Morrison Sub flood mitigation; SD6 joint use and gophers
By Nowell Berg
On May 8, City of Kimberley council held its bi-monthly meeting.
Councilors Kent Goodwin, Albert Hoglund, Nigel Kitto, Bev Middlebrook and Darryl Oakley were present along with Mayor Don McCormick.
Mayor McCormick introduced the new Corporate Officer, Maryse Leroux, who took over the job from departing Dawn Attorp.
Morrison Sub residents pack council chambers
Tony Klassen, who owns a home in the Morrison Subdivision, made an elegant and impassioned presentation on the need for flood mitigation along Kimberley Creek, in front of council and a dozen residents.
The flood of 2012 (pictured) brought friends and neighbours together to help save as many homes as possible from water damage. After that event, Klassen had hoped the city would undertake an infrastructure restoration of Kimberley Creek similar to the one done on Mark Creek.
Klassen pointed out “erosion of banks” caused by the 2012 flood need to be fixed. He also suggested drainage culvert re-alignment, repair and clean out would help in flood mitigation.
He ended his presentation asking council to “lobby to stop logging upstream” that contributes to flooding and follow the recommendations in the city’s hydrology report, all of which would help to “stop losing value in our homes and property.”
Residents in the gallery gave Klassen an ovation for his presentation.
Coun. Oakley thanked Klassen for his presentation, saying there are “a lot of initiatives still to do” to help Morrison Sub.
Mayor McCormick said he appreciated Klassen for being “a community spokesperson.” The mayor also said the city is working to secure grants for flood mitigation similar to those Fernie and Elkford received.
He added that because property along Kimberley Creek is privately owned, it was “hard to deal with the community” as the city had no jurisdiction to restore the Creek.
Coun. Hoglund pointed out that “Louis Creek was running higher every year due to climate change.” He stated it was important that any flood mitigation look at Kimberley and Louis Creek’s together.
“The city can do somethings as long as property owners agree 100%,” the mayor concluded.
Terminating Joint Use Agreement Between the city and SD6 6 fires up council
A major disagreement among council and the mayor arose when, for a second time, city administration asked council to “terminate” the Joint Use Agreement (JUA) between School District No 6 (SD6) and the city.
During the February 27 meeting, council deferred a decision on the matter.
Sparks flew as Councilors Middlebrook, Oakley and Roberts supported terminating the agreement while Councilors Goodwin, Hoglund and Kitto were opposed.
Roberts said the JUA was “obsolete” and never used by the city or SD6. As such she supported terminating it.
The Mayor spoke in favour of terminating the agreement pointing out there never was any “joint use between the organizations” even though the agreement exists. SD6 was also in favour of termination.
Hoglund said he would vote against the motion to terminate. Instead he suggested re-negotiate the agreement.
Kitto also voted against termination, saying there was a “special relationship between SD6 and the city” therefore the agreement should be “renegotiated to recognize that relationship.”
The mayor said there was “nothing to renegotiate.” Adding the JUA was never really implement and used by the city.
Councilors Oakley and Middlebrook said it was time to cancel the agreement as it was never used.
Hoglund argued that city staff had seen an “opportunity to cancel and add dollars to the city” by charging SD6 for use of city facilities. He felt strongly that council should have been part of the meetings between the city and SD6 administration.
Goodwin supported that idea, saying, “city councilors and SD6 Trustees and staff need to work something out. We need to talk to trustees about the impact of any termination,” he added.
When asked, CAO Scott Sommerville said the issue was “not financial” but one where the city would “not supervise community groups who use SD6 schools.” He added that SD6 administration supported city administrations request to terminate the JUA.
The vote resulted in a tie, three in favour of termination (Middlebrook, Oakley and Roberts) and three opposed (Goodwin, Hoglund and Kitto), which meant the mayor held the deciding vote.
After pondering his decision for a few moments, Mayor McCormick changed his previous support to terminate the JUA and voted to oppose the termination motion.
Following the meeting, Mayor McCormick clarified his position, saying, “I originally voted for termination as the agreement is outdated and not really relevant for all but the fees; the cancellation would not negatively affect the school district or the City of Kimberley and the fees would be dealt with in a different agreement. Staff are working hard to bring all of our bylaws, policies and other agreements up to 2017 standards and this was one of dozens of outdated documents to be dealt with. However, the outright cancellation of the agreement appears to be a sensitive topic with many. Keeping the agreement is not going to negatively impact either interest, so I supported keeping the agreement and charging fees as per that agreement. The fees are simply our cost of operating the facilities while in use.”
Poisoning gophers by city raises big stink
Two citizens from the gallery rose to chastise council and the city for a sloppy job of trying to control the gopher infestation at Purcell Park in Marysville.
One person, Sue, said she was very upset that dead gophers were lying around for children to see. She even reported that one child “picked up a dead gopher.” Sue also saw a dead bird she expected had eaten the poison.
Mayor McCormick said the city used a licensed third party exterminator who does this type of work at schools around Kimberley and the East Kootenay.
“Rodent control goes on every year and is needed to protect the playing fields at the park,” he said.
A second person, Kim, an animal rescue worker, also criticized the city’s handling of gopher control. Kim said poison was supposed to be put deep into gopher holes, but she found “handfuls” of poison all around many holes that children could have access to.
CAO Sommerville explained, “Trapping did not work and that several times staff had to finish the job.” He also reiterated the mayor’s point that the contract exterminator had been used by schools and golf courses around the East Kootenay. He said signs had been posted in the park to warn users.
Sue responded there were “only two small ones (signs) on the washroom.” She said signage was completely inadequate.
Under fire from the two residents, Mayor McCormick said, “There was no expectation the plan would go sideways. We are looking into what went wrong.”
Kim noted she found a fresh badger hole and warned that it could eat a poisoned gopher and die. She stated badgers are an endangered species, which could make the city responsible if one were to die because of the city’s actions. She said, “I will gladly work with the city to help with rodent control.”
The Mayor thanked Sue and Kim for their comments and concerns saying, “The contractor will be held accountable and we will work to resolve the issue.”
Kimberley City Council meets twice monthly. All meetings start at 7 p.m. and are open to the public. Check the city’s website here for the meeting agenda. Click on the 2017 folder and follow the link.
The next council meeting is Tuesday, May 23.
It’s your city; get involved.