Five structure fires stand out in report
By Nowell Berg
On February 11, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Jason McBain and Darryl Oakley were present along with Mayor Don McCormick. Councillor Sandra Roberts was absent.
Five structures fires stand out in report
Fire Chief Rick Prasad presented and spoke to council about the department’s 2018 year-end report.
In summarizing the past years activities, Chief Prasad said, “Over-all, an average year as far as responses go.”
The one thing that stood out was the five structure fires at private residents. “More than we’ve had in a long time,” said Prasad. Only one home fire occurred in 2017. No business or commercial property fires occurred last year.
The Fire Department responded to 196 calls for service compared to 220 in 2017, a decline of 10.9%. In terms of increases and decreases in specific categories, “nothing stands out as alarming,” said Prasad.
The largest year over year increase came from carbon monoxide detector alarms. Last year saw an 80% increase and the almost doubling of alarms to 18 from 10 the year before.
The most calls for service of any category came from ‘automatic alarms’, up three to 43 total calls. These alarms came from a wide range of businesses and are not “repeat offenders.”
In terms of commercial property inspections, the department undertook 316, “that’s a big number for us,” said Prasad. “We’ve got everybody trained up, it took about a year and a half to get everybody ready to do inspections. Everybody’s doing a great job.”
Coun. Oakley asked the Chief about the status of the fire guard around the city. Prasad indicated the Department is in the “last stages” of a grant application seeking funds to build it. He hopes to know more by the end of February.
eLeash or physical tether debated
Council received the Animal Control and Bylaw Enforcement reports for January.
Dog control continues to be a recurring concern for bylaw enforcement and increasingly for council.
Coun. Dalum raised the need to have a discussion around updating the animal control bylaw to include electronic leashes, or e-leashes, which it currently does not. He said, “I’d be interested in the possibility of looking into the electronic collars as being viable under our bylaw.”
Dalum elaborated by adding the electronic collars “either have a tone or vibration or an electrical stimulant and when properly used they are not meant for pain.”
Coun. Oakley responded, “I would be against that in this community. Both my dogs are trained on e-collar. It took four months. The amount of time I put into training and $600 cost, I just think your average person is not going to go to that effort.’ He would support the city adding e-leash to the bylaw only if, “you’re going to have a really strict process to monitor people to be sure they are not abusing the animals.” Oakley added the collar he uses range from one to six in electrical intensity and “if you set it at three and put it in your hand you’re going to go through the roof.” Oakley’s concern is that if the dog and owner are not sufficiently trained to use the e-collar/leash and the owner keeps pressing the button trying to control the dog which doesn’t understand what it means, then “it’s total abuse.”
Summing up, Oakley suggested, “90% of people will not be able to train their dogs properly.”
Seeking clarification, Coun. McBain asked Dalum, “All you’re asking is to allow it [e-leash] and not saying people have to go that route.”
Dalum responded, “Just looking at the possibility…of people being able to do it. Some people are successfully using them, but our leash law says it has to be a physical leash.” He added, “I understand that Coun. Oakley’s point is very valid.”
Coun. Goodwin sided with Oakley on the need for proper training in how to use an e-leash. He went on to say that if it’s a physical leash, then the enforcement is straight-forward. However, allowing e-leashes “opens up” a whole series of issues around enforcement.
The mayor asked Corporate Officer Maryse Leroux about an animal bylaw change. She responded saying that of all the bylaws that need updating, the Animal Control Bylaw is low on the priority list.
Chief Administrative Officer Scott Sommerville pointed out the bylaw officer has “discretion” when it comes to applying the leash regulation. He agreed with Oakley and Goodwin that “there is a very small percentage of people that know how to deploy the device in an effective manner.”
Kimberley Youth Action Network
With a packed gallery behind them, Lori Joe, Youth Coordinator at Kimberley Youth Action Network (KYAN), along with Mike Kent, Regional Coordinator, Basin Youth Network (BYN) made a presentation to council.
As part of the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) Youth Network, the KYAN is “committed to connecting, inspiring and engaging local youth [12 to 18 years old] through active participation,” said Joe.
As part of their pitch, Joe and Kent asked the city to become the new legal entity for KYAN. A letter to the city, sent by Joe, states, “The KYAN requires a legal entity to be accountable for the funding from the Trust [Columbia Basin] for the next three‐year funding commitment.”
For the past three years, Summit Community Services has been the legal entity and administrator the KYAN, however, they are stepping away to focus on their core activities with younger children and daycare primarily in Cranbrook.
Kent indicated the BYN is prepared to fund the KYAN for another three years, however, they require a legal entity and over-sight committee, roles he hopes the city will undertake. “This is something the Trust is supporting on-going. I think its something that will be supported in the future,” added Kent.
Joe added that 14 of the 28 youth networks are “run through a municipality.”
She noted the priorities of the KYAN are set by the youth who actively participate in the network monitored by an adult Over-sight Committee. The range of activities provided by the Network to Kimberley youth include a leadership certificate program, mentorship, partnerships, training sessions, camps and social activities like open mic/coffee house, theme movie nights, art gala, job readiness training along with Inspire Me Initiative projects.
Councillors commented on the positive impacts of the KYAN and the participation of local youth, most from Selkirk Secondary School. Many were in the Gallery showing their support.
Coun. Kitto asked, “What’s to stop you from becoming your own legal entity?”
Joe said that local non-profit societies already have a focus and core activities that may not align with the KYAN. Kent added that the cost and work of creating a whole new entity from scratch and administrating it would be far greater than the “small incremental” cost to the city for taking on the role.
Coun. Goodwin then added, “You’re doing good work and I‘m pretty hopeful we can support you.” He suggested council refer the matter back to staff for review on legal contracts, funding and staffing issues “to make sure they can see a way to make this work.”
The mayor asked about the contract responsibilities the city would face. Kent replied the city would review a work plan and budget, assure monies were spent as laid out in the work plan and that spending matches the reporting. He noted the city has the flexibility to structure the management of KYAN in any way so as to make it work for city administration.
When asked about timing by the mayor, Kent would prefer having an agreement in place by March 31; however, the “drop dead date is June 30.”
Council referred the KYAN proposal to staff which will review it, outline options and report back on its feasibility at the next meeting.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m. It’s open to the public.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is February 25.
Lead image: One of the five structures fires in the city last year was the Kimberley Transfer Station blaze July 13, 2018. Photo courtesy RDEK