have you checked out the new website yet?  It looks quite beautiful, and I think it’s a big improvement over the past one.  There are still some pretty major issues around viewing it from a mobile device, which I find quite concerning.  But these things can be fixed in time and I am sure they will be.  There is a ton of information on there now that was much more difficult or impossible to find on the old site.  So it’s definitely a big improvement.

In Camera Work… Sssshhh.

And finally, there is a report being given by the City Clerk on changes to how the City releases information that was embargoed under in-camera work but has since been made public and is no longer needed to be in-camera.

In-camera (which basically means, not in public) meetings are always a bone of contention for citizens.  I’ve long had problems with how the City and many other organizations use and sometimes abuse in-camera meetings.

There is actually a very small list of things that *must* be dealt with by City council privately.  It is under Section 90 of the Community Charter.

There are only 4 times when a meeting *must* be closed.

  • (2) A part of a council meeting must be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered relates to one or more of the following:
    • (a) a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, if the council is designated as head of the local public body for the purposes of that Act in relation to the matter;
    • (b) the consideration of information received and held in confidence relating to negotiations between the municipality and a provincial government or the federal government or both, or between a provincial government or the federal government or both and a third party;
    • (c) a matter that is being investigated under the Ombudsperson Act of which the municipality has been notified under section 14 [Ombudsperson to notify authority] of that Act;
    • (d) a matter that, under another enactment, is such that the public must be excluded from the meeting.
    • (e) a review of a proposed final performance audit report for the purpose of providing comments to the auditor general on the proposed report under section 23 (2) of the Auditor General for Local Government Act.

The times when it *may* be closed is much longer… I won’t reproduce the list here, but deals with the often repeated ‘Land, Labour, and Legal” but the operative word in Section 90 (1) as opposed to (2) above, is the word *may*.  That means it is up to the council to decide if the information should be withheld, even temporarily, from the public or not.  It is a very important issue that has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis because once you deal with the matter in public, it’s likely impossible to put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak.

I know both Staff and Council are thinking and working hard on this important issue of transparency and I’m sure it will keep coming up.

Posted in Environment, Politics | Leave a comment

Officially Sworn In – Work Begins – Results of Poll Questions

10801595_10152550419101314_6415423980032421343_nHi all,

It has been a busy couple weeks already since election night.  Council has been attending lots of training sessions to get oriented to the city staff and procedures and our General duties and there is lots more to come.  I’m going to keep writing on this page so you can know what’s happening as I go along on this journey with you and council.

The Swearing In Ceremony

I'm just glad I managed to pronounce "pe-cu-ni-ary" correctly!

I’m just glad I managed to pronounce “pe-cu-ni-ary” correctly!

It really hit home last night when we were led in by Inspector Richards in full red serge.  The Oath of Office that I pledge to you and all citizens of Port Alberni through the Justice of the Peace talks about ensuring that in all matters with council I act with integrity in the best interest of all citizens of Port Alberni, and without conflict.  It is so simple and common sense.  This is my number one goal and I believe our entire council truly has the best interests of the City in their hearts.


Committee Work Work Work!

… or is that committee, committee, commitee work! The main business of council last night was to announce and create committees. Every motion last night passed unanimously. I am pretty sure that won’t happen again until the next inaugural meeting in 4 years. :) Committee work is really the meat and bones of getting things done in the City so I’m really excited that I will be participating on a number of committees.

  1. Audit Committee: (3rd Monday every 3 months starting February 23)
    • This committee goes over the City’s books, expenses and general the funds moving in and out of the City.   
  2. Advisory Planning Commission: (Monthly – 3rd Thursday starting January 15)
    • This committee deals with zoning applications and other land use issues affecting the City.
  3. ACRD Transportation Committee: (Called on request)
    • This is a regional committee with many stakeholders involved that has been taking the lead in advocating for better transportation links to and from the City and region including lobbying for the Horne Lake Connector.
  4. Alberni Valley Community Stakeholders Initiative to End Homelessness:
    • This is a very important committee in our community dedicated to tackling homelessness and mental health issues affecting our residents and those in need.

Other councillors will be on these committees too of course but unfortunately I didn’t bring my copy of all of the appointments with me this morning so I won’t try to rely on my rather foggy memory, but I will post a picture of the list later today.

