Council Briefs, Oct. 23, 2013

A relatively brief summary of what went on in council chambers on Oct. 15

A summary of some of the issues that were before District of Sooke council at their regular meeting on October 15, 2013.

Bylaws

Council gave first, second and third reading to the Fee Bylaw Amendment which will sees proposed fee of $50 to be implemented by the RCMP for fingerprinting. The revenue from the collection of the fees would go to offset staffing costs at the detachment. There was some discussion on the escalating costs associated with the RCMP contract.

Staff Sgt. Steve Wright stated, that if the district didn’t sign the agreement (for police services), “you would have 90 days to get your own police force.”

Wright said that fingerprinting was not just related to criminals but was a revenue stream the district was missing out on.

Council adopted Bylaw 577 (Knox Centre), Bylaw 578 (Harbourside Cohousing) and Bylaw 579 (2078 Kennedy Street).

Third reading of Bylaw 581 met with a variety of comments from the public as well as council. The bylaw was being put into place to amend the definition of “lodge” as it relates to the development at Silver Spray.

Gail Hall questioned council as to how “lodge” defines Private Residence Club which is fractional ownership. She said CRD Bylaws 2950 and 2951 has never been rescinded and thereby CD zones could not be touched, meaning Silver Spray was a commercial zone and no rental or private ownerships would be allowed.  Mayor Wendal Milne said the district had received legal advice and council gave the bylaw third reading and adopted the bylaw. Councillor Kerry Reay was opposed stating council was rushing this and clearly there was more work to be done.

Reports requiring action

Council approved an additional $65,000 into the 2014-1018 budget for an additional public servant at the Sooke RCMP detachment. The new position will have someone taking over responsibility for care and handling of exhibits, transcriptions and criminal record checks thereby freeing up officers. It is estimated that the additional public servant will only cost the district $38,570 because of the increase in fees generated in the fees bylaw.

Director of Finance Michael Dillabaugh stated that the detachment hasn’t had a support staff increase in 20 years.

“We’re at a point where we need assistance from the District of Sooke,” said Wright. “We are asking for short term relief.”

It is estimated that the property owners in Sooke will see a two per cent increase in property taxes in 2014.  Mayor Milne said this was a realistic starting point and a target they would work towards. Coun. Rick Kasper was opposed stating there were no guarantees that it was going to be two per cent.

“I can’t support this recommendation,” said Kasper, “it’s too much of a blank cheque… I know we can do better, two per cent just doesn’t wash.”

The rest of council disagreed and voted in favour.

Council wants district staff to be in place during the Christmas holiday season and turned down a recommendation to close the District of Sooke office from December 23 through to January 1.

A rezoning application for property at 1781 Minnie Road and 7057 West Coast Road to be included into the Sewer Specified Area (SSA) was defeated by council. The applicant was exploring the option of creating 800 sq. metre lots without inclusion in the SSA. The applicant was considering a secondary treatment system for sewage.

Mayor Milne stated he could not support this option as it flew in the face of the Liquid Waste Management Plan and he couldn’t support anything other than inclusion in SSA. The applicant has the option of canvassing the neighbouring properties as to whether they would want to connect to municipal sewer.

A recommendation to freeze the salaries of exempt staff at the District of Sooke was opposed by Councillor Maja Tait and Kerrie Reay but council passed the recommendation for a two-year salary freeze.

Volunteer fire fighters may get a bit more in their Christmas card if a recommendation from the Finance and Administration Committee comes to pass. The committee put a recommendation before council to approve in principal a $1,000 honorarium to volunteer fire fighters who meet the minimum service and training requirements to be a volunteer.

Mayor Milne made a motion to form a committee to work with the Firefighters’ Association to work on the details of how this would work.

There were some comments regarding the need for simple recognition and appreciation and other comments on creating a target by throwing money at some volunteers and not others.

Coun. Haldane stated that money was a better show of appreciation than a bag of goodies with a calculator and a toy watch. He said there was a disconnect between the volunteers and council and the community, and the honorarium would be a thank you for what they do for us.

A committee will be formed to work out the details and approval in principal was given to the $1,000 honorarium.