By Andrea Arnold
Mayor Gene Runtz called Tuesday, Nov 22. 2022 McBride Council meeting to order at 7:00pm. Councillor Smith attended via ZOOM.
Brought out from in camera
In the minutes to be approved from the November 8th meeting, there were several in camera items approved by members of the previous council to bring forward into public viewing, during the in camera meeting on October 25th. These decisions had been made at different points within the term, and the outgoing council decided to bring them forward before the term was up.
Council approved proceeding with the Lagoon Liner Replacement Project in 2022 & 2023 with up to 73 per cent funding.
Resolution IC070526.20 – Council carried a motion approving Councillor Frederick to monitor Mayor Runtz’ village email account to ensure emails are followed up with and information is shared in a timely manner.
Resolution IC060526.20 – Council approved an appropriate available Councillor to attend each Mayoral meeting with Mayor Runtz, given each meeting’s circumstances.
Resolution SIC04061620 – Be it resolved that Council shall address what it believes to be conduct unbecoming a member of Village Council by way of: a) motions of censure (expression of Council’s displeasure with one of the members) and b) restricting physical interaction and verbal and written communications with Village Staff by requiring the Mayor to only do so through a Council designated intermediary. In other words, the Mayor shall not be allowed to interact and communicate directly, by email, phone or in person before, during or after meetings, with Village staff except through a Council-designated intermediary. Council approved both sanctions “a and b” regarding Mayor Eugene Runtz.
Active Transportation Plan
Council moved to adopt the Village of McBride Active Transportation Plan as presented. The plan outlines ways the Village can help encourage residents to choose human-powered transportation over vehicles more often.
Council directed staff to write a letter to Connecting Communities BC, Ministry of Citizens’ Services, in support of TELUS’ application (Zone 4 application A) to provide PureFibre connectivity to residents and businesses in and adjacent to the Village of McBride. The area included in the proposed project encompasses the entire municipality as well as some areas of Regional District of Fraser Fort George Area H along Highway 16 between Lamming Mills to approximately 15km East of McBride as well as Mountainview Rd, Eddy Rd and some other side roads. CAO Chris Tupy reported that at the most, the project would be completed by the end of 2026, with the possibility of an earlier wrap up.
Bung Bung porta-potty
Council approved the request from Sara Olofsson and the Elks/Royal Purple for permission to set up a porta-potty during the Bung Bung event at Steve Kolida Park on November 25, 2022.
Outdoor rink approved
Council approved the request from Stewart Reimer to build an outdoor public skating rink for the third year in a row in the empty Crescent Park. Reimer estimates that approximately 200 different people used the space last winter, and at least 15 volunteers provided snow removal. The neighbours created and maintained it throughout the season. The following conditions have to be met before the space can be used for this purpose: The Village requires the user group to obtain sufficient liability insurance coverage and to add the Village of McBride as an additional insured party, and for the group to accept responsibility for the extra associated costs; and ii. Council will not support the use of any Village of McBride resources into maintaining the outdoor public ice rink. Councillor Smith voted against the request, saying she would like to see the Rec Centre get more use now that it is available.
The current councillors were given the opportunity to vote on the sanctions put on Mayor Runtz that were brought out of In-camera at the October 25th meeting.
Council first voted to rescind resolution #IC060626.20 ensuring that a Councillor attends each Mayoral meeting with Mayor Runtz. Councillor Kolida asked CAO Tupy if a new motion could be written for an upcoming meeting that would provide a way that council could make sure that a representative was at all mayoral meetings, even when Mayor Runtz couldn’t be there.
Council then discussed the sanction regarding the mayor’s email. Councillor Smith gave examples of situations in the last term when emails were not responded to or forwarded in a timely manner, and the Village missed out on important information. She asked that the sanction be upheld. Councillor Kolida said that he would like to start fresh, and not lean on past situations.
“If it becomes an issue, we can look at it again,” said Kolida.
CAO Tupy said that in many larger municipalities there is a village staff member that is automatically forwarded all of the mayor’s incoming emails to make sure things are not missed. However, in McBride, they do not have the manpower in the office, so they would be asking that a councillor step into this role.
Mayor Runtz moved to rescind the resolution. He said his email is his and he doesn’t want other people to be reading it.
“If I am forced to do it, I am not going to cooperate,” he said. “I don’t answer all of my emails all the time. If it is important, you can call me on the phone.”
Council voted in favour of removing the sanction by a vote of 4-1, with Councillor Smith opposed.
Ancient Forest Working Group
The Ancient Forest Working Group is organized and managed by Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. This planning group exists to advise and support the development of the Ancient Forest Management Plan and the Ancient Forest Enhancement Plan. Stakeholders, including BC Parks, UNBC, various recreation groups and the Village of McBride, are invited, from time to time, to attend Working Group meetings. Since late 2020, the Village has been invited to send a representative. Council appointed Councillor Smith as the delegate and Councillor Frear was appointed as the alternate.
Primary Care Collaborative Table
The Primary Care Collaborative Table is an opportunity for locals to have input in what primary care should look like in a community. Council appointed Councillor Kolida as the delegate for the group and Councillor Caputo as the alternate.
Funding application for Train Station enhancement
Council directed staff to prepare an application to the Destination Development Fund for the McBride Train Station Enhancement Project and bring cost estimates back to Council at a future special meeting for a resolution of support for the project. The fund will award grants across two streams: Activate, which provides 100 per cent of funding up to $1,000,000 per project and Elevate, providing 100 per cent of funding up to $500,000 per project.
Council meeting schedule
Council approved the next year’s schedule of council meetings. CAO Tupy said that there may be a few adjustments made to it as the year progresses due to outside commitments the village has that Councillors are expected to attend.
Council directed administration to prepare and send out Christmas cards.
Addition Item – Wording of Public and Press portion of agenda
Mayor Runtz made a motion to have administration alter the wording of the Public and Press portion of the agenda to make it more inclusive and in keeping with Council’s desire to be more transparent. CAO Tupy said he would work on it, and see if changes to it would require a change to the bylaw as well. The motion was passed with a 4-1 vote, Councillor Smith opposed.
Council moved to proceed to an In-Camera council meeting for consideration of matters of the Community Charter related to Section 90 (1) (c) Labour Relations or other employee relations; (e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land of improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality, and (i) the receipt of advice that is subject to solicitor- client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.
The public portion of the meeting adjourned at 7:52pm.