You can find the new schedules for more of the committees on last night’s agenda. The other very important appointment made was to the Regional District board.  Mayor Ruttan and Councillor McLeman will be representing the City there with the rest of Council acting as alternates.

There were also 4 new and very important standing committees created last night!

  • Food Security and Climate Change
  • Seniors Advisory
  • Youth Advisory
  • Mclean Mill Advisory

City Staff will be preparing the terms of reference and other details for those committees for Council in the coming weeks.

Here is the full listing of committees and appointments.  Of course they may be subject to change over time and please contact the City for the most up to date information.

Council Appointment List - 2014-2015(Dec1_14) Council Appointment List - 2014-2015(Dec1_14)2

 


Results of the Campaign Poll Questions!

And last but not least, I wanted to publish the results of the poll questions I asked during my campaign to visitors of this website.  I hope to continue to do that in future and to encourage the City to do so on its own web presence as well.  Everyone likes a poll!

Here are the results of the questions:

  1. “How do we cross Rogers Creek? (Cost are only estimates based on reports)”
    • Total Votes: 105
    • 11 (10.5%) – Straight and tall bridge strategy (est. $14 million)
    • 16 (15.2%) – Long dip and short bridge (est. $7 million)
    • 37 (35.2%) – Foot and bike bridge only ($?)
    • 41 (39.0%) – No Change
    • The non-binding City Election question ‘ “Are you in favour of a 10th Avenue crossing from the north end of 10th Avenue to the junction of Cherry Creek Road and Johnston Road for a cost of $5 million?”  Yes or No’ failed to pass by a vote of 2388 (41.3%) For and 3389 Against (58.6%). Total votes 5777.  So this seems to confirm the informal polling done here as well that there does not seem to be a strong appetite for expensive road infrastructure.  It might be good for the City to investigate whether residents would be willing to invest in a more affordable foot and bike bridge solution or if there simply is no point in pursuing another crossing at all.
  2. What is your #1 burning City issue? (in Alphabetical Order)
    • Total Votes: 70 (People could only vote for one)
    • 5 (7%) – 10th Avenue Crossing
    • 7 (10%) – Bicycle Lanes and Trails
    • 3 (4%) – Canal Beach
    • 0 – Climate Costs (CO2/Energy/Rebuilding)
    • 1 (1%) – Environmental Degradation In and Around the City
    • 4 (6%) – Fire Department
    • 11 (16%) – Industrial Job Creation
    • 5 (7%) – McLean Mill
    • 3 (4%) – New Pool
    • 1 (1%) – Pay of Councillors
    • 1 (1%) – Road Repairs
    • 2 (3%)- Small Business Growth
    • 20 (29%) – Tax Rates
    • 7 (10%) – Other (add a comment!)
    • There were a lot of choices and not a lot of votes so of course the results may be a little skewed.  However, I think it still sends a pretty big message.  People are very concerned about being able to live affordably and comfortably and work in our City.
  3. “I support a future vision of entire plywood mill site as expanded Beach Park for people”
    • Total Votes: 46
    • 33 (71.6%) – Yes
    • 13 (28.2%) – No
    • This is a very small sample size of course but it is still a strong result.  I do hope and believe the council will continue to work towards make the Canal Beach area better and better for City residents.  One of the first orders of business will be to address the motion left on the table by the last council on the signing of an indemnity agreement with WFP.
  4. “Can the City encourage CO2 and Energy reductions without raising taxes?”
    • Total Votes: 20
    • 14 – Yes
    • 6 – NoPerhaps this should be one big question for the new “Food Security and Climate Change Committee”?
  5. “Do you trust your local politicians?”
    • Total Votes: 31
    • 11 – Yes
    • 20 – No
    • A somewhat discouraging but perhaps a predictable result, and hopefully not personal.  Lets work on that! ;)
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Thank You So Much! We did it! I’m In! Now the work begins.

I don’t think it will quite hit me until the first orientation meetings this week…. but I am extremely honoured and excited to have succeeded in this campaign.  I will be keeping this website and my Facebook page up so that you can continue to access me through it and find out about the issues happening in Port Alberni.  My own greatest pleasure is to give people information that they find useful, whether it is about computers and video projects at my work at VIU, weather info at Alberniweather.ca, or now city info as one of your councillors for Port Alberni, that will be my biggest goal and I am very excited to have the opportunity to do so,

So! With that in mind, here is the info of the day!

Election Results!

Click the link to see results from all communities in BC including the ACRD and Port Alberni.

