Council approves OCP change for PIE
By Nowell Berg
On November 25, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick. Councillors Kyle Dalum and Jason McBain participated via conference call.
Council supports Purcell International Education OCP zoning change
A public hearing held in Council Chambers was packed with residents who raised concerns about the proposed zoning change to the OCP (Official Community Plan) being requested by Purcell International Education (PIE).
Tom Ristimaki, who works for PIE, was the first to speak. He explained the motivation behind the project as, “Two local guys doing our best to do something extraordinary for our town.”
PIE wants to build “a world-class international boarding school” that focuses on “high-level athletic academies.”
The school will employ B.C.-certified teachers working with an “enhanced curriculum” for grades 7 to 12. PIE will not compete with the public school system. The project will generate new employment opportunities and “a significant amount [of economic spin-offs] that will ripple through the community,” Ristimaki said.
“This is not just a development project. We care about the kids. We care about the environment, and we care about the community that we live in. We care about the quality of life for our students, our staff and our neighbours. If we can’t do it with integrity and in a way that benefits our community, then we aren’t going to do it.”
Despite the significant “grass roots support for the project,” Ristimaki acknowledges concerns have been raised by residents. PIE is planning a community info night, Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. The location is set for McKim Middle School.
Dave Berg, who lives close to the proposed development, spoke about concerns around the steep bank behind his home and whether it will “hold” with development up above. He also worries about drainage and increased traffic along with access to and from the Highway 95A intersection. A concern expressed by others.
The main issue for Emma Taylor was a “lack of information” about the project. She also noted the proponents have no development experience and was concerned over PIE paying for the Mayor to go to China.
Speaking in support of the project, Ron Christensen, President of Kimberley Golf Club, said the membership voted 101 to three in favour of selling land to PIE.
“It is going to save our golf course and enhance it. The new holes we desperately need,” he said. They will have views of St. Mary River and will “rejuvenate us.”
As for the traffic and intersection concerns, Christensen said, “Before this is said and done, the department of highways will have something designed so that it’s safe for all users.”
The club has been working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for the past few years to improve the intersection and entrance to the golf course.
Later in the meeting, council discussed the OCP amendment.
First off the mark, Coun. Oakley indicated he would be voting against the amendment. “I think it’s an amazing project; [however] taxpayers are paying for staff to work on this when funding is not clearly in place.”
Despite having concerns with the project, Coun. Goodwin said he would vote in favour because PIE needs to have “some level of support” from the city in order to get funding. Goodwin’s main concern deals with the tax exempt statue the school would receive under provincial legislation. That would have to be addressed before he would continue to support the project.
Mayor McCormick reiterated an oft mentioned comment that changes to the OCP are not the last and only time residents and council will have to provide input into the project. He concluded saying the city would not move forward unless the project was beneficial for the city, the community and PIE.
Council adopted the OCP Bylaw change in a five to one vote. Coun. Oakley was opposed.
Bulk water rates jump 10%
Chief financial officer (CFO) Jim Hendricks presented an amendment to the Waterworks Rates and Regulations Bylaw. Hendricks told council the bylaw change accomplishes two things. First, “Increase the bulk water rate by 10% from $1.56 to $1.72 per 1,000 gallons, effective January 1, 2020,” he said.
The strategy behind the increase is to “re-capture” the real cost of providing bulk water to users. An engineering report showed the city was not collecting near enough money to balance what it cost to provide the water.
Coun. Oakley asked where the “break even point” is for bulk rates? Hendricks answered, “We would have to do the incremental increase of 10% each year, it would be another eight years before we were at the break-even rate.” Oakley went on to point out that until the break-even point is reached, “the taxpayers of Kimberley are subsidizing this.”
The second change creates a new category for secondary suites that would pay a water rate 50% of the single family residential rate, which is $119.28 per quarter. With the new bylaw, secondary suites will pay $59.64 per quarter.
Hendricks pointed out, the “rationale behind that is to support construction of legal secondary suites in the community as a way of dealing with our rental housing issues.”
The mayor said the secondary suites category would also help home-based businesses that were getting double hit on the water rate, “when they don’t use any more water.”
Sewer rates up eight per cent in 2020
In anticipation of constructing a new wastewater treatment plant in 2023, CFO Hendricks presented an amendment to the Sewer Rates Bylaw.
He said, “If adopted, it will result in sewer user fee increases of eight per cent commencing January 1, 2020.”
According to Hendricks, the increase is needed “to make sure we have sufficient funding to make the debt payments” on the city’s portion of the cost to construct the new treatment plant. Hendricks anticipates the city portion to be $7.9 million.
The bylaw also creates a secondary suites category similar to the water bylaw. The rate would also be the same, 50% of the residential rate.
Coun. Roberts noted, “We have chosen not to raise the cost of water” to offset some of the increase in the sewer rate.
Hendricks added the water and sewer systems were “self-funded utilities,” which means money raise from the sewer fee is applied only to the sewer utility. The same for the water utility.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m., open to the public.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be: December 9 at City Hall.
Above images: City of Kimberley document maps of Bylaw No. 2646 covering the Kimberley Golf Course/PIE OCP rezoning.