Does ferry marshalling trump everything?
On April 14th, mayor Jack Adelaar and council invited the public to a town hall meeting, held at Cates Hill Chapel. The three major topics on the agenda for discussion were: the preliminary 2012 budget, desired outcomes pertaining to the strategic plan and the decision making process to ferry marshaling. A full house was in attendance as the public prepared to weigh-in on some eagerly anticipated topics.
The meeting started off with a preliminary budget presentation by mayor Jack Adelaar and CFO Karen Blow. “We have to deal with core services which we are currently reviewing, this is a really big issue. As a municipality, we somehow have to move back to being concerned with water, sewer and roads” said mayor Adelaar. Minimization of cost and expenses by increasing taxes and increasing revenues are two key factors the mayor brought forth, “ we have to find new ways for our municipality to raise money - I like to call it innovative revenues.”
The proposed budget revealed suggested figures and key points, such as 2.9 per cent tax increase, a breakdown of exactly where our tax dollars are spent regarding general municipal operations and how much goes towards other taxing authorities such as Metro Vancouver, the Island Trust, TransLink, policing and schools. Other financial highlights included $370,000 dedicated to a Satellite Emergency Operations Facility, $290,000 for a fire tanker, $145,000 for the Tunstall Bay Boat launch, $65,000 for parks which includes beaches, trails and parks, and $760,000 for the new community centre. “We are not building a community centre for $760,000 but we will continue working on planning with this money budgeted for 2012”, stated Blow.
Described as a “frugal budget” these preliminary financial plans will be passed shortly. For a full review of the proposed budget go to http://www.bimbc.ca/department_finance under the heading 2012 Five Year Financial Plan.
Led by Councilor Tim Rhodes the meeting progressed into the strategic planning portion of the presentation which focused on council’s accomplishments within the first 100 days and subsequent desired outcomes moving forward. In both cases, the list was long. Some accomplishments included approval of the third reading for the Belterra development, support of a water taxi service from Bowen Island to downtown Vancouver (the water taxi does not seem to be viable without some kind of subsidy), approval of an initial concept by the Bowen Community Centre Action Committee ( The Community Centre newsletters can be located at http://www.bimbc.ca/current_topics.php?nnid=756#756), and the switch to weekday, daytime council meetings using social media and streaming video to communicate with the public.
The wish list of desired outcomes for 2012-2017 proved to be lengthly, spanning from community securities, effective operations to community land issues; due to time restraints, Rhodes flipped through this section of the power point quickly. Illegible tables were presented with apologies but all this can be found on the municipal website for closer inspection. In the end, Rhodes stated, “Yes, we wanted to do all these things, but the reality is that these outcomes exceed municipal resources”. So what can we actually achieve? The strategic plan lists the human element (affordable housing), the fiscal element (sustainable delivery of services) and the physical element (revitalized Snug Cove and ferry marshalling) as main points for building a viable community.
Ferry marshalling, last on the agenda, was the most anticipated topic brought forth for discussion. According to council, in order to proceed with the strategic plan, a decision on ferry marshalling has to be made, “Council realized ferry marshalling had to be the initial determination.We have to make a decision on ferry marshalling and make it quickly in order to move everything forward. So we are hoping to have that done by June 30. To do that, we need to move into some sort of short public process to ensure the decision on ferry marshalling is going to have a broad acceptance in our community. Once we have ferry marshalling, that is more or less going to dictate what happens in terms of the Snug Cove development .” stated Rhodes. After grant opportunities are pursued, a request for proposals will go out to the private development community, “because quite frankly we don’t have the money to do any of this and if we can interest the private sector in providing a proposal which would include developing community lands, helping with ferry marshalling, perhaps even helping build the community centre and the associated sewer and water expansion, we could move along more quickly,” said Rhodes.
The challenge faced by council is how to determine public values while gaining a broad acceptance in order to select a ferry marshalling concept that satisfies our community. This concluded the councils part of the meeting and the passionate public question and answer session commenced; feedback weighed in heavily and emotions were high. In the end, time ran out and the meeting ended.
Some quotes from the question and answer session:
Doug Hooper: “Crippen Park is a park first and last. The Islands Trust ‘preserve and protect’ mandate, the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks mandate and the Bowen public opinion do not support ferry marshalling in Crippen Park. Go back to basics, honour the public input that has already determined that the main road corridor should be used more wisely to revitalize our existing village.”
Bob Turner: “You have in front of you a process that is over a two-year period to utilize important information on Snug Cove - a series of reports that engaged the public. This was a process lead by James Tuer, commissioned by the community and paid for by tax money.”
Mayor Jack Adelaar: “One of the concerns I have with all the plans is that there is a limiting factor and that is we have to use Government Road - I’m talking about the latest group of plans and that makes a freeway out of the ferry loading once an hour.”
Wynn Nielsen: “You see the potential in Crippen Park for something other then a park, talk to the islanders about how they feel about the parks, then talk to Metro Vancouver.”