2014 results part12014resuktspart2 Here are the results for Port Alberni. It was a very close race as was to be expected when you have 22 excellent candidates running for only six spots.

I am very excited to be working with what I think is an excellent team of councillors and Mayor.  And I want to thank John Douglas and Wendy Kerr especially for their great work in their time on council and as Mayor.

The road bridge question failed by 57% voting against. I Hope that means it is time to talk about a much more affordable and potentially beautiful foot and bike bridge instead!

Here are tACRD2014he results from the ACRD:

Congratulations to all the candidates who ran.

Also important is the referendum on the Sproat Lake Marine patrol, which City and all Valley residents participated in.  It passed easily.

And finally, the School District.

Sd70 results2014That’s it folks!  Those are your elected officials in the Alberni Valley that will represent you for the next 4 years.

I am very honoured to be one of those select few.  Please, stay engaged, keep asking and demanding questions.  Demand them of me and all of our elected officials. Democracy isn’t just voting on voting day.  It has to be a Full part of our lives every single day for it to work best.

Thanks you for sending me on this journey.  Four years from now, we will see if I’m still thanking you ;) but I know we will be in an even better place than we are now.

Happy Sunday Port Alberni!

 

Posted in Climate Change, Environment, Family, Peak Oil, Pictures, Politics, The Good Life, ToTheEditor | 1 Comment

Will you vote on Wednesday?

Your first opportunity to vote in an advance poll is Wednesday November 5th! So exciting!

I will likely be voting sometime around 9AM. The Advance Poll for City voters will be at City Hall from 8AM to 8PM.

If you can’t make it on general voting day, don’t hesitate to take advantage of these advance days!  And remember: As long as you live in the City, whether you own or rent, you can vote.  If you live outside the City but own property inside city limits, you can vote too.

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And make sure you drag a friend along! I would love to have you vote for me, but no matter who you vote for, please vote! Democracy is a beautiful and still rare thing in our world.

Oh, and check out Shaw TV for the Mayors debate and the Councillors statements, including mine of course. They should have it on their Youtube channel soon too if you don’t subscribe to Shaw.

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Bike racks at 6PM. Foot/bike bridge and Nanaimo foot ferry at 7PM

Just a quick note that if you are in support of more bike and pedestrian friendly infrastructure in our City today might be a good day to head to City Hall.

At 6PM there will be an official public hearing on whether the Official Community Plan should be amended to require bike racks or bike parking facilities on all new and existing multi-family and commercial businesses in the city.

Here is the full handout from the City.

My opinion: if we are serious about encouraging people to get out of their cars then this is a logical first step to make it easier for people to use their bike to get to and from work or to do their business in town.

What do you think? Get to the meeting tonight at 6PM to register your opinion!

7PM:

As usual, there is tons on the Agenda tonight at City Council.

First there will be the presentation by John Mayba for a foot and bike bridge to cross the Rogers Creek ravine near 10th Avenue or the Multiplex.

My Opinion: this is something that really makes sense. It need not be an idea that competes with that of a road bridge, however, in the grand scheme of things that we can afford and that would provide a real new benefit to our city, I believe a foot and bike bridge spanning the ravine would make for a huge improvement in the walkability and bike ability of our City. Unlike a car that only needs a few minutes to make the strip down Gertrude to get to the other side of town, on a bike or by foot, the ravine poses a huge obstacle for people to go around at great cost of time and energy.

This should be something that should be very affordable as well and also able to be contributed to by volunteers. There could also be big benefits to linking in to the walking paths and trails within the ravine. Heck, it could even be a little tourist attraction to lure people off Johnston.

Second. IMG_4960-0.JPG

There is a letter of support being requested by the City of Nanaimo to support the Island Ferries foot passenger service between downtown Nanaimo and Downtown Vancouver. With massive BC Ferry costs, this is an idea whose time has finally come.

And with the Island Ferry facility setting up shop right beside the railyard in Nanaimo it provides an exceptional opportunity to have visitors and commuters use the service to get all over the Island including here in Port Alberni.

If you were a tourist from Ontario flying into Vancouver and wanted to see Long Beach, would you consider taking the foot ferry to Nanaimo and hopping right on the train to Port Alberni to be your home base? It sure would cut car rental costs and it could be a game changer for our Coty in the summer months.

Come make your voice heard tonight!

Chris

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