City to seek grant for curbside organics collection
By Nowell Berg
On January 25, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Jason McBain, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick.
Councillors attended the meeting in-person, however, the press and public were not allowed in Council Chambers.
The meeting streamed live on the city’s YouTube channel. Watch the archive here.
City council, excluding Mayor McCormick, supported city staff’s initiative to begin the process of securing sufficient grant money that will be used to implement a curbside organics collection program.
According to the report presented to council, the city will undertake funding requests to CleanBC’s Organics Infrastructure and Collection Program (OICP) requesting $198,400 to fund two-thirds of the cost of the 120-litre organics collection carts and kitchen catchers.
Additionally, the city will seek funding from the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) for the remaining one-third of the cost, or $99,200. The city will also request funding from the RDEK “to fund the purchase of a new automated organics collection truck.” The truck cost is estimated at $350,000.
While all council support the idea of curbside organics collection, several concerns were raised, especially around cost and implementation.
Coun. Goodwin said, “I was pretty cool with this when it came up two weeks ago, but I’ve warmed up a little bit. It seems like a great opportunity that we may well regret not seizing down the road. But there are going to be some challenges with implementation.”
“I’m struggling back and forth with this. I love the intent, but not having the ability to opt out is a problem,” commented Coun. McBain.
“This is a phenomenal opportunity for the city,” said Coun. Oakley. “I am going to support this. We should be pushing all the political buttons we have to push to make sure we’re successful in getting all the funding for this and get this thing going.”
Coun. Dalum added, “I absolutely agree with everything that’s been said, and for $3 a household per month it seems like a fantastic opportunity.”
Mayor McCormick outlined his concern over the $3 fee, which he claimed, “is a guess.” He noted residents are still getting used to the curbside re-cycling program. Adding another cart to the process could pose problems. “Let’s get recycling down first,” he said.
In responding to council concerns, Nik Morissette, Manager of Roads, said if the city receives the requested funding, then it would have until “March 2024 to spend it,” with a possible summer 2023 roll out. He concluded the OICP grant “may not be available in future.”
All council supported city staff’s move to submit grant funding applications. Mayor McCormick voted no.
Troy Pollock, Manger Planning Services, said of transit ridership, there was a “reduction across the board.” The commuter route decreased 34% “due to Covid impacts.” The Health Connections route saw a drop of 31%.
Last year (2020) started off on a good note, with ridership “higher than ever” in January and February said Pollock. Then the shutdown in March and April followed by a return to restricted service in May which saw a “rebound in ridership.
“The good news, once service was back up and running, we did see a steady increase in ridership month to month. We’re hopeful that trend will continue and see ridership return” to pre-Covid levels said Pollock.
He also added: “Kudo’s to drivers and all the staff at Kimberley Transit for all the extra hard work they put in to keep everybody safe and keep the service running. They’re doing a great job.”
2020 Financial Update
Chief financial officer Jim Hendricks presented council with a quick financial update up to the end of 2020.
According to Hendricks, “There are not a lot of surprises.” He noted that any significant variation in budget numbers “are directly attributable to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on city operations.”
The largest budget shortfall in revenues and expenses occurred in Parks and Recreation due to the closure of the Aquatic Centre and other city facilities.
The city’s over-all revenues were bolstered by a provincial government Re-start Grant, just over $2 million, “to make up for lost revenues,” said Hendricks.
Despite the revenue and expense impacts of COVID-19, the city remains in good financial health.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m. Due to pandemic restrictions, the public is not allowed to attend Council Chambers.
The next scheduled Council meeting: February 8. It will be live streamed on the City of Kimberley YouTube channel.