Cache Creek council members (from l) Lisa Dafoe, Annette Pittman, mayor Santo Talarico, Wendy Coomber, and Sue Peters, November 2018. (Photo credit: Submitted)

Argument abounds at contentious Cache Creek council meeting

Coun. Pittman stripped of deputy mayor appointment following heated exchange

Coun. Lisa Dafoe was the only member not present at the Cache Creek council open meeting on Monday, Sept. 14, which began at 7 p.m.

Housing Needs Assessment

The meeting began with a presentation about the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s preliminary Housing Needs Assessment for Cache Creek. A full report will appear in the Journal.

Community Foundation

The question of the Village setting up a Community Foundation was revisited for the seventh consecutive meeting. At the July 20 meeting, council approved a contribution of $50,000 from the Landfill Legacy Fund to set up a Community Foundation, with Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) matching that sum for a beginning balance of $100,000. This balance can be added to by other donors.

It was confirmed that the funds, which are handled by a committee that is separate from council, are able to be disbursed to any eligible group, organization, or entity; that there is a guaranteed return of no less than 3.5 per cent interest on the principle per year (of which one per cent goes to the BC Interior Community Foundation for administration); and that any monies deposited are there in perpetuity, and cannot subsequently be returned to the Village.

The Letter of Agreement states that “The Intent of this Fund is to assist the Village in supporting organizations in the Village and area.” Coun. Wendy Coomber wanted “and area” to be removed, arguing that this was a disservice to the taxpayers of Cache Creek. “I would like to see this fund strictly for Cache Creek.” Talarico and Coun. Sue Peters felt it should remain, so that the funds could be used for groups outside, but connected to and providing benefits for, Cache Creek, with Peters noting that if the committee did not think an application was worthy it would not be approved. The wording stood, and the letter of agreement — as well as an application to apply to NDIT for a matching grant — was approved 3–1, with Pittman dissenting on both votes.

Clean/renewable energy grants

Council moved to direct staff to develop a Request for Proposal for a solar installation company to conduct a feasibility study related to solar power in the Village, with the goal of reducing the Village’s power costs, and to apply for grants to cover costs related to a clean/renewable energy infrastructure program. In answer to a question from Pittman about where solar panels might be placed, Martini said that it would depend on individual buildings’ construction, roof capacity, and electrical systems. CAO Martin Dalsin said that the two Village facilities with the highest energy demands were the sewage treatment plant and the water treatment plant.

Tax reminder letter

Pittman had been asked to provide a copy of the tax reminder letter sent to all business owners with outstanding taxes which she had received, and which she claimed (at the July 20 meeting) was different to the letter sent to other businesses. The six-and-a-half minute argument between Pittman and Talarico which followed necessitated clarification as to whether Pittman ever produced her letter (she did not). Pittman appeared to change the focus of her argument from claiming her letter was different to claiming that Martini had been rude and unprofessional during a phone call regarding said letter, reiterated her claim that Martini was a liar, and said she had not received an opportunity to speak at the previous meeting, which Talarico said was contradicted by the tape.

Talarico read a prepared statement in which he said that “It is disturbing and frankly unacceptable for a councillor to degrade, humiliate, and insinuate CFO Martini is a liar.” He rescinded Pittman’s appointment as deputy mayor from Dec. 2020 to Dec. 2021, and acknowledged that council is “painfully aware of the challenges you [Martini] and the finance committee face in our community. I’m expressing our gratitude on behalf of the citizens you serve in deciphering years of financial records and putting the integrity of our municipality on a level which hasn’t been reached in many years.”

The discussion appeared to be over; then Talarico called Pittman a “disgrace”, to which Pittman replied “You are,” sparking more argument. Peters ended the matter by declaring the question asked and answered, calling a point of order, and asking everyone to move on.

Public access to council meetings

Council passed a motion to keep its meetings closed to the public, as Cache Creek council chambers are not large enough to allow for proper distancing and moving meetings to the Community Hall would be cost prohibitive, but to allow members of the public to attend on a case by case basis. Dalsin noted that holding meetings at the hall would necessitate staff attendance to gather contact tracing information, and clean and sanitize properly, which would add a “substantial” cost to meetings. Pittman asked if a timeline could be provided as to when meetings could be reopened (the answer was “No”), and voted against keeping the meetings closed.

There was also some discussion about changing the time of the first council meeting of the month, which currently starts at 7 p.m., and adding additional meetings in July and August (only one meeting is currently held in each month). No decisions were made.

East Trans-Canada Highway bridge

Construction of the bridge over Cache Creek has been delayed because of a possible finding of archaeological significance. Dalsin said the project would not likely be tendered this year.

Ministry of Transportation

A virtual meeting with Claire Trevenna, Minister of Transportation, did not result in any promised movement on either a new culvert under Highway 97 near Dairy Queen or four-laning of the highway bridge at the north end of the Village. The latter was promised by the previous Liberal government during an announcement in March 2017.

Situation at Wander Inn building

The Journal asked what the status of the Wander Inn building is, given that a cannabis grow operation is allegedly operating within it in defiance of Village bylaws. Talarico replied that there is no business licence for the building, and Dalsin said that the Village cannot prove there is a business operating there. Talarico added that work dealing with the situation at the Wander Inn is “ongoing” and that it is hoped the matter can be dealt with through the development of cannabis and hemp legislation for the Village.

The meeting went into closed session at 8:30 p.m.

All minutes and agendas for Cache Creek council meetings can be found on the Village’s website at http://www.village.cachecreek.bc.ca/. The next scheduled regular meeting of council is on Monday, Sept. 28 at 4:30 p.m.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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