–Britt Santowski, SPN
Following is Sooke PocketNews’ takeaways from the May 24 Regular Council Meeting (full agenda here). As always, these are SPN’s takeaways, captured at the meeting; the final and approved version will always be the filed minutes that have been approved by Council. All mistakes are mine, and while nothing will be deleted, any factual corrections pointed out by readers, attendees and/or Council will be inserted in RED TEXT. Typos will simply be corrected.
As Ms. Gail Hall pointed out at the end of the meeting, the current configuration of the room (where Staff and Speakers have their backs to the public) makes it difficult for those in the public seating to hear. These notes are based on what could heard at the meeting.
REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
2225 OTTER POINT ROAD
- The open portion of the meeting started shortly after 7:00 p.m. All Councillors and Mayor were present.
Delegation: D-1: Sooke Transition Town Society – Category B Grant Application
Jeff Bateman presented, as per his Category B Grant Application report. He expressed his appreciation for this second chance. He presented more detailed information on the funds that the Sooke Transition Town Society was seeking, for three related projects as outlined in the Category B Grant Application.
PUBLIC QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD
Gail Hall: Expressed concerns about item RA3: Park Maintenance Contract (see this Report to Council, from later in the Agenda). Hall found the report to be insufficient, and stated that the savings of $4,000 were minuscule. “I don’t know why we’re excited about it.” She noted that is a failure to support small businesses in Sooke, since pulling these contracts will impact a number of local businesses. She also said the report inadequately detailed what Sooke will be paying for building and maintenance, licencing, insurance, and so on. “Once all things are figured in, you won’t be ahead, you’ll be behind.” Small businesses depend on having this work. “We don’t need anymore staff,” she summarized.
Jeff Bateman: Noted that the 2015/16 Canada infrastructure program grants were coming up, and that applicants can apply up until June 21. The climate action committee is applying for a number of projects, and he expressed the hope that they could receive District staff support with their grant application.
REPORTS Requiring Action:
RA-1: Residential Strata Title Conversion – Final Strata Plan Approval for 2072 Dover Street
- Recommendation: That Council approve strata plan EPS3549 for a residential strata title conversion of a two-family dwelling located at 2072 Dover St, as per this Report to Council. This carried unanimously, no discussion.
RA-2: Community Grant Review Committee Recommendations
The Grants were reviews and passed individually, as per this Report to Council. Essentially, all recommendations were carried, except for the Sooke River Bluegrass festival which received a lesser amount than recommended by the committee.
- Communica: Dialogue and Resolution Services Society Request: $3,000.00: Recommended that it be denied. Council agreed. Coun. Parkinson wanted to see them receive assistance. Coun. Reay pointed out that the request was for wages, which falls outside of the grant B framework. Carried – NIL
- Harmony Project Society of British Columbia Request: $7,000.00; Committee Decision: $7,000.00. Carried.
- Rotary Club of Sooke: Request: $3,000.00; Committee Decision: $3,000.00. Carried.
- Scouts Canada- Camp Bernard Request: $5,000.00; Committee Decision: $5,000.00. Carried. Coun. Reay: noted that the Scouts Canada was asked to look to other funding sources in the future. These funds were only a portion of other funds that they recieved, including $73,000 coming from Canada 150, to go towards kitchen reovations.
- Sooke Regiona Communities Health Network Request: $7,000.00; Committee Decision: $7,000.00. Carried.
- Sooke River Bluegrass Festival Society Request: $4,746.00; Council considered a revised recommendation for $2,650, revised by Reay. It was amended to cover Sooke Community Association Site rental coverage, for, $1,930, and $720 for Porta Potties. Coun. Logins and Parkinson wanted to see the full amount granted, as the Bluegrass Festival brings in a lot of people from out of town. Coun. Reay argued that events that charge admission need to cover their costs via ticket sales. Mayor Tait supported Coun. Parkinson’s and Coun. Login’s concerns, and noted the importance of covering costs by ticket sales. The revised recommendation Carried.
- Sooke Saltwater Series Request: $3,500.00; Committee Decision: $3,500.00. Carried.
- Sooke Transition Town Society Request: $1,200.00; Committee Decision: Carried.
