All five members of Cache Creek council were present at the regular meeting of June 22, which started at 4:30 p.m.
The meeting began with a presentation (via video) by Mario Piroddi of BDO Canada of the Village’s audited financial statements for the year ending Dec. 31, 2019. He noted that 2019 was a “spend” year, mentioning in particular expenditures for the pumphouse and for the new primary fire engine. He concluded by saying that the Village has just short of $4 million in surplus available for future expenditures, of which half is in the Landfill Legacy Fund. There was no discussion and no questions.
Ashcroft Chief Financial Officer Yogi Bhalla was next up, with a presentation about the Asset Management plan he has designed for the Village of Ashcroft and the possibility of collaboration with the Village of Cache Creek to assist them in starting their asset management process.
Bhalla noted the challenges small municipalities face with asset management, particularly the high costs associated with “off the shelf” asset management programs, yearly licensing fees, and the need to hire additional IT personnel, which can easily be more than $500,000 a year. He described Jugaad Innovation, which he has developed over the past two years to provide a frugal asset management alternative for small municipalities.
He explained that going forward, obtaining grants will be contingent on a municipality having an asset management plan in place or at least having started one, and that the plan helps with prioritizing spending and retaining valuable knowledge about the community’s assets. He also noted that his system allows municipalities to keep control of and own their data, which is a very valuable asset in and of itself, rather than giving control of data to an outside source.
He said that Cache Creek, which is at phase one (of five) in asset management, was not alone among small municipalities in being behind with asset management planning, and that collaboration would help both communities, by providing Cache Creek with an affordable program and Ashcroft with a “fresh look” at the system. He ended with a brief demonstration of the system, how it works, and what it can do.
Minutes and CAO report
Coun. Annette Pittman had comments about several items in the minutes of the meeting of June 8 and the way in which they were presented. CAO Martin Dalsin said that recordings of the meeting could be consulted so that Pittman’s comments could be addressed at a future meeting. There was also confusion around whether a motion from the previous meeting regarding using Landfill Legacy funds for a Community Foundation had been lifted from the table. Mayor Santo Talarico said the recording of the meeting would be consulted.
Permissive tax exemptions
Talarico wanted to make sure that entities applying for a permissive tax exemption detailed how their facility was accessible for people with mobility issues. CFO Cristina Martini said that was covered in the application form.
Coun. Wendy Coomber said she would be attending via Internet the AGM of the BC Interior Community Foundation to get more information about Community Foundations, and would follow up with questions to Northern Development Initiative Trust if necessary.
Coomber said that a new schedule for the community bus was forthcoming that did not include an extensive on-demand service for Cache Creek but did make a brief provision on Wednesdays and Fridays for limited trips within the community starting in August. “These very short times are to see how it’s going to work,” explained Coomber, noting that anything more extensive would have meant an increased cost for the Village. Eligible customers can now call in advance and ask for pick-up/drop-off service during the times the bus is in the community.
Council approved Talarico signing a joint letter from the mayors of Ashcroft and Cache Creek to Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli regarding concerns over staffing at the Ashcroft RCMP detachment and the lack of a detachment commander there since September 2019.
Opening meetings to the public
Dalsin noted a Ministerial Order from the Province on June 17 requiring all municipal governments to do whatever is necessary to open their meetings to allow more live public participation during the COVID-19 pandemic, either by finding an appropriate venue that allows for physical distancing or by livestreaming meetings so that the public can take part in real time.
While the Cache Creek council chamber is too small to allow for physical distancing, the meeting room at the Community Hall was mentioned as a possible alternative venue for the time being. Martini noted, however, that livestreaming meetings had the advantage of allowing people to take part who might not otherwise be able to be physically present at a meeting, and would also be a better way to engage young people.
Pittman suggested moving to the Community Hall, as that would serve people who did not have computer access; she said the meetings could also be livestreamed. Dalsin agreed that combining the two options would be ideal, but that it would mean upgrading the technology in either the council chamber or the meeting room at the Hall to allow livestreaming. Talarico expressed his wish to stay in the council chamber and upgrade the technology there, but it was also noted that improving the electronic capability of the Community Hall meeting room — which is also the Village’s Emergency Operations Centre — could make it easier to market it to other potential users. Dalsin informed council that a decision did not have to be made immediately.
The meeting went into closed session at 6:10 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 regular meeting of council is scheduled for Monday, July 20 at 7 p.m.