For the second time in less than two months, the public has been affected by technicalities surrounding the Prince Rupert City Council meeting. With COVID-19 restrictions and the public not able to attend meetings in person residents may be left unaware of happenings with-in chambers.
The latest glitch happened on Dec. 7th with the meeting package and agenda not able to be opened or printed properly from online which left some public and media unaware of issues to be discussed. For those that did manage to get the agenda opened, pages and items were missing leading to confusion during the telecast. Meetings are broadcast on community television and streamed via social media.
When technical issues were brought to the city’s attention prior to the meeting, during the day by The Northern View, a full agenda was requested to be emailed. The response was that the files were too large to email. The corrected and accessible version of the agenda was not available until the next day, Dec. 8 after the meeting and decisions by the council had been made.
While council briefs were posted on the city’s social media site on Dec. 9, no mention of the technicalities or apologies were offered by the city.
In the last meeting of the year, council heard from Corinne Bomben chief financial officer who reported no significant variances apart from those presented in past meetings and that some capital projects have been carried forward into 2021. All current 2020 capital projects that are already underway are within budget.
Two new appointments to the Tourism Prince Rupert Board, made in a closed meeting, were announced to be Craig Outhet and Michael Cote.
Council approved the Water Utility Management, Sanitary and Storm Sewer Management and Solid Waste Management Amendment Bylaws. This puts into place incremental increases to the utility fees over the next 4 years to account for inflationary costs and as such will be:
Solid waste – two per cent increase in each year starting in 2021
Water – four per cent increase in 2021, two per cent thereafter for the remaining three years.
Sanitary/Sewer – Zero per cent increase in 2021, two per cent thereafter for the remaining three years.
“These increases are less than the previous rate increases of three per cent per year, which was implemented during the last adoption of four-year fee bylaws. Utilities are self-funding for operations, with all funds collected going towards the operating cost of the respective utility,” the city said in its summary.
Cemetery Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw were approved which will see an increase of two per cent and a minor adjustment to the care fund which helps to maintain the memorials. New columbaria are also planned to be installed in 2021, and the fees reflect new options that will be available with this change.
“Council passed first and second readings of Zoning Bylaw 3462, amended to remove the requirement for owner-occupation of homes containing secondary suites, and ensuring the inclusion of the M1 zone as a permitted area for containers, with aesthetics related to container usage regulated by Development Permit Guidelines,” the summary said.
Council also passed First and Second Readings of the OCP Bylaw 3460, with some slight amendments to be provided by Council to the contracted Planner for incorporation prior to the Public Hearing.
Public Hearings for the OCP and Zoning bylaws will be delayed to the new year due to COVID, with staff to incorporate the amendments and make necessary referrals in the intervening period, and contemplate scheduling in the new year following updated guidelines from the Province.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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