At a special council meeting on July 17, Cache Creek council voted to adopt a water rates amendment bylaw. Council also voted to approve the proposed drag race event at the Campbell Hill airport on the weekend of Aug. 24, subject to receiving written confirmation of various items requested by council.
The motion was to give Thunder in the Valley Raceway permission to use the airport, with an amendment that all paperwork must be submitted in advance. It was explained that prior to the first drag race event at the airport, during the Graffiti Days weekend in early June, council had asked for written confirmation regarding eight items, but had only received verbal confirmation.
There had also been a request that insurance in the amount of $10 million be taken out as coverage for the event, but that only $2 million in insurance was in place for the races, something that was only found out the day before the event started.
Cllr. Annette Pittman asked if the coverage would be higher for the August races, noting that $25 million in insurance was strongly recommended. CAO Martin Dalsin replied that he hoped to discuss this with Dwight Toews, the race organizer, adding that Toews had told him that the cost of obtaining $10 million in insurance would have killed the event. “I’d hope that we can get at least $5 million in insurance. It’s a very risky event.”
Cllr. Sue Peters—who, along with Mayor Santo Talarico—met with Toews and the race committee on July 2, noted that council was not trying to put roadblocks in the way of the races. “We’re trying to ensure a safe event. [Toews] did an amazing job in pulling the races together in six weeks, but some of the t’s weren’t crossed. We need to stress the importance of protecting the Village of Cache Creek’s interests.”
“And the interests of taxpayers,” added Dalsin, who also noted that due to the fact the airport is not used for many events, there is no rental fee in place for the venue, and a fee had not been discussed with Toews. “We’ll suggest a rental rate for the airport.” Cllr. Wendy Coomber said that a rental agreement would be a good idea, with Peters agreeing, noting that would address things.
Pittman said she realized that the first races had been arranged in a short time. “We have time, now, for the second one. I don’t see things improving without council putting its foot down. Do they understand the seriousness?”
Dalsin said that the upcoming drag races in August were subject to the Village receiving the financial statements from the first event, as well as a written security report addressing issues such as washrooms and waste management at the site. “We know they did it, and we relaxed things for the first event. We want it in writing for future events.”
The need to move the tower that has been erected at the airstrip was also discussed, as it is too close to the end of the runway. As a result, the Campbell Hill Airport is currently under a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen), which is filed with an aviation authority to alert pilots to potential hazards along a flight route or at a specific location that could affect safety. Dalsin said that the plan was to move the tower to a safer location.
During questions from the public at the end of the meeting, it was noted that the policing cost rebate has been eliminated for residents of Cache Creek. After the meeting, Dalsin said that the move was made as part of budget control. “We wound up having to put in place a 10 per cent tax increase this year, and it would have been higher if we hadn’t cancelled the policing rebate.”
A member of the public asked about the increase in water and sewer rates (five per cent each). It was explained that water and sewer need to be self-sustaining, and that the Village is not currently bringing in enough in water and sewer rates to cover the costs of those services. This has meant transferring money from general revenue into both accounts to make up the shortfall.
In order to make both water and sewer self-sustaining (sewer by 2023 and water by 2026), the Village’s five year financial plan calls for a five per cent increase in both rates every year for the next five years, although Dalsin noted that this was subject to review during each year’s budget discussions. He added that the increases were also contingent on no significant operational issues.