Councillors adjust to paperless council meeting – and other briefs

Briefs from Monday night's Castlegar City Council meeting.

Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and councillors Deb McIntosh

Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and councillors Deb McIntosh

Council briefs

Open air bylaw

During Monday’s Castlegar City Council meeting,

councillor Dan Rye reported that council was heading toward enacting amendments to an open air bylaw to prohibit the burning of residential yard waste within the City.

“Council’s been looking at doing this for a number of years now,” said Rye, who is the chair of the Public Safety committee. “It’s been put on the back burner more than once. We decided with the Public Safety committee that we need to move forward with it.”

Rye says the bylaw stems from several complaints received about backyard burning.

“What we plan to do is have an open burning of yard waste ban in effect for the spring,” he said. “We feel over the last few years we’ve had the spring and fall pick up of yard waste that we are doing already. We also have the bins up at the recreation centre which people can use year-round to drop off yard waste at no charge. We think Castlegar is becoming a greener and greener community all the time and it’s time to move on.”

Backyard campfires will still be allowed.

Emergency services

Also in Public Safety, a petition from Columbia Avenue residents was received requesting the speed limit be reduced between 27th and 22nd streets. As well, a request was included to post signs prohibiting the use of engine brakes.

“We forwarded the petition and letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Highways, because that is actually Highways jurisdiction, not our road,” said Rye. “It’s up to them what speed limit they want on it. As for the engine brake complaint, we would try to make sure there are signs up there and if not, install them.”

The RCMP, which is also part of the Public Safety committee, will monitor speeds through the area, said Rye.

Cobra Climb

Councillor Deb McIntosh, chair of the Transportation and Civic Works committee, stated that there would be a public information meeting on Thursday, Sept. 27 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Community Forum.

Councillor Rye suggested the meeting be moved, as there would only be three councillors in town at that time.

McIntosh said the public meeting was to gather information and therefore not all councillors needed to be there. In addition, there would be several City staff members there to help gather information from the public.

“I just don’t know about having a public meeting when you know four members of your council are going to be out of town,” said Rye. “I’m hoping the other three councillors are there. I have no problem with the meeting. I think it’s just better if we have a majority of council there at that meeting.

Japan

Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, and fire chief Gerry Rempel will be heading off to Castlegar’s sister city Embetsu, Japan at the end of this month for a week long tour.

“I’m excited and a little nervous,” said Heaton-Sherstobitoff. “We’ll arrive in Sapporo and take a bus to Embetsu where we will stay for three days. We’ll have some official city business, which consists of the grand opening of their firehall, a very formal reception of 100 years of the firehall, and a reception at the city. On the way back, we’ll go to Tokyo and meet with the daughter of Mr. Shikano, who established the exchange, and visit his gravesite and do a ceremony to honour him.”

UBCM

Councillors Dan Rye and Gord Turner will represent Castlegar at the upcoming UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) convention in Victoria beginning on Sept. 24.

“We’ll be attending and we get to vote on the issues at UBCM,” said Turner. “Where possible we’ll vote on how we know the city would expect and city council’s position. If there’s something new or outside our domain we would vote as we see fit.”

iPads

All Castlegar city councillors and senior city staff were equipped with shiny new iPads for the meeting. The move toward iPads is a decision to try to reduce paper waste.

Councillor Kevin Chernoff has been bringing an iPad to council for more than a year so he was prepared for the change, while other councillors struggled.

“I’m having trouble with mine,” said Rye. “This was my first meeting with the iPad. Last year, when council was setting goals, one of them was to go to paperless council meetings. We’re just in the process of working towards it. Tonight was the first night that all council members had it in front of them. Kevin was the first one to have it and he’s got it mastered. I’m struggling a little bit. But we figure at the end of the day it should save us about $5,000 a year in paper.”

Councillor Gord Turner is also game to try the new technology.

“I’m struggling with it but I think I’ll get onto it,” he said. “Obviously, I use my computer at home for email and all sorts of other things and I don’t have to use paper there much. Council has indicated that we use 100,000 sheets of paper a year. That’s around $7,000. So the cost can be picked up easily be using these. So I had a little trouble tonight but I’m learning. It doesn’t change how the meeting goes. I might look at the screen more than with the paper, because the screen moves so I’ll have to get used to that.”

The iPads were purchased out of the City budget at a cost of $6,800. In one year, the savings in paper should almost pay for the electronics.

The cost to run paper meetings is $7,007. Yearly costs to run paperless meetings are $1,800. Going paperless saves the city (and taxpayers) approximately $5,207 annually, said a report from the City.

“We’ve had a few glitches with the new ones,” said Chernoff. “We’ve added bookmarks to help search through the files quickly during the meetings. I had no issues because it’s my fourth meeting without paper. So I was able to help direct some the other councillors.”

Councillor Russ Hearne, who was not present, was able to participate in the meeting over the phone and through councillor Chernoff’s iPad’s Facetime.