By Andrea Arnold

McBride Council members met May 12, 2020 via video-conference for their regular meeting. Mayor Runtz called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. Councillors Frederick, Hruby, Green and Smith were present, along with CAO McCutcheon.

Council moved to receive a letter from Maja Tait, President of the Union of BC Municipalities regarding the provincial response to 2019 resolutions put forward by McBride Council members. Last year Council requested that UBCM lobby the provincial government to ensure the intent of the recycling regulations is met and that Extended Producer Responsibility programs deliver service to communities regardless of size and location. In the page-long response, the Province says local governments are instructed to contact extended producer responsibility (EPR) organizations to request support for collection services/events in their community. Recycle BC is conducting depot accessibility and cost studies in correlation with the recent approval of their renewed plan. The plan provides greater flexibility in how services can be provided to smaller, rural and remote communities.

BC Hydro Pricing Structure
Council requested that UBCM lobby the Province to make the necessary changes to BC Hydro to restructure their two-tier pricing model for Northern regions of the Province of BC and create an equitable pricing structure for all BC citizens. The provincial response states that a number of British Columbians feel that tiered rates can be unfair for households in parts of our province where alternative fuels are not readily available to meet their space and water hearing needs BC Hydro responded stating that they have heard the concerns and are starting to examine different options, especially in light of the government’s Clean BC goals. Both parties state that changes to rate structure must be made through public processes before the British Columbia Utilities Commission, and that if this advances further, there will be opportunities for customers, and stakeholders, including communities, to participate in consultation and provide submissions on potential new designs.

Less access in-person gov services
Council requested that UBCM lobby the Province to provide equitable access to in-person provincial government services for all small, rural communities in B.C. The province’s response came from the Ministry of Citizens’ Services. They said the government’s goal is to provide services within reasonable travel time where citizens can walk in and get face-to-face help but that it is a major challenge to provide this in every rural community. There is access to a number of critical government services available at the shared provincial government office in McBride and a Service BC office in Valemount. Service BC is working to install a Community Access Terminal (CATs) in McBride. This would provide phone support with direct contact to the Service BC Contact Centre. Future pilot projects starting through the Contact Centre would include SMS texting, co-browsing and web chat.

Council agreed that they were not done petitioning these topics on behalf of the community.

5-year financial plan
Council passed the motion to give third reading and further approves the adoption of the both the Five-Year Financial Plan (2020-2024) Bylaw No. 793.2020, as well as the 2020 Municipal Property Tax Bylaw No. 794.2020.

Tax assistance
Council passed the motion to receive the report to council – COVID-19 Municipal Budgeting, Taxation and Financial Reporting, for information and future consideration. This report outlines the measures the Province is taking to provide critical assistance through 2020 for businesses and local government. There will be information included in the 2020 tax notices with more detail on the following points:

The Province has provided $720 million in school tax relief through a reduction in 2020 school tax rates.

The Province will postpone the application of late payment penalties for property tax on commercial properties to October 1, 2020. In instances of split classification buildings (business and residential for example), the entire property is eligible for the extension.

The Province is delaying municipalities’ remittance of school tax and police tax to the end of 2020. This will effectively free up money for any summer financial needs.

The Province will allow inter fund borrowing from one or more capital reserve funds. This money needs to be paid back into the capital budget within five years. At this time, the Village has a balanced budget and is not projecting any shortfalls.

The Province will enable municipalities to delay the statutory date of property tax sales (and redemption) by one year.

The Province will not be enforcing the May 15 deadline for local governments to submit their audited financial statements and Local Government Data Entry (LGDE) System Reports. Also delayed, is the requirement for annual reports, and for the Statement of Financial Information Reports, to August 31, 2020. Administration plans to submit the LGDE by May 31, 2020.

Hazardous structures
Council passed the motion authorizing staff to deliver a notice to the property owner of 1177 4th Ave stating that all hazardous structures must be removed no later than May 31, 2020. If this deadline is not met, and the property owner has not requested an extension from the Village, remedial action will be taken at the expense of the property owner as per Section 77 & 78 of the Community Charter.

In camera
Council passed the motion that in accordance with Section 90 (l) (c) labour relations or other employee relations, and (i) the receipt of advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communication necessary for that purpose, Council moved into a Closed In-Camera Meeting. Council passed a motion at 7:21 pm in order to conduct the Closed In-Camera Meeting.