Village votes to keep its money

The business community needs to be getting their ducks in a row.

On Dec. 11, the Village of Burns Lake council took a break from its heavy schedule of budget meetings, both closed and public, to discuss regular village business.

Christmas greetings from the RCMP

St. Sgt. Grant MacDonald described a quiet summer in his quarterly report to council.  The Lakes District News previously covered his concerns regarding false or dropped 911 calls.  MacDonald reminded everyone of his commitment to have the detachment out this Christmas season for roadside visits with holiday revellers in Burns Lake and District.

Weekend snowfalls untimely

Snow removal at the Tom Forsyth Arena, or the lack of it on weekends, was brought to the attention of council by Blain Cunningham, manager of the Old Timer Hockey team, as well as a hockey parent and grandparent.  The problem, according to Cunningham, is that snow piles up over the weekend and it creates a safety issue for users of the arena.

The village of Burns Lake snow removal policy, explained chief operating officer Sheryl Worthing, places priority upon hospital routes, major municipal roadways, downtown public parking lots, any remaining municipal streets, sidewalks in the business corridor, and finally, other public open spaces.

The arena parking lot falls into that last category, so it has to wait until all other higher priority road and walk-ways are cleared before anything can happen at the arena.  It comes down to time and financial considerations, Worthing explained in an email.

Snow removal proceeds ten hours per day, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  After hours snow removal would require overtime pay, so snow that arrives on a Saturday would likely not be removed until the following day, unless snowfall was continual enough that higher priority road and walkways had to be cleared again on the Sunday.

Carbon guilt but cash in bank

Village council had to decide on how to handle its commitment to carbon neutrality.  At issue was whether or not the village should buy carbon credits at a cost of $9600 to win the title of carbon neutral for 2012.

Council considered two resolutions.  The first, to purchase the carbon credits, and the second, to not be carbon neutral but keep the $9600 in village coffers and dedicate it to future carbon offset projects.

Councillor Quinten Beach spoke in favour of purchasing the credits.

“I think option two lacks teeth,” he said.  “What’s going to prevent a council down the road from just taking that money and using it for something else?”

Mayor Luke Strimbold thought that although Beach had a point, but he also relayed a cautionary note.

“If we purchase carbon offsets, we don’t get any of those funds back.  [Option two] would keep them within local government use,” he said.

Councillors Susan Shienbein and John Illes agreed with Strimbold and passed a motion stating that the village would keep the money set aside to purchase offsets and earmark that money for projects within Burns Lake that could eventually earn the village carbon credits.

Work camp in the works for Burns Lake

Kenny Worthing, owner of Lakes District Drilling, is considering opening a temporary workers camp in Burns Lake to accommodate the influx of workers for construction projects.  Spring of 2013 will see the start of three large construction projects in Burns Lake: the construction of a new hospital, the construction of the new Babine Forest Products mill, and the construction of the multi-use facility extension at the Tom Forsyth Arena.

The camp, according the Kenny, would be able to accommodate up to 196 workers.  The site would include kitchen and recreation facilities.

Although the details are not worked out and the plans are preliminary, Kenny hopes that the temporary campsite would benefit Burns Lake.

“Our intention is to put the camp as close to town as possible so that all the businesses in town can benefit from this project,” he said in an email.  “We intend to employ a number of local people to work at the camp while it is running, and some local contractors will be needed to help set up and take down the camp.”

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Worthing informed council that, because of her husband’s plans, she would ‘abstain from participating’ in any staff or council discussions regarding the establishment of the worker’s camp.  Although, according to her letter, the venture would not involve the village in lease or operations, Worthing wanted to avoid any possible conflict of interests that may arise during council or staff consideration regarding ‘any associated zoning, regulatory or servicing issues that may arise.”

On a related note coun. Schienbein commented that local business people should be planning now for the influx of workers in the new year.

“The business community needs to be getting their ducks in a row,” Schienbein said.  “It can be an awesome opportunity or a problem, depending on how they’re looking at it.  People should be adjusting their business plans now and I’m not sure that people have quite figured it out.”

 

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