All five members of Cache Creek council were present for the regular council meeting of July 20, which began at 7 p.m., with Coun. Lisa Dafoe arriving at 7:20 p.m.
Minutes of June 8 meeting
The meeting began with discussion of, and three motions about, the minutes of the regular council meeting of June 8. At the June 22 meeting, Coun. Annette Pittman had requested that the minutes be amended.
The discussion lasted some time, with Coun. Wendy Coomber saying that she found the additions “frivolous”. Pittman replied that she did not, but did object to the wording of one of the amended items, asking that some of it be struck from the minutes. This occasioned a five-minute discussion before Mayor Santo Talarico called a vote on the question, which was defeated 3–1 with Pittman the lone dissenter.
There was more discussion about the establishment of a Community Foundation, which would see Northern Development Initiative Trust match funding from the Village, or other sources, up to $50,000 (for a potential total of $100,000) to create a fund to benefit local non-profit organizations. Coomber, who first brought up the idea of a Community Foundation at the May 11 meeting, suggested that council meet with the BC Interior Community Foundation for a discussion about the fund and to get more answers. She did note that as only the interest generated from the fund can be disbursed, it could take between two and five years to start seeing funding being given out, as the principal cannot be touched.
A motion to use $50,000 from the Landfill Legacy Fund to establish a Community Foundation was made. Pittman asked if there were any restrictions on what money from the Legacy Fund could be used for, and CAO Martin Dalsin replied that the original motion to set up the fund did not stipulate any specific criteria regarding use of the money. “The motion was very broad-based to show the benefit of having the landfill to the local community,” he explained. “It was to be used to borrow from ourselves for large projects, and was very generic, with no real restrictions.”
There was no definite answer as to whether or not the $50,000 from the Village would revert to the Village in the event that the Foundation ceased to be an entity. It was also noted that as only registered non-profits could apply for, and be granted, funds that would exclude almost all groups in Cache Creek, although it was pointed out that entities such as the Elizabeth Fry Society, which is based in Ashcroft but serves residents of Cache Creek, could apply.
The motion to withdraw $50,000 from the Landfill Legacy Fund passed 3–1, with Pittman opposed.
Dafoe joined the meeting in time to discussion a motion approving Coomber as a signing authority for all cheques. Pittman asked who currently has authority to sign cheques, and was told Talarico and Coun. Sue Peters (who with Coomber are the three council members on the Finance Committee) can sign, as can CAO Dalsin and CFO Cristina Martini (one council member and one staff member must sign all cheques).
Pittman asked why another signing officer was needed, and Peters replied that it was deemed a conflict of interest for either herself or Talarico to sign cheques payable to Peters’ daughter Alana, who is the Finance Administration Clerk for the Village of Cache Creek and who is in a relationship with Talarico. Pittman pressed for more clarification about internal procedures, and when Talarico asked her to be more specific she said that she was concerned about the possibility of Coomber and Dalsin — who have been partners for 33 years — signing cheques together. It was clarified that this would never be the case, with Dalsin telling the Journal later that the Village is following the rules as established by different financial accounting standards: “You cannot have people in a relationship signing cheques together.”
Proceedings became rather testy at this point, with Talarico noting that it was “very enlightening” for him to find out how little Pittman knew about how council operates. More sharp words were exchanged before Peters called a point of order and the motion was voted on. It passed by a vote of 4–1, with Pittman opposed.
Asset management collaboration
Following a presentation by Ashcroft CFO Yogi Bhalla at the June 22 meeting regarding the asset management plan he has devised for Ashcroft, and a request to partner with Cache Creek, council discussed motions to apply for a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for Ashcroft-Cache Creek asset management collaboration, and also apply $6,865 from its budget towards this. Coomber thought that the asset management program was “awesome” and that there was a lot Cache Creek could do with it, with Martini agreeing: “The [off the shelf] software and programs look great, but what Bhalla has done for Ashcroft makes it much simpler, for cooperation and future development.” Peters agreed, saying it would be good to be able to work together and easier to manage if both communities were on the same page. Both motions passed unanimously.
Council approved a motion approving a quote of $45,096 from Thibeault Contracting to replace the fencing at the Campbell Hill airport, which was destroyed during the Elephant Hill wildfire in 2017, and also approved using Gas Tax funds for the project. Dalsin noted that no one else in the area did the same quality of fencing, and that everyone he had spoken to recommended Thibeault Contracting. It was also noted that unfortunately, the Village had missed out on the window to apply for Canadian Red Cross funding to replace the fencing.
Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) approval
The SOFI report for financial year 2019, which includes a listing of remuneration and expenses for council members and for employees earning more than $75,000 per year, all suppliers of goods and services of more than $25,000, and more, was on the table for approval.
Martini noted that council expenses had been overstated on the report as presented, and had an amended report. Pittman — whose amended expenses for 2019 of $8,244 topped the list — asked that the report be tabled for discussion at a future meeting in light of the changed figures, but the report was approved 4–1 as amended, with Pittman opposed.
Peters’ expenses for 2019 were $7,972; Coomber’s were $6,442; Talarico’s were $2,736; and Dafoe’s were $2,062.
There was a lengthy discussion about the 2020 flood season. Peters noted that all requests for funding for 2020 flood expenses (except a recent one that was still pending) had been approved by Emergency Management BC. She also noted that there was a list of things the Village might have to do, and that if approved, 80 per cent of the costs would be covered by Disaster Relief Funding. Coomber said she would like to speak with the Province about making the funding 100 per cent for small communities, noting that 20 per cent of a large expense is onerous for many small municipalities.
It was noted that this year’s flood season was “unprecedented”, starting with Evacuation Orders on April 18 and continuing through early July. Peters said that severe bank sloughing meant that infrastructure such as sewer lines that had been 30 feet from the bank when constructed were now much closer due to the amount of ground lost.
“A question I’m asking on behalf of everyone in the community who’s asked me is ‘How do we prevent the next flood?’” asked Coomber.
“We don’t know,” replied Peters. “We can’t do it for next year, as we won’t get permissions [for mitigation work] for months. There’s a small window to do work.” She added that any work the Village does affects other people along the river.
“I say to taxpayers that we’re doing all we can,” said Talarico. “But a lot of it happens outside [Village] boundaries and just funnels in here.” He also noted that given the high cost of mitigation work, it was probably cheaper for the province to “let us deal with it” and pay the 80 per cent of costs.
The meeting went into closed session shortly before 8 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, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m.