Committee of the Whole
Monday, June 17, 2019
Starting at 7pm
In attendance were Mayor Maja Tait and Councillors Al Beddows, Megan McMath, Ebony Logins, Jeff Bateman.
Freedom Mobile (previously Wind) – upcoming plans for Sooke region
Presenter, Dean Price a Shaw VP and the Freedom contact for Western Canada.
The reason for the high prices of cell access in Canada is because there is no real competition. Wind turned into Freedom (but under the umbrella of Shaw, purchased in 2016, so really just another arm of The Big Three, Shaw, Telus and Bell). They need to build a network, so Shaw invested heavily for that. They need “air” for transmission. Then the antennas are then planned, and the challenge is finding the right sites and the right landlords. The third challenge is public perception. Cell towers are ugly, and while there are attractive ones available, they do cost more money. They won’t be making a profit off this for two or three years. Property values will not be impacted, either way (up or down). It’s very different today than it was five years ago, as connectivity is becoming a central service. More than a nice to have. As far as health goes, they don’t just exceed it, they aim to “crush it” so that the whole conversation goes away. If the industry standard is “x”, at the last site they did, they met and exceeded the standard by x times a thousand.
On the plus side, a tower vrs the antennae, the District will have free-of-charge access to it. Price wants the build to be good, so that there is solid coverage everywhere all the way out to Langford. Coverage will go out to Kemp Lake Road at West Coast Road.
The big deal according to Price is bill savings. It means a savings of hundreds to thousands of dollars for cell phone. Wind, he said, is a disruptor.
Here’s hoping someone from Council asks how they can be a disruptor if they are simply a corporate entity under Shaw.
Tait asked about the expanded coverage, noting that at on Whiffin Spit that cell phones start roaming. Will this remove the roaming problem? Price noted that every carrier HAS to reverse roaming charges from the US. He said they are “hopeful” that coverage will be carried by a tower high up in East Sooke Park. Price noted that one of their plans includes international coverage at no extra cost, the client just has to know to ask for this plan.
Bateman noted that Freedom Mobile has been made to jump through several hoops. Bateman noted their competitive pricing, 10 gigs for $50/mo.
McMath noted there’s a monopole in Sooke, and she wondered if they’ve ever done artwork or beautification on a pole, post installation. A fellow responded from the gallery (no mic) so we couldn’t capture the answer.
Beddows spoke to the public fear around cell towers. He asked about the new European standard (Beddows didn’t know more about it, and neither did the Freedom team). Price said their standard is one of the most rigourous in the world.
Tait asked about the province’s plans to realign Sooke Rd, and if this could open up more alignment possibilities. Price said no, the challenge is the hills on either side. She also asked about Freedom possibly reaching out to Spirit Bay (Beecher Bay First Nations).
Price anticipates that in three months, they should be able to launch their network.
Report: Update on Parks and Trails Master Plan, presented by Catherine Berris of Urban Systems.
They are using a 20-year forward view for planning purposes. Ms. Berris gave an overview of the report, which you can read online. Great news on parks and trails usage; dissatisfaction on the limited access to water, and limited availability of dog-friendly spaces. Highest need is for more parks, more public washrooms.
As part of the engagement process for Sooke’s Parks and Trails Master Plan, an online community survey was used to collect input on participation and satisfaction with existing parks, trails, and recreation activities, as well as priorities for future improvements. The online survey was available from January 9, 2019 to February 26, 2019 and was completed by 304 community members.
The survey had a good distribution of participants across age groups. However, there were notably fewer responses from adults aged 20 to 29 and 70 to 79.
More homes with dogs than children
Survey participants were asked to indicate whether or not they have children 16 or younger living at home. Of those who answered the question, 34 percent of participants responded that they had children at home and 66 percent of participants said they did not.
Sixty-two percent of participants were dog owners and 38 percent were not. There wasn’t a big call from the public for dogs to be on-leash.
Dog leash regulations involve a significant process, noted staff at the presentation, and this would come after a plan is adopted. Then it’s about addressing policy.
Trails are popular
More than half of survey participants reported that they use Sooke’s parks and trails four or more times a week. Only 3 percent of participants were infrequent users.
Engagement is mostly finished, and they will then launch into their intense analysis stage. It will go back to the community in the fall for review.
Staff noted that they have gone out and spoken to several classes to get input from students and teachers.
Tait noted seeing doggy poo bags on trees, and she asked if it was common. The answer was, No. Dog bags are a subject of debate. Some that are sold as “environmentally friendly” may not necessarily be biodegradable. The “environmentally friendly” may just be a reference to poop is picked up from the ground. Staff noted that these too are single-use plastic bags. It’s on their radar.
Deep analysis to follow.
“This report outlines for discussion the draft Memorial Plaque Contribution Policy which provides the parameters and guidelines for citizens to participate in a memorial program in the District’s parks, trails, and greenspaces. The development of the policy was guided by the Sooke Program of the Arts Committee (SPA) who collated input from the public and those with plaques on park benches. The Committee recommended limits to the number of benches in certain parks, waitlists for sponsors of memorial plaques, and types of commemorative items.”
Feedback letters from impacted citizens and bench sponsors were also taken into consideration. Also, they heard from people who wanted to be memorialized on Whiffin Spit in the future, a largely forgotten stakeholder.
What they were considering today was for all spaces that have memorial benches. Staff noted that notice was sent to media, by which they meant Print media as SPN has not received word. An RFP is out for a memorial sculpture. Some 25-26 people are satisfied, and an untold number are not.