RA-3: Parks Maintenance Contracts
As per this Report to Council, the request is That Council direct the CAO to
- Provide six months notice to the parks maintenance service contractors, no later than June 30, 2016, that the District of Sooke will no longer require their services;
- Establish a plan for bringing the parks maintenance services in-house, beginning January 1, 2017.
And that Council authorize the CAO to
- Hire two additional FTEs and two seasonal employees; and
- Purchase the required equipment as outlined in this report, to conduct park maintenance.
Bottom line, this motion carried, with Coun. Parkinson opposed.
Mayor Tait, addressing Ms. Hall’s concerns from the open portion of the meeting, asked where will we store all the equipment. CAO apologized for not being as clear as she could in the report. “My apologies to Ms. Hall.” Unfortunately, SPN did not hear much of the details of where the equipment would be stored.
Coun. Kasper, in support of the motion, asked about utilization of additional staff purposes other than Parks. With seasonal work requirements, he pointed out, if there’s a drought, there’s no need for mowing lawns. So, if the staff is not mowing lawns they can be doing something else. The CAO concurred that these two staff can be utilized elsewhere.
Coun. Reay stated, “I’m not often in favour of growing government.” But in this case, she was. If these staff can be multi-tasked, then she is in favour. She later reiterated, “Money saved is always a good thing. I will be supporting it.”
Coun. Parkinson had concerns with not having contracts, as the majority of them were held by local businesses. This will impact these businesses, she stated, pointing out the irony of wanting to support small businesses in Sooke but not supporting them with contracts/work.
The CAO responded that the rationale was to provide the District with the flexibility is so desperately needs when resources are required.
Coun. Pearson pointed out that the critical piece for this is good management of resources. We lose money in extras. “If we get good staff, I’ll be supporting this.”
Coun. Logins, like Coun. Parkinson, had concerns about the local business owners who rely on these contracts. She questioned the line item, of garbage collection really only costing $40K.
CAO Sullivan assured Logins, you can buy a garbage truck for $40K. It would be for collecting garbage from the parks. Staff Howitt clarified that they would be looking at a five tonne truck and a three-quarter truck, each that would be providing multi-services, like hauling garbage and equipment, tools, pulling the trailer etc. To which Coun. Kasper asked if they would be used to haul away branch clippings, debris and underbush, to which Howitt said Yes, adding that doing it in-house would alleviate a lot of the wait time, and the extra billing.
The CAO pointed out that seven contractors are difficult to manage.
Couns. Kasper and Berger provided an historical perpectiving, noting that seven years ago the District of Sooke had just one contractor. We don’t have more parks, observed Kasper, but we now have seven separate contracts to manage them. It’s become more of a management issue and created more problems, he continued. If we can boiled it down and make utilization of services, esp seasonal, we can provide better value for the taxpayers dollar.
Parkinson opposed the motion. The motion carried
REPORTS For Information – Council, Committees, COW and Commissions and Staff (CAO, Development Services)
RI-1: Mayor and Council Reports (Verbal). SPN Notable items in their reports:
- Kasper noted that the “Great Canadian Compromise” had been reached regarding access to Leech Lake. There would be no outright access ban; access can be granted by completing an access request forms. This had yet to be finalized.
- Mayor Tait: reminded everyone of the Health Summit reminder (see the SPN article here). She also drew attention to the Go! Shaw program (see the SPN article here) where she was interviewed.
RI-2: CAO Update:
- CAO Sullivan spoke about “exciting times with Sooke” referencing positive media attention regarding housing sales. Things will get really busy, she noted, saying that building permits are up about 70%. “We’re going to continue doing good things,” she concluded.
CORRESPONDENCE Requiring Action:
- C-1: New Casinos for Capital Regional District: Unclear of what happened here, but a letter will be written to the premier. Here are the supporting documents.
- C-2: CRD Bylaw No. 4029, Sooke and Electoral Area Recreation and Facilities Service Establishment Bylaw No. 1, 2016: As per these supporting documents, Council gave consent for the adoption of this bylaw.
CORRESPONDENCE For Information:
I-1: Correspondence and Information – May 12 to 18, 2016
- Kasper noted that SEAPARC is looking at a charging station
- Regarding the Roundabout Loggers Pole: “I like the idea” said Tait, “It’s something to think about.”
- Logins wanted a letter in support of the board of education’s request for increased Victoria Transit to Sooke and the Western Communities.