After debate, council agrees to hire communications manager
By Nowell Berg
City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting nn March 25.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Nigel Kitto, Jason McBain, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick. Coun. Kent Goodwin was absent.
Trust funds solar panels at Aquatic Centre
Brett Clark, Manager Parks and Facilities, informed council the city received a grant from Columbia Basin Trust in the amount of $43,200 for the installation of a solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the Aquatic Centre.
After an energy audit and a solar feasibility study it was determined the Aquatic Centre was an ideal candidate for a solar retrofit that would provide “significant cost savings” for the Aquatic Centre.
“It’s a great opportunity because there’s already footings on top of the Aquatic Centre,” Clark said. He added, “Its a viable place to produce solar electricity and reduce operating costs.”
The city is responsible for 25% of the total project cost, which is $57,600. The city’s share, $14,400, comes from the Carbon Tax Project Reserve.
Clark said yearly savings would be approximately $2,788. Solar panels will “reduce the buildings energy footprint and green house gas emissions.”
Council unanimously voted in favour of moving forward with the project.
Council discusses hiring a Manager of Community Development and Communications
Managers are dealing with more projects as well as taking on community issues like non-profit requests for grant writing assistance.
Sommerville said the community development component would be about 60% of the job, the rest communications.
Coun. Oakley vehemently opposed creating this position.
“As far as I am concerned this position should not be happening now,” he said. “I’m absolutely, adamantly against the spin doctor. I find that having a communications person in here is absolutely the wrong fit,” said Oakley. He added, “I am not interested in following whatever’s coming from the communication person. I am not going to do that.”
He concluded by saying he would always be open to speaking with residents anytime anywhere on any topic.
Coun. McBain indicated he “appreciated” Cou. Oakley’s comments. However, he pointed to the need for “consistency in messaging” from the city. Having the city “craft a message” would not mean a councillor could not have their own opinion.
Coun. Dalum supported the new position, saying, “This person will be picking up the communications that’s already happening.” He didn’t see the job as “crafting” or “spinning a story for anyone.” He noted the job would entail taking communication tasks off the desks of other managers.
“My position is coming from the position of the taxpayer,” Coun. Roberts said. “I don’t feel we do the best job of communicating with the taxpayer.” She supported the new position, as it would keep taxpayers directly affected by city activities better informed.
Coun. Kitto also supported the position. With staff and managers “doing extra jobs” outside of their core responsibilities it was time to “give a new manager a try.”
He pointed out the job was a term position and can be evaluated over time to “see how it works.”
Mayor McCormick said council may be “selling the job short.” He noted that past city projects created “difficulty” because there was a “lack of communication.” A key part of the communication side of the job would be making sure residents were informed well in advance about projects that directly impact them.
Coun. Oakley spoke up one last time, saying, “This is a rip-off for the taxpayers of Kimberley.”
Councillors Dalum, Kitto, McBain, Roberts and Mayor McCormick voted in favour of hiring a Manager of Community Development and Communications. Coun. Oakley voted no.
Council also voted in favour of moving forward to establish an agreement with Columbia Basin Trust and become the legal entity for KYAN, which would fall under the auspices of the new Manager of Community Development and Communications.
Winter Games Legacy Grants KDCF funding recommendations
Responsible for over-seeing legacy funds from the BC Winter Games, the KDCF asks local amateur sport organizations to submit funding proposals in support of their activities.
With $6,851.90 at its disposal, the KDCF awarded grant money to five amateur sports organizations:
Kimberley Seahorse Swim Club $1,600.00;
Kimberley Nordic Racers $1,625.45;
Kimberley Gymnastics Society $1,626.45;
Kimberley Freewheelers Cycling Club $1,000.00;
Kimberley Speed Skating Club $1,000.00;
The city handles dispersing the funds.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m., open to the public.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting: April 8.