FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2017
Special Council Meeting
October 24, 2017
Water Rate Changes
Council provided decisions regarding water rates for users of the city’s water systems. With new infrastructure being built soon, including the new Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant to be constructed in 2018-19, new rates are required to pay for capital and operating costs. Currently five water systems exist in West Kelowna: Westbank, Lakeview, Sunnyside, Pritchard, and West Kelowna Estates. Westbank is served by the Powers Creek Water Treatment Plant. All other systems are currently treated with chlorine only; but, once the new plant and interconnections are built, Lakeview, Sunnyside, Pritchard and West Kelowna Estates Systems will be served by the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant. Although the city received a $41 million grant to build the plant, the City will be required to contribute $17 million towards the construction of the plant and the interconnections. Furthermore, the Water Utility Master Plan indicates that improvements are needed for fire protection in the Westbank System which will require $7 million in upgrades.
Council made the following decisions:
- Council agreed not to include a capital reserve charge once debt repayment for the Powers Creek and Rose Valley plants are complete.
- Council agreed to discontinue five non-conforming commercial and institutional rates inherited from the former Sunnyside Irrigation District that provided individualised rates for two wineries, two schools and one bible camp. The rates will now be included in the commercial and industrial rates applicable to all comparable properties.
- Establishment of a Water Maintenance Fee for all unimproved parcels to take into account capital and operating costs of the system
For agricultural water users, Council made the following decisions:
- A two-year wait period before new rates impact agricultural users to allow time for property owners to investigate obtaining Farm Status if not already in place.
- Continue subsidies for agricultural water users provided their property has Farm Status through BC Assessment. By 2020, agricultural water users who do not have Farm Status will not be subsidised and will be charged at the residential rate.
- By 2020, all agricultural users will be charged a quarterly $12 flat fee per acre plus a tiered agricultural consumption charge.
Marijuana Legislation Feedback
Council provided feedback regarding the provincial regulatory framework for the legalisation of non-medical marijuana, as requested by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Council agreed to provide the following input:
- The minimum age to buy, grow and possess marijuana should be 19.
- Province should prohibit public cannabis smoking altogether, but allow cannabis vaping wherever tobacco smoking and vaping are allowed.
- Province should launch a public education and awareness campaign regarding cannabis-impaired driving, establish a zero-tolerance standard for “L” or “N” drivers, provide training to police officers to identify impairment and include drug-impaired driving in Immediate Roadside Prohibition or Administrative Driving Prohibition enforcement.
- Province should implement a Government Distribution model.
- Province should implement a public retail system, provided it observes local bylaws.
Council also indicated an interest in revenue sharing with the province as municipalities will be faced with costs related to police training and bylaw enforcement. Staff will provide Council’s feedback in a written submission to the ministry.
Temporary Agricultural Workers
Council directed staff to begin drafting Zoning Bylaw amendments regarding temporary agricultural worker dwellings. On August 22, a delegation to Council expressed concerns about ongoing alleged criminal activity and bylaw infractions related to temporary agricultural dwellings on Scharf Road. In response, staff provided a report with options for Council to consider to help address some of these concerns. Council provided the following decision points to help focus the drafting of the amendments:
- Investigate further regulations in the Zoning Bylaw for the use of tents and recreational vehicles as acceptable forms of temporary agricultural worker dwellings.
- Require that all agricultural worker dwellings have hygienic washroom and bathing facilities.
- Require that all agricultural worker dwellings follow occupant loads in the British Columbia Building Code, but Council wants input from the industry on this point.
- Investigate further mechanisms for proponents of temporary agricultural worker dwellings to notify the city of their intent to operate.
- Investigate the possibility of requiring business licences for the operation of agricultural worker dwellings and increasing the fine for a contravention of the bylaw.
- Investigate a Council policy for statutory declarations and/or restrictive covenants associated with temporary agricultural workers.
Staff will consult with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Advisory Commission and the local agricultural industry when drafting new regulations. Public consultation will also be undertaken.
October 24, 2017
Arena Safety Procedures
In light of the recent tragic deaths of three arena workers in Fernie, BC, Council was provided a verbal report on safety procedures at the city’s two arenas, Jim Lind and Royal LePage Place. The city maintains its ammonia refrigeration plant to the highest standards for arenas. It has received a Risk Assessed Facility designation from the BC Safety Authority, considered the leading standard in safety when it comes to maintaining, monitoring, and operating an ammonia refrigeration plant inside a community ice arena. Regular inspections by the BC Safety Authority are completed and a refrigeration contractor conducts monthly inspections and routine maintenance on the City’s ice plant. Staff complete routine checks and fill out a detailed checklist every two hours. All staff are trained and have a provincially-recognised certificate, which is legislatively mandated for workers. Monitoring is done 24 hours a day and notification is sent if there is a problem. In the event of an ammonia leak, an audible and visual alarm goes off inside the rink, a signal is sent to the monitoring company and staff are notified. A high speed fan will kick in to help exhaust the ammonia, however, it will shut off if ammonia levels are too high and present a risk to the outside public. If needed, an emergency shut down button located outside the ice plant can be activated by staff. A gas monitor is mounted outside the refrigeration plant and displays the gas levels inside the plant. Personal protective equipment is provided to staff including gas masks, eye protection and hearing protection. In the event of an emergency, thecity will implement facility evacuation procedures, which all arena staff are trained to lead.
Strategic Plan 2017-2018 3rd Quarter Update
Council was provided with the third quarter update outlining work done between July and September 2017 intended to meet the goals and objectives set out in the2017-2018 Strategic Plan. The plan sets out both short and long-term targets for completion within Council’s five main strategic objectives; infrastructure, economic and financial environment, sustainability, governance and protective services.
Proposed Telecommunications Tower
Council supported a Rogers Communication Inc. proposal to construct a wireless telecommunications tower and accessory structure on Crown Lands located above the Shannon Lake and Smith Creek neighbourhoods.
Council was introduced to the new CityView Portal which provides information to the public on development and building applications. The notification feature of CityView, a software to manage and track development and building applications, allows community members to sign up to receive information related to applications, even allowing search by specific geographical areas. The city will begin communicating this new service to the public.
Economic Development Committee
During a review prompted by the completion of the City’s Economic Development Committee’s first two-year mandate, Council agreed to maintain the EDC. The City will begin seeking new applications for the committee.
2018 Permissive Property Tax Exemptions
Council adopted the Property Tax Exemption Bylaw for 2018 for qualifying places of worship, private schools, hospital and non-profit groups. The estimated value of City property taxes exempted through permissive exemptions is $109,622. In 2017, the value was $111,796.