The new financial plan and property tax rates for 2018 — which featured higher taxes for all categories of properties, except businesses — all passed their first, second and third readings. A new bylaw removing the ban on using fireworks in Burns Lake also received its first three readings by council.
The Burns Lake village finances for the year ending on December 31, 2017 received a positive review from an independent auditor, who spoke to council by speakerphone. The village held an accumulated surplus of roughly $31.5 million at the end of 2017 — compared to $28.5 million at the beginning of the year.
Deborah Goble and Ron Blinn of the First Responders Cafe Society (FRCS) spoke to council about their group, which is meant to provide social support for paramedics, police and firefighters — people who often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and experience high rates of suicide.
According to the FRCS, 19 first responders in B.C. took their own lives in 2016, including seven paramedics, seven police officers, four firefighters and one corrections officer. Goble and Blinn asked council for a letter of support for their group.
Splash park dashed
Economic development officer Val Anderson brought forward a proposal for a children’s splash park and ice rink at Radley Beach — but council quickly scotched the idea. The recommendation, defeated by council, would have committed $100,000 from the community forest reserve fund to the project, which staff said would assist in securing further money for the project through grants. Councillors Michael Riis-Christianson and Kelly Holliday said the village needed to focus on other priorities.
It remains unclear whether plans will go ahead to set up an art gallery at the former site of St. John’s Anglican Church. Local artists Clare Singleton and Hilda Earl floated the idea at the April 10 council meeting, proposing a trial run from June to September.
A report by fire chief Rob Krause said in a report to council that some repairs and upgrades would be needed for safety, including emergency lighting and smoke detectors. A consultant is expected to visit Burns Lake in the coming weeks to provide an estimate for the work. “It is going to need some TLC over the next little while,” said Krause. Councillors said they wanted to encourage the art gallery promoters, and the curling rink came up as a possible alternative.
Council agreed to provide the services of the public works department to help dig a footing for a new greenhouse — as requested by the Burns Lake Community Garden Society — but declined to waive the cost of a $216 building permit, with Councillor Susan Schienbein arguing that it would create a dangerous precedent for future applicants.
The campaign for 20-hour ferry service across Francois Lake got another shot in the arm, as councillors agreed to provide a letter of support for the effort. Organizers from the Southside are pushing for the B.C. Ministry of Transport to restore sailings every half-hour for the free ferry, with service starting at 5 a.m. daily.