All five members of council were present at the Cache Creek council meeting on Dec. 14, which started at 7 p.m.
Council considered a request to approve the write-off the $4,202.91 in utilities outstanding for Chum’s Restaurant, which has been closed since November 2019 and changed ownership on Jan. 21, 2020. Coun. Annette Pittman disagreed with writing off the amount, stating that it was the owner’s responsibility to cancel the services as per village bylaw.
Coun. Sue Peters asked for confirmation that services (water and sewer) to the location had been shut off. CFO Cristina Martini confirmed this, adding that in November 2019 the former owner had asked for services to be shut off, and the services had not been used since January. The new owners were under the assumption that since there were no services to the location, billing for 2020 was likewise cancelled. However, Cache Creek does not have a mechanism whereby cancelling utility service automatically cancels billing for that service.
The motion to write off the money owing passed 4–1, with Pittman opposed.
COVID-19 Safe Restart grant
Cache Creek has received $461,000 under the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grants for Local Governments program, which is to help local governments as they deal with increased operating costs and lower revenues due to COVID-19. Martini noted that the funds were to be used mainly for operational matters, and cannot be used to reduce 2021 taxes or keep taxes artificially low. Certain capital costs are acceptable, including facility restart, upgrade, and retrofit costs to deal with COVID-19.
Martini said there were quite a few costs and expenses incurred by the village that qualified under the program, but added that council needed to think about what was needed to be COVID-safe in 2021, as well as services for the public. CAO Martin Dalsin noted that council and staff had discussed the need to have videoconferencing capability in the council chambers. “That would definitely be an eligible project.”
Mayor Santo Talarico asked that public works staff provide input on ways they would like to see this funding utilized, and that this input be brought back to council for consideration. He also said that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs was open to questions about specific projects and whether they qualified.
Bylaw enforcement recommendations
Council discussed the Inter-Community Bylaw Enforcement agreement, which would see a bylaw officer hired jointly by Cache Creek, Clinton, and Ashcroft. They rescinded a motion which committed $50,000 for 2021 and $30,000 per year for each subsequent year, and then discussed a budget option based on a four-day work week with Ashcroft committing to two days per week and the other communities committing to one day per week. This would commit both Cache Creek and Clinton to spending $26,853 each in 2021, and $15,919 each in subsequent years (Ashcroft would pay $39,653 in 2021 and $28,719 annually thereafter).
Peters, who is part of the bylaw officer working group, noted that new Clinton CAO Murray Daly has a background in bylaw enforcement and was able to provide valuable input into the budgeting cost process. Pittman asked how many bylaw complaints the village received in a year, information which was not at hand. She also asked why costs such as uniforms, a laptop, training, etc. were split 1/3 between all three communities when Cache Creek was only getting 1/4 of the bylaw officer’s time. Peter explained that those were fixed costs which would not change regardless of where a bylaw officer worked or for how many days.
Peters said that the first year would be the busiest, as it was anticipated that infractions would go down as people saw bylaws being enforced and consequences for non-compliance. Dalsin added that at the moment, many village bylaws have no teeth and enforcement consists of writing a letter and hoping people comply, and he too expected a lot of bylaw complaints at the beginning. “A lot of the people who might complain or give us a notice of a bylaw infraction are choosing not to do so because they don’t think anything will happen.” It was also noted that the Ashcroft RCMP are fully supportive of increased bylaw enforcement, as it gives them more power to deal with complaints.
The option committing Cache Creek to $26,853 in costs in 2021 and $15,919 annually thereafter passed 4–1, with Pittman opposed.
Old water reservoir
Peters recused herself from a discussion of a request by the Ashcreek TV Society to return a building near the old water reservoir to the village. The society had been using the building as a studio and storage facility since 1994, but no longer has a need for it. They also stated that they had neither the means nor resources to dispose of the remaining items inside the building and return it to its original condition.
Dalsin noted that there was evidence of mice in the building and that it would need to be professionally cleaned and then rodent-proofed, rather than done by the village crew. A motion to receive and file the letter and research the cost of the necessary work at the site was carried.
Council moved to receive and file a letter from Cache Creek resident Tom Lewis asking if the village has a written document that details a coordinated, integrated, and layered action plan by various levels of government including the village pertaining to flooding, and to reply with details of the initiatives being undertaken. Talarico noted that he has corresponded with Lewis on a number of occasions, providing information and details of where Cache Creek is as a community. He noted, however, that federal and provincial governments have to take the lead in this area. “We’re dealing with waterways and Department of Fisheries and Oceans and provincial and federal regulations and we have to follow their lead… . We’ve done all we can do up to this point.”
The meeting went in camera at 7:40 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 Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.m.