Limits, 20 on Whiffin Spit, 4 at McGregor, and to be determined at each individual park. OR, have memorial plaques limited ONLY to the memorial sculpture. It may be more fair to have no memorial benches.
The current policy is silent on renewals.
Every application that has had a written agreement attached to it had a tenure of 10 years, though it may not have come to the attention of the person buying the plaque (grieving and other pressures).
On waitlists, how should applications be prioritized, especially when it can take a decade for a spot to become available?
On fees, nothing is cheap any more. The costs of producing plaques, doing site visits, posting the plaque. They are proposing a $750 cost for a plaque. Staff is turning to Council for direction.
The Fees Bylaw will contain information in respect to the fees for the MP based on the type of CI chosen. Staff recommend:
- Memorial Plaque on Commemorative Item (10-year tenure) with plaque returned
to Sponsor at the end of tenure $2,000.
- Memorial Plaque on Commemorative Item (10-year tenure) with plaque Memorial Plaque affixed to Memorial Sculpture at the end of tenure $2,500.
- Memorial Plaque on Memorial Sculpture at Whiffin Spit Park $750.
- Memorial Plaque on Memorial Sculpture at Marine Boardwalk or Accessible Walkway $750.
It is approximately $350 to supply and install a Memorial Plaque on a CI. It is estimated
that it costs $250 per application to administer the Policy and Operational Procedure
tasks. The balance will be used for maintenance contingency.
People “buying” a plaque aren’t actually buying a plaque, they are making a donation to the District of Sooke for which they are issued a tax receipt.
- Beddows doesn’t want to be hardnosed about it, but the contracts clearly state 10 years, so 10 years should be the limit. He personally would welcome the opportunity to have a plaque moved off the bench and on to a plaque. They do have to deal with the sensitive fact that all contracts were limited to 10 years.
- Bateman agrees, they never sold the bench to the sponsor. They sold the right to have the plaque there. He’s not in favour of moving the plaques from the benches, and more that people should be offered to renew with first refusal rights. He proposed multiple plaques on benches. Since January 2018, three people have been added to the waitlist.
- Logins agreed with the first right of refusal given to the existing bench plaque holders. The fee structure might be reconsidered if multiple plaques are allowed. Applications should be considered first come first serve, not by draw or lottery.
- McMath noted that if a bench deteriorates, that naturally ends a contract. In the case of vandalism, continuation would be established.
- Tait noted that there are places along the Spit that should have benches, even in spite of the elements, so that people can stop and rest at any stage. Staff also noted there are no picnic tables out there. There could be a more diverse asset plan on Whiffin Spit if the memorial benches policy is addressed, allowing for a broader, more comprehensive plan. Environmental considerations would also have to be balanced with such assets.
- Staff proposed Council consider a new bench design. Staff noted it shouldn’t be left to individuals to determine if a bench has one or multiple memorial plaques. Locations were often custom selected together with the family and staff.
- Bateman proposed looking at renewals and waitlists.
- On renewals, there would be one renewal allowed for another 10 years, but after that everything gets moved to the plaque.
- Staff noted right now they have 26 plaque and 22 benches, as four benches had deteriorated and had to be removed. McMath noted that benches are infrastructure and are to be replaced by the District. Plaques on the new benches can not be exclusive. Staff is currently looking at concrete and wood benches, which are about $1,800 each.
- Beddows supported that plaques are migrated from a bench to the memorial statue automatically, once the contract time has run out.
- Tait noted they “will get the stone rolling.” Staff noted all memorial plaques on benches are expired except for one. Most have been there for 15 to 20 years.
- McMath proposed a new policy where everyone gets 10 years, and after ten years families can choose to go onto the wall or to go on a bench with a wait-listed person. The new benches will allow for a second plaque.
- Logins and Tait objected to a forced departure from the benches, and both liked the memorial benches for the families. Logins also noted that a memorial stone doesn’t even yet exist.
- Beddows said don’t over think it, ultimately he wants to move away from plaques on benches and towards having just plaques on the memorial rock.
- Bateman noted that were Parkinson there, she would remind them that the original spirit of the SPA vision was to limit the benches on the Spit to 20.
- The Memorial Rock will be positioned at the entry way at the Spit, maximizing access.
- McMath proposed starting to move on the benches. When an artist arrives for the memorial stone, then they can move forward on that.
- Staff will incorporate the feedback from this evening, and revise their policy CO-002, which will come before Council probably in July.
- There will be a 10 year renewal option, at no cost to the sponsor
- Generally, there will be one option to renew for another 10 years, at cost. Beddows wanted to postpone this, to get input and feedback from Counc. Parkinson. Staff noted that the SPA committee also was very firm NOT to have an option to renew, that plaques would go to the rock or returned to the family.
- Logins moved for an option to renew for another 10 years. Carried, with Beddows opposed.
- McMath moved that all existing and new benches to allow a maximum of 5 plaques per bench. Carried, with Beddows opposed.
- Benches will be first come first served.
- Regarding the number of benches on the Spit, an operations plan will come forward from staff. It will include proposed placements for benches and picnic tables.
- If a bench is destroyed by natural erosion, the District will have the authority to move a plaque to another location. The timeline of the plaque will be honoured.
- Staff will look at using the stone wall at Ed McGregor Park for Memorial Plaques.
This will come before Council in a couple of weeks for ratification.