All five members of council were present at the Cache Creek council meeting held at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, and the first item discussed at length was the Semlin aquifer east of the Village and north of Highway 1.
CAO Martin Dalsin explained that there are two projects related to water for which funding is being sought. Phase one would be a study to see about developing a third well in the Cache Creek park on the Bonaparte aquifer, and phase two would be to do some exploration on the Semlin auqifer to see if it is feasible to bring it into the Village’s water system so “all our eggs aren’t in one basket.”
“If something goes wrong with the Bonaparte aquifer then we’re looking at the only water source we would have is taking directly from the Bonaparte River,” said Dalsin, adding that would involve a huge amount of extra work for filtration, licensing, and more.
Coun. Sue Peters noted that Northern Development Initiative Trust has raised the total amount available for its “Fabulous Festivals and Events” grants from $50,000 to $60,000 (organizations can apply for $2,500 or $5,000 depending on the budget of their event). NDIT will also be introducing six new programs to support communities, and will be making the reporting requirements less onerous.
Mayor Santo Talarico said that after hearing this news he was even more thankful than he had been a year ago that the Village had opted back into the general pool of funds available from NDIT.
“They’re a first-class organization and they have the smaller municipalities at heart, and the struggles they go through. They’re more than happy to help in any capacity. Can’t say enough [about] our funds going into the general pool.”
Peters proposed a motion that the Village apply for the Fabulous Festivals and Events grant for Graffiti Days, which passed.
A motion to allow for the closure of the Village office on Friday, Feb. 14 so that staff could complete year end filing, which had been deferred from the previous meeting, again led to a lengthy discussion.
Dalsin noted that the one-day closure is something the Village has traditionally done in order to allow staff to complete the work without disruptions. He added that if council felt strongly that the office needed to remain open, staff could be asked to come in on a weekend and take a day off in lieu.
When Peters noted that it had been asked if one member of staff could be available to handle inquiries from the public, Dalsin was adamant that that did not work. CFO Cristina Martini reiterated that the closure was necessary, but added that the work could possibly be completed in half a day. Later in the meeting, Dalsin said that an average of three or four people a day might come into the office at this time of year.
Coun. Annette Pittman said she felt the office could be kept open with one member of staff maintaining the office desk for any public inquiries. She also noted that senior staff were on a salary and not an hourly basis, and therefore were “expected to remain until the task is completed… this is what we’re paying the higher wages for.”
Peters said that she trusted staff when they recommended the office be closed. Talarico noted that he understood staff’s point of view and the necessity of the work, and appreciated that the Village was understaffed.
However, he said that the Village office is the heart of the community, and that if something happened on that day and someone came to the office and found it closed, or someone from out of town wanted to get in touch with the Village about something, it did not give the picture he would like to see.
Coun. Wendy Coomber proposed posting a contact number on the door in case of an emergency, and Dalsin said that would be done anyway. After further discussion the motion passed, with Pittman opposed and Talarico abstaining.
Coun. Lisa Dafoe recused herself from the next discussion, which was around a motion allowing her to be absent from the Feb. 10, Feb. 24, and March 9 council meetings to meet educational requirements. If she misses a fourth consecutive meeting she may be disqualified from holding office, unless council gives leave to be absent.
Pittman said the motion was a dilemma for her. She began reading a statement saying that while she was a great supporter of education and training, members of council were aware of the time commitments and personal sacrifices necessary. Talarico called a point of order, noting that she was reading a statement, and that “we don’t do statements anymore.”
Dalsin clarified that she could read it out, but added that the statement would not be included in the minutes.
When Pittman finished her statement, which concluded with the comment that she would not be supporting the motion, Peters said that Dafoe had more than proved her value to council.
“We know this is the end of her schooling and she will be more available. I think the value and experience she brings to council makes me want to support this motion.”
“She is a valuable member at this table,” said Coomber. “She has contributed for many years, and far more than just about all of us sitting here. More than some.”
The motion passed with Pittman opposed.
A motion that the Village, through TRUE Consulting, apply for approximately $176,000 in flood mitigation funding under the Emergency Management BC Disaster Mitigation Program was passed unanimously. It is the second time the application for flood mitigation funding has been made; the first was rejected, and Dalsin explained that this application contained more information.
Talarico said that he had looked into getting a unique cancellation stamp made for the Cache Creek post office, and that there would be no charge for the creation of the stamp, which will feature the Cache Creek Graffiti Days symbol and be used on all outgoing mail from the Cache Creek post office. The design will be submitted to the local post office manager.
Coomber asked if a resolution for the Southern Interior Local Government conference and AGM in Vernon in April, asking for provincial funds to help communities implement changes to the Emergency Program Act, had been drafted. Dalsin said that as the deadline for resolutions was Feb. 28, staff were waiting to see if any other resolutions were forthcoming from council before proceeding.
Pittman asked if additional signage could be placed on existing signs along Quartz and Stage Roads to alert drivers to the presence of children going to and from school so that vehicles would slow down.
Dalsin said he felt that it would be a low-cost item, and asked if staff could proceed with the signs without bringing the matter back to council if that was the case. This was agreed to and the motion passed.
The meeting moved into closed session at 5:30 p.m.
On Jan. 31 a Budget Committee meeting was held to discuss possible amendments to the policy regarding council attendance at conferences. Coun. Peters (chair) and Coun. Coomber discussed their research into similar policies in seven other B.C . communities, and put forward several recommendations, including setting annual amounts for the mayor and councillors to spend on training and conferences; not allowing meals included in conference fees to be claimed as an expense; that carpooling and other cost-saving measures be encouraged; and that reports be mandatory on all conference workshops and extra meetings attended. These recommendations will be brought forward at an upcoming council meeting.
The next meeting of Cache Creek council is on Monday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. Agendas and minutes can be found on the Village’s website at http://www.village.cachecreek.bc.ca/.