The Village of Clinton held a regular meeting of council on Wednesday, Nov. 27, with all members of council in attendance and eight members of the public present.
Question period began with inquiries from the public into community bylaws and taxes, specifically related to water and sewer connections and charges. Ted Pappas recalled writing a letter to Mayor Susan Swan, to which he claimed he did not receive a satisfactory reply.
“By what bylaw are you given the authority to levy penalties and taxes on lots that have never been hooked up to sewer or water?” he asked. “I’m wondering, how in the heck you can force me to pay those rates, $450 a month?”
Pappas explained that some of his property doesn’t have connections available for water and sewer, which is a predicament shared by various other local property owners. He and another gallery member noted that it doesn’t make sense to pay taxes on a service they cannot use.
“I asked you for the bylaw,” he said. “I refuse to pay the taxes until we can resolve this matter in some fashion.”
Pappas also raised concerns about the local Community Forest. “Once again, we have situations arising which I don’t quite understand.” This was a reference to past council meetings in which the Village discussed consolidating the Community Forest’s financial audit within its own yearly audit. Pappas stated his belief that the choice to remove the Community Forest’s separate auditing process constitutes a very dangerous situation.
“I want to know, will the council be given opportunities to view the financial statements of our Community Forest?”
“Obviously, yes,” said Mayor Swan. “They form part of the Village finances that are audited and put in the annual report every year.”
During question period, another gallery member spoke up to thank the Village for its help alongside the Community Forest in bringing a new ice scraper to the local Curling Club.
Moving on to administrative reports, council returned to the Clinton Community Forest Storage Agreement, and Coun. Christine Rivett made a motion that council approve and sign the agreement. “It’s a five year agreement in the amount of $1 per year.”
With no discussion, council voted all in favour to pass the agreement, before moving on to discuss a decision following the recent presentation from ABC Communications.
At the Nov. 13 meeting of council, Falko Kadenbach of ABC updated the community on the development of high-speed internet access, informing council that at this time, full fibre optic access through ABC Communications is not an option for Clinton.
In regards to whether or not to proceed with service through ABC, Coun. David Park stated that he was on the fence. “In my mind, ABC kind of blew it in their proposal,” he stated. “We’re not getting fibre to the home.”
He raised concerns that continuing with ABC would be a gamble, as other local internet providers could catch up in their service offerings by the time Clinton actually completes the newly revised project model.
“We’re not going to have fibre to the home, so where is the benefit to our community?” he asked. “Is there any more information from ABC that would clear it up for us?” He also wondered aloud what may happen if council agrees to the newly proposed LTE solution rather than the initially promised fibre optic.
Mayor Swan noted her disappointment when ABC brought the wrong digital presentation to council chambers on Nov. 13. She went on to echo Park’s concerns: “If we accept this, will we ever get fibre to the home?”
Coun. Rivett argued that most residents don’t actually need fibre in the home, but also stated her concern that council respond to ABC with their decision in a timely matter. She also recalled a previous deal offered by Telus, which the community could not afford.
“Sure, I’d love to have fibre, but I’m just afraid that if we say ‘no’ we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot, and then who is going to give us fibre?”
Coun. Kim McIlravey spoke up at this point to state that she believed council could benefit from more information in forming a decision. Coun. Sandi Burrage agreed, and council made a motion to defer the subject until acquiring more information, at which point there may be a special meeting to address that information.
Council voted to support an application to the NDIT Business Façade Improvement Program for funding opportunities to a maximum of $20,000, then received an update from the Fees and Charges Working Group provided by Coun. Burrage. Mayor Swan asked that all councillors review the draft bylaw and bring back their comments or concerns before the next meeting.
Coun. Park addressed the proposed changes to the Fire Department Remuneration Bylaw, which was on the agenda for final reading, and was approved. Moving on to address the Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw No. 562, 2019, Mayor Swan noted, “This is something we have to do every year even though it’s the same properties involved.
“There are certain properties that are exempted from taxes. Those are the churches, a portion of the museum, and the curling club.”
Coun. Rivett made a motion to approve the bylaw for four years from 2019 to 2023 with an effective date of Aug. 26, 2019. Council also voted to approve amendments to the Business Bylaw No. 551, 2017 and the Clinton Ticket Information Bylaw No. 438, 2006 to state that fees or fines will instead be outlined in the Fees and Charges Bylaw. CAO Tom Dall explained that addressing these two bylaws was a bit of housekeeping for the Village and noted that “the intent of the bylaw is not changing.”
Moving on to council reports, Coun. Burrage clarified a comment she made during the council meeting on Nov. 13, when council voted to approve the cannabis store, Cynders, at 1300 Cariboo Highway.
When voicing her concerns about the proposed location’s proximity to the Village’s only school, Burrage had stated, “That’s our bad side of town,” referencing the south entrance of the Village where the store would set up shop, directly off Highway 97. During the Nov. 27 meeting, Burrage emphasized that she did not mean to imply that there is a bad or good side of town. Rather, she referenced the less scenic entrance to the Village, “as observed by Economic Development Community Development Consulting during their First Impressions Audit.
“That side coming into town—the south entrance—is not as scenic as the north entrance,” she concluded.
Coun. McIlravey also presented a verbal report, apologizing that she had lost her notes from this month’s Spirit of Clinton Committee meeting. Still, she provided an update from memory. “Most of the groups in town have been really busy,” she said, adding that the Curling Club may plan a family dance in March, around St. Patrick’s Day.
With no new business to address, Mayor Swan made a motion to proceed in camera at 7:49 p.m., bringing the meeting to a close.
As always, council agendas are available for public access online at Clinton’s website (https://village.clinton.bc.ca/) or in person at the Village Office.