A decision made at a closed meeting of Cache Creek council on March 23 means that the Cache Creek pool will not be opening for the 2020 season.
Four members of Cache Creek council were present (and observing social distancing) at the open council meeting which preceded the closed session, and which started at 4:30 p.m. Coun. Annette Pittman took part via conferenc call.
Coun. Sue Peters asked for clarification on the next step in the process of a zoning bylaw amendment that has been given first reading. CAO Martin Dalsin replied that there would need to be a public hearing, but that given the current situation that might prove problematic, so movement on the amendment might need to be put on hold.
Council approved the extension of the deadline for the 10 per cent discount on utility payments to May 31, and also approved a motion allowing seniors to claim the discount on their utilities without having to physically sign the form, which will be held and can be signed when restrictions are lifted.
Mayor Santo Talarico outlined steps that had been taken to secure Village facilities, including taping off the playground equipment in the park and putting padlocks on the community hall entrances. Members of the Ash-Creek TV Society who operate the radio station have remote access to the site, and will also be given a key to the padlock on their door in the event they need physical access to the station.
The week of May 10 to 16 was declared by Talarico to be Canadian Royal Purple Week, at the request of Ashcroft Lodge #263, which was formed in 1961.
Coomber gave a brief summary of a meeting on March 17 hosted by the Ashcroft Indian Band and involving representatives from the Villages of Cache Creek and Ashcroft, the TNRD, Interior Health, BC Emergency Health Services, and the Ashcroft Pharmacy. There was discussion about the COVID-19 situation and actions being taken, facilities and resources that could be shared, and the supply of medications to the local pharmacy.
Coun. Lisa Dafoe gave details of an Emergency Management planning and information session she, Coomber, and Peters had attended, which featured a discussion of the upcoming season.
Dalsin noted that the Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department has ceased fire practices until further notice, but is available for call outs. There is a supply of sand and sandbags at the fire hall, so that people can fill their own sandbags in preparation for the spring freshet. He added that people should only take what they need, and observe social distancing at the site.
Talarico noted a conversation he had had with Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis, and council discussed various options for future online conferences. Many of the services available have serious security concerns, and the conference facility currently available poses challenges of its own. The possibility of using the small boardroom at the Community Hall, rather than council chambers, for council meetings was also discussed, as the boardroom gives more room for social distancing.
The meeting went into a closed session at 5 p.m. Information released from that closed session shows that the topic of the Cache Creek pool was discussed, with council ultimately deciding (by a three to two vote) not to open the pool for the 2020 season.
Talarico has said that the COVID-19 pandemic played a big part in the decision-making process, but that a number of other factors led to the decision to close the pool, which he called “unfortunate”. One of these factors is the $63,000 in delinquent (unpaid) taxes owed to the Village for 2019, and he expects more delinquencies this year because of the effects of COVID-19. He added that the closure of the pool — which costs approximately $140,000 per year to run — could be readdressed by council prior to the 2021 season.
Minutes and agendas for all Cache Creek council meetings can be found on the Village website at http://www.village.cachecreek.bc.ca/.