The Village of Clinton held a regular meeting of council on Wednesday, Dec. 11, which was preceded by a public hearing regarding a property zoning change at the old elementary school grounds.
Zoning change approved
All members of Village staff and council were present, with council voting all in favour to approve the third reading and then the final reading of the bylaw amendment requesting the change of the current zoning at the property—located at 300 Smith Avenue— from P1 to R2. This is necessary for Clinton’s Assisted Living Society to proceed with its Seniors’ Housing Project.
Council voted to adopt the Spirit of Clinton Committee’s amended Terms of Reference, and also approved the Fraser Basin Council to apply for funding of up to $150,000 on behalf of the Village of Clinton (VOC) to complete an Integrated Flood and Steep Creek Hazard Risk Assessment. Mayor Susan Swan explained that the project would come at no cost to the Village and pointed out the major flooding that has occurred in Cache Creek in recent years. The motion passed unanimously.
An annual housekeeping review also took place during the meeting, which included a lot of items to review for potential changes in the future.
Clinton internet connectivity
Back in November, council received an update from internet provider ABC Communications. ABC’s Falko Kadenback described proposed changes to the delivery of internet services for Clinton; changes which meant that fibre optic connection won’t yet be available.
Council has put off the decision on whether to proceed with the alternative services suggested by ABC Communications for some time, and has since sought more information from the provider itself and reached out to other sources. Mayor Swan noted that Kadenback provided responses to all of the Village’s questions and concerns, and that council held a special meeting on the subject earlier in December.
The proposed changes involve millimetre wave distribution, which would use various hubs throughout the community. It doesn’t take the option of fibre optic off the table, but would rather “lay the framework” for future development.
After some discussion, Coun. Christine Rivett made a successful motion to approve ABC Communications to seek approval from funders before starting its installation of the new equipment in the community. She pointed out that technology is rapidly changing, and Mayor Swan noted that the Village will be getting an improvement on the technology already in place.
Coun. Kim McIlravey said that accepting the changed proposal from ABC will be a start for Clinton and a “stepping stone” towards achieving fibre optic connectivity down the road.
“The funding is approved here,” said acting CAO Tom Dall. “If you go back into the pot, you may not get in, and that’s the real fear.”
Coun. David Park was quite passionate about continuing to fight for fibre optic to the home. “In my heart of hearts I wanted fibre to the home,” he said. “I’m just hoping and praying that this will be a step forward.”
Clinton Emergency Plan and Wildfire response
“We’ve been working on our Emergency Plan for the Village for the past two years and we’ve been wanting to have our own standalone plan,” said Mayor Swan. “We have the 2003 Clinton Emergency measures bylaw that lays out the responsibilities of the Village, and those responsibilities haven’t changed since that time.”
Coun. Rivett said “I don’t have a problem with working with them [the TNRD], but I really think we need our own set-up here.” Coun. Park asked what the pros and cons may be of collaborating with the TNRD, and listed a pro as access to more resources. He wondered aloud if there are any cons.
Dall said that there is often dispute between local and larger agencies during emergency situations. He pointed to the magnitude of the Elephant Hill wildfire and its wide impact on various communities throughout the province. “Under the normal circumstances, working with the TNRD has been successful,” he said. “Resources—definitely they have the contacts to make things happen faster than locally.”
Coun. Park made a motion that council adopt the VOC and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District VOC Evacuation Plan 2019 with corrections, which prompted a few more comments from council. “I think the 2017 situation overwhelmed not just the TNRD but a lot of areas because of the magnitude,” said Mayor Swan, to which Coun. Rivett replied “I think you’re being very naive” before opposing Park’s motion and asking to have her vote recorded.
Fees and Charges bylaw report
At the Nov. 27 council meeting, council was provided with a Fees and Charges bylaw package that explained rate structures for both water and sewer in the community. A list of six other considerations were included in the Acting CAO’s report to council on the bylaw, which included proposed changes to business license rates and dog licenses.
The most pertinent decision in the lengthy Fees and Charges bylaw package surrounded whether or not to leave VOC water and sewer rates at their existing percentages or to increase those rates.
“In order to make the money up that we need to and [to meet] the requirements for reserves we have to either stretch that over a longer period of time or look at an increase,” said Mayor Swan. “We had put the increase on specific properties so that we were getting more money in from, say, the vacant lots.”
There was extensive back-and-forth between Swan, Dall, and Park on what rates will help the community achieve its goals. Ultimately, council decided that 3.5 percent is where they need to be for water percentage rates.
Coun. Park inquired if a rebate would be possible and Swan answered “Knowing that our [next] council meeting isn’t until 2020, can we still get a rebate, because at the end of 2019, any unpaid water and sewer is added to taxes?” Council eventually agreed upon a 3.5 per cent rate for water and a 2 per cent rate for sewer, with a rebate requested as well.
Next, council discussed for some time whether or not to maintain the annual fees for dog licenses or change those fees back to a single licence good for the lifetime of the dog, which was previously in place in Clinton. The cost would be $40.
“We have an animal control officer that we need to pay. Without the annual fee for the dog licenses, we didn’t have money to cover that,” said Mayor Swan.
DCO Mandy McKague said that the problem is that people are not coming to renew their tags annually. Mayor Swan suggested distributing the tags without inscribed dates.
Coun Park asked which option would constitute less work for Village staff, and McKague suggested lifetime licenses.
“It’s annual right now, we’re saying we want to move it back,” clarified Dall. A return to lifetime dog licence fees was council’s final decision.
Council went on to set the rental of the Village band shell and chairs at a flat fee, and also set water rates for on/off services at a fee of $40 for turning either on or off (rather than $40 for each change) unless authorized by the CAO. Council also changed rates for business licenses for Manufacturing, Refining, and Energy Production to $120 per year.
This change includes businesses such as sawmills or salvage yards, but not those businesses that include vehicle repairs.
Grant-in-aid policy decision delayed
After a brief discussion, council did not move forward with the recommended motion to adopt the Administrative Grant-in-Aid Policy No. A-2019-16 and repeal all prior Grant-in-Aid Policies. Instead, they decided to take the report away and consider it further over the holiday season. “I think it’s best if you guys take it away and look at it,” said Dall.
“You’ve got your homework,” concluded Swan. “Review those numerous pages and bring back your recommendations to staff.”
The motion was subsequently deferred until 2020, and Mayor Swan called the regular meeting to a close at 8:19 p.m.
The agendas and minutes for all Village of Clinton council meetings, as well as a schedule of meetings, are available at https://village.clinton.bc.ca/.