Norton Avenue; industrial lands; Tourism Kimberley
By Nowell Berg
On March 26, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kent Goodwin, Albert Hoglund, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick. Councillors Nigel Kitto and Bev Middlebrook were absent.
Norton Avenue reconstruction on the way
After considerable negative feedback from local Norton Avenue residents last year, council deferred a request from Chris Mummery, Senior Manager Operations, to proceed with Phase Two of Norton Ave. reconstruction.
Council instructed city staff to “develop a communication plan to inform the residents of Norton Avenue of the city’s plans with respect to the reconstruction of Norton Avenue.”
Mummery told council time was of the essence in order to have bid documents prepared and a contractor selected in order that the work would be completed this year.
Mayor McCormick indicated he was “uncomfortable” with council moving ahead with reconstruction until Norton Avenue residents had a chance to learn about the plans and provide feedback on the Phase Two plan.
“Quite rightly so, we got raked over the coals,” McCormick said of starting construction on Phase One last summer before speaking with residents and getting feedback. McCormick did not want to “fall into the same pattern” on Phase Two. He added, “It’s an excellent plan” and hoped Norton residents would support it.
View the 3D drawings of the project here, scroll to page 24.
Leading off discussion, Coun. Roberts asked Mummery if the city was “ahead of the game” on timelines.
Mummery replied, “Timelines are quite tight this year for getting to the bidding process and attracting contractors who are available for this season.”
Coun. Oakley said, “I really like to see residents have a good healthy dialogue with city staff.”
He also suggested residents may want to add sidewalks by paying additional property tax. “I like the design, no problem going forward with everything as it is. I just want to hear from residents that they are cool with this and [the city can] go for it.”
Chief administrative officer Scott Sommerville said Norton Ave. residents have had almost a year to take action on local area tax improvements that would replace sidewalks, but “there wasn’t a lot of up-take on it.”
He indicated staff will put together a communication plan as quickly as possible for a town hall meeting with Norton residents.
Coun. Hoglund agreed with the mayor’s assertion about getting residents input on the plan before approving the design.
Mayor McCormick empathized with Mummery about “tight timelines”, but suggested council was only two weeks away from approving the project at the next council meeting, given a chance for Norton Ave. residents to provide feedback and support the design and plan.
Mummery replied, “Planning is important to get this done before cold weather comes.”
Sommerville reminded council members that if they were inclined to make any changes to the design, they would have to make adjustments in up-coming budget deliberations to find the funds necessary to pay for any design alterations.
Last year, Norton Ave. residents were upset, irate and vocal about sidewalks being removed and not replaced. Council received many letters and complaints from Norton residents over the loss of sidewalks and the issue of pedestrian safety.
Industrial Lands Advisory Committee
As an outcome from the OCP controversy over the Benchlands zoning and a Feb. 28 council resolution to create an Industrial Lands Advisory Committee that would “investigate industrial lands options within the City of Kimberley, including lands owned by Teck,” Council was asked to formalize the committee by a vote.
At a meeting on March 19 Mayor McCormick along with Councillors Goodwin, Hoglund and Middlebrook “met with city staff to discuss the draft terms of reference for the committee and decide on the next steps for the establishment of the committee.”
The mandate of the committee will be to provide council with advice on achieving the city’s strategic goal of attracting new revenue particularly through industrial taxes.
Throughout the OCP process, opponents of the Benchlands zoning for industrial use kept pointing to the Teck lands as an ideal location. As the Mayor and Coun. Oakley continually indicated, the Teck lands are private, not under city control, and the contamination of the land from Sullivan Mine operations ruled out these lands being used as an industrial park, at least in the immediate and medium term future.
Maryse Leroux, Corporate Officer, presented council with three steps to formalizing the committee. One, appoint Councilors Goodwin, Hoglund and Middlebrook to the Committee. Two, finalize the terms of reference, and three, ask Teck and the Ministry of Environment (MoE) to participate on the Committee.
During discussion on these three items, Coun. Oakley raised several concerns about the committee.
First, he said the work of the committee was the Mayor’s job. He asked if the committee was “the best use of council and city staff time.” He pointed out the process of getting MoE certification, so the land could be used for industrial development, is an “unbelievable slow process. Do you just let this monster amble along on its own while we focus on more pressing issues.”
Oakley did not think there was anyway for the committee to push the Teck land process along faster than it was already going.
The Mayor reinforced Oakley’s point. “Its not a quick process here. This beast only moves so quickly. We are not the ones who are driving this, its Teck and MoE.” He added he is fine with having the Committee in place or continue his solo liaison with Teck and MoE.
Coun. Goodwin pointed out that if it’s a “really slow process” then it won’t take a lot of council’s or staff time. He added, “perhaps having more councilors involved may get it going a little faster.” He added an advantage of the formal committee, “It may help us get MoE to pay attention and take us more seriously.”
Coun. Hogland indicated the lands the committee would be looking at had “no buildings on it” and were not contaminated.
“I was led to believe that process may be quicker going through the environment than if you were looking at lands that were disturbed,” he said. He’s hoping the MoE will “divorce” the undisturbed land from the contaminated land.
Coun. Roberts noted the terms of reference include “researching funding opportunities” to support an industrial land strategy and brownfield redevelopment. She asked whether it would be council doing the work to find funding or “are we downloading it on staff.”
She also asked whether the committee would be relying on MoE or Teck to secure funding in order to make the committee’s work effective.
Finalizing his comments, Mayor McCormick said remediation is moving forward on a continual basis. He added Teck is willing to work with the city to redevelop the former concentrator sites for a future commercial park, but “the question is a matter of capacity [on Teck’s] part, resources for what they can actually put into this over what period of time.” He noted the other important consideration in the future of the Teck lands are MoE regulations, which “are changing, getting stronger not weaker.”
Council voted on the three items, which passed by a three to one vote. Coun. Oakley voted against each item.
City Extends Tourism Kimberley funding
Council voted unanimously to renew Tourism Kimberley’s (TK) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) another five years, to 2022. Funding for TK will remain at $75,000 per year.
In a report to council, Kevin Wilson, Economic Development Officer, noted the 2017 “hotel room tax (MRDT) was trending 11% over 2016 which eclipsed 2008 as the best tourism year recorded.”
This growth puts the revenues generated from the MRDT at approximately $116,500.
The report notes TK website visits dropped from just over 93,000 (2015-2016) to not quite 78,000 (2016-2017). The other change in TK web traffic revolved around the top three cities web visitors were from. In 2016-2017, they were Calgary, Edmonton, Regina. In previous years Vancouver residents visiting the website were among the top three.
While the MOU is being extended for five years, funding is renewed yearly and could, in the future, be reduced if a council of the day decided to do so.
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.
The next regular council meeting will be on April 9.
It’s your city, get involved.
Lead image from Tourism Kimberley