Muni Morsels: municipality dissolves one of its 27(ish) committees

The following are updates from the Nov. 12 regular council meeting.

Parking the emergency:  While the development variance permit for fewer required parking spots in the 27-unit affordable housing project on Area 1 of Lot 2 (the parking lot across from the museum) passed with little ado, a subsequent motion to investigate alternative parking in the cove was a sticking point for councillors. 

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Councillor Maureen Nicholson drew up the recommendation in light of the loss of the museum-facing parking lot and the potential for development on other Cove parking lots (such as the one beside the RCMP station and the one behind the Village Baker). Councillors Rob Wynen and Sue Ellen Fast were against the motion. Wynen said he had a problem with the piecemeal approach to solving the parking problem, Fast was concerned with the “if you build it, they will come” effect and the potential for people to get used to extra parking. Fast noted that Bowen needed to be making choices in alignment with the climate emergency council had declared in the previous meeting.          Continued on page 3

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Fast’s comment was the only significant mention of the climate emergency during the meeting. 

One committee down: at the suggestion of emergency program coordinator Jennifer McGowan, council agreed to disband the Emergency Program Management Committee. The committee of BIM staff and local leaders was formed in the wake of BIM creating its emergency program in 2016 and was a subset of the Emergency Program Executive Committee, which remains intact. 

“Staff and stakeholders remain eager to meet, train, and practice skills in multi-agency exercises, and will continue to build and foster working relationships to prepare Bowen Island to respond to and quickly recover from emergencies, but feel they can more easily do so outside of a formal municipal committee structure,” said McGowan’s report to council. “The Emergency Program Executive Committee will remain able to strike working groups as necessary to take on specific projects despite any collapse of the Emergency Program Management Committee.”

McGowan also said in her report that dissolving this committee will help reduce Bowen’s above average number of committees (which, according to the BIM site, now stand at 26). 

“Members of the committee welcome the change, which is also expected to save staff time and reduce costs for the Municipality,” wrote McGowan.  The resolution passed unanimously. 

Colouring inside the lines: Over the next 13 months, BIM will review the Snug Cove Design Guidelines to reinforce the “arts and crafts” theme of the Cove. The process is to involve an invitation-only workshop, a public open house, and updating the guidelines document. 

Early budget days: The draft one, version two of the 2020 Islands Trust budget is online at islandstrust.bc.ca/media/348483/fpc_2019-11-12_agd_pkg_final.pdf. The budget has Bowen’s requisition rising 3.8 per cent (by $12,532) up to $34,2166. Councillor Fast, who is on the Trust’s executive committee, says that Trust staff are looking at how to reduce Bowen’s contribution further. 

Recent news releases from BIM

Firefighters: the mediation task force addressing the conflict between the volunteer firefighters and BIM moved the completion date for phase two of the arbitration process to Nov. 25. A letter from the task force dated Nov. 2 said that the initial timeline with a completion date of Nov. 4 was pushed back “given the concerns raised by the volunteer firefighters and their desire to have legal representation” and as two task members had pre-scheduled vacations this month. The letter said that the interview process with the firefighters moved forward last week.

Not going to lead us down: given the Canada-wide investigation that found high levels of lead in drinking water in many cities that was published Nov. 4, BIM said Nov. 7 that over coming weeks it would be doing spot testing in municipal water systems. 

The news release said that when BIM incorporated in 1999, it inherited the water systems and the provided infrastructure records were incomplete. “Therefore the municipality does not have a clear inventory of piping used for individual service connections, where the lead concern typically occurs.

“We are confident that the public water systems––the portion of the system Bowen Island Municipality is responsible for––are not a lead leaching risk, however as an added precaution will be spot testing in the coming weeks to be sure.” 

Bowen’s source water is regularly tested and has lead levels below drinking water guidelines said the release. 

“Bowen Island is currently working with VCH to further evaluate the potential risks in Bowen Island’s water systems and to provide its residents with resource material and guidance on how to address any concerns they may have,” it said. 

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