Monday’s city council meeting kicked off with the swearing in of Castlegar’s newly-elected councillor, Arry Dhillon. Tracey Butler, as a commissioner of the province of British Columbia, took Dhillon’s affirmation of the oath of office.
“Getting sworn in was exciting,” said Dhillon. “It was good to have the family here, and have the big support of the community and the councillors as well. It was an exciting day for sure.”
Dhillon got to experience a full range of procedures and rules during his first meeting as motions were fervently debated, passed, sent back to committee, tabled and bylaws were adopted. “They are a lot to take in for the first meeting,” said Dhillon of all of the rules. “The agenda was heavily packed with a lot of heated topics, so that made for a very interesting first meeting.”
Columbia Ave. property to be demolished
The contract to demolish the derelict property located at 1067 Columbia Ave. was awarded to Maglio Installations Ltd. who was the lowest bidder. The demolition is the product of a multiple year back and forth with the owner, Buta Nannan. A string of bylaw and safety infractions and the owner’s failure to comply has brought council to the point where they feel they have no other option. Work is expected to begin in about two weeks, as soon as all necessary permits are obtained.
Revision of grants policy
The finance committee brought forward a proposal to change the city’s grants policy. Councillors have been asking for an updated policy for several years. The proposal called for two intake deadlines, but during discussion, most of the councillors asked that to be changed to three times a year.
The policy also called for a change away from granting a good portion of the grants budget to people travelling out of town, to things like sporting events, to a focus more on events taking place in Castlegar. Councillor Bruno Tassone was not in favour of that change. “I personally don’t like this; I like what we have now,” he stated before saying he would vote against the measure.
The majority of the remaining councillors were in favour of the changes. “We didn’t make these decisions lightly,” said finance committee member Dan Rye. “To me, we are spending Castlegar tax payers’ money and we should spend it to benefit Castlegar and attract people to Castlegar.”
Several councillors expressed the frustration that sometimes in past years, they were unable to support an event or group doing something in Castlegar because the money had already been used up by travel grants.
“I think we need to give this new policy a shot; we have fought with this policy for as long as I can remember,” said Councillor Deb McIntosh. “It’s a hard policy to change, because it does affect the people we represent.”
Other suggested changes included setting limits as to how often someone can apply. The final decision was to send the policy back to the finance committee to consider the items brought up in discussion.
Cleanup of records
Council authorized city staff to destroy city records in accordance with Bylaw 620. The records were legally eligible for destruction in 2015 and date back to 2005-2007. The items include financial records like cheque registers, accounts payable, and journal vouchers, and other items such as dog license records and address changes. A complete list is available on the city’s website in the council meeting package.
Castlegar city staff is currently working with other cities in the area to explore a way to share the costs of taking all records to a digital format on a secure server to eliminate the need to go through the process of destroying records.
The idea of destroying records sounded concerning to Councillor Dhillon when he first saw it on the agenda, but after speaking with staff and learning what the standard procedures were, he felt comfortable with the motion. “It is mainly just housekeeping duties — it is not anything major,” said Dhillon. “The concerns I had were all dealt with — it is not anything new or out of the ordinary.”
Recreation Commission appointments
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff recommended that councillors Rye and Florio Vasilikakkis be appointed to the Castlegar and District Recreation Committee for a two-year term. Tassone voted against the appointments.
Marijuana Dispensaries prohibited
In a move advised by legal council in order to prevent future difficulties, council passed a zoning bylaw amendment prohibiting marijuana dispensaries in the city of Castlegar. See full story Wednesday at castlegarnews.com.