Our cast of local politicians gathered for the first regular council meeting of 2019 on January 14.
The following are brief reports of just some of the decisions made Monday night.
But no mention of the zipper merge:
Bowen’s daily battleground is getting a few extra rules of engagement.
Council passed first reading of a ferry lineup-regulating bylaw (it appeared before council in November but was sent back to staff for revisions.)
The proposed rules include that: “All vehicles in the ferry line-up must pull up within 0.6 metres (24 inches) of the next vehicle ahead in the ferry line-up or at the start of a hatched area and only enter the ferry line-up for the purpose of waiting to board the next available sailing.
“All ferry traffic should normally enter the ferry line-up behind the last vehicle in the ferry line.
“No overnight parking in the ferry lane,” and, “no stopping in the ferry lane other than waiting for the next available ferry.”
The longest-standing member of council isn’t too hopeful that the bylaw will solve the cove chaos.
“You can’t…legislate good behaviour,” said councillor Alison Morse, who abstained from the vote. “Often there’s a lot of reasons why people might park up at the top there [up the hill from the last car in line], such as to go in for a blood test so they don’t miss the ferry.
“I just don’t think this is going to accomplish anything except spend money.”
But others are enthusiastic.
“I have a high regard for the educational value of this bylaw,” said councillor Sue Ellen Fast, “so that we have all the same set of rules in our head.”
“We’ve just got to get it out there, tabled, and just see where it goes,” said Mayor Gary Ander.
“I think it’s going to take a little while to get it refined to a point where it actually works,” he said. “But it is chaos down there and we’ve got to get some semblance of order going on.”
The bylaw now passes to a public open house.
No disturbers allowed:
In 2017, the municipality expanded the Snug Cove sewer along Miller Road, ending at the Snug Cove House development. The total cost, including a pump station, force main and sanitary sewer, was $951,300.
As part of the deal, Snug Cove House paid $400,000 and the municipality received a $123,000 grant. The municipality is now trying to recoup the $428,300 difference.
Council passed first, second and third readings of a bylaw that lays out the connection fees for the buildings along the new sewage route. These include Bowen Court, Seniors Lane, and the proposed medical centre, fire hall and Bowen Island Resilient Community Housing (BIRCH) developments on lot 3 of the Community Lands. The cost distribution is based on expected flow from each building. The rates are based on if all the buildings in that area connected to the system, though none of them are obliged to do so.
Manager of public works Bob Robinson said that there’s flexibility built into the policy so that fees may go with the flow.
After the resolution passed unanimously, Robinson commented, “There’ll be a lot more people smiling on the Senior Road now.”
Dusting off the snow policy:
Council adopted a winter road maintenance policy for Bowen Island. It formalizes what the public works team does when the ice forms and the snow flies.
Robinson says that in the event of snow, his team of three (though the policy also references on-call snow plow operators) is usually out before it starts, salting and sanding, and then plowing when there’s enough snow accumulated. They concentrate on the primary roads, the bus routes, while the snow is falling, just keeping the arterial roads clear. When the snow slows or stops, work moves to the secondary roads, and then the tertiary roads. Some of the tertiary roads may only be done in daylight as the roads are narrow, with cars parked on the streets and plow operators frequently have difficulty turning around. If the snow starts up again, the process restarts.
“Tertiary routes with large hills have salt boxes placed at the bottom of the hill to help residents,” reads the policy.
If there’s the need for salting and sanding for ice or frost (mainly done on primary and secondary routes) the trucks start at 4:30 a.m., covering the bus routes.
In the council meeting, the roads conversation turned to sidewalks, and council also asked for a pedestrian route maintenance policy.
“I find it interesting that it is considered a basic service to have all the roads plowed, but not the sidewalk, especially considering how little sidewalk space we have and how many people use it,” said councillor Rob Wynen.
Council wasn’t feeling sedimental:
A commercial blueberry farm could be in Bowen’s future. Yau Lee Chan Development Corp. applied to the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to be able to divert a stream in order to fill in two sedimentation ponds on its Grafton Road, Agricultural Land Reserve property. The application says that the company would like to reclaim the area in order to build a barn for a blueberry operation. According to the application, a former owner created the ponds in the mid-1980s while logging as a means of protecting downstream water quality.
According to the application, the ponds are 50 m and 30 m long respectively and seasonally drain into Harding Brook, which drains into Grafton Lake. An environmental report from Whitehead Environmental says that the ponds are not fish-bearing, though they could be habitat for red-legged frogs. The report says that if the project follows mitigation measures, the project “can be undertaken in a manner that will not have an adverse environmental impact on water quality or fish and aquatic habitat.”
The referral from the ministry came to council in November but members wanted a site visit. Monday, a resolution passed in the consent agenda (meaning council agreed that they didn’t need to vote on it) saying that the municipality has no objection to the diversion.