Council briefs: City pens letter for federal funding to mitigate increased rail traffic

Council briefs: City pens letter for federal funding to mitigate increased rail traffic

Changes in ticketing bylaw, visit from BC Seniors Advocate among discussions Oct. 15

Council made their way through a packed agenda during a four-hour long city council meeting on Oct. 15. A summary of key discussions is below.

Increased rail traffic

The City of Terrace is sending a letter to the federal and provincial governments, along with the Port of Prince Rupert (PRPA) and CN Rail, voicing concerns about the continued expansion of the PRPA without any plans to construct a second overpass here to mitigate increased rail traffic through the community.

In early September the federal government announced a $153.7 million investment in the PRPA from the National Trade Corridors Fund “to support three separate critical trade infrastructure projects to facilitate growth and enable further trade development at the Port of Prince Rupert.”

This follows several other investments made over the years, including a $22 million fund in 2018, and a combined $30 million investment from both the provincial and federal governments to support the road and rail utility corridor for the project on Ridley Island.

READ MORE: Is Terrace prepared for a rail disaster?

While the city says its supports industrial developments in the region, that may change if there is no revenue coming to the city to deal with the added strain of rail traffic impeding level vehicle crossings. Staff say they are doing “whatever they can” to ensure there is money available to support the expected increases in rail traffic.

“We cannot be expected to continue to be the co-host to these developments without significant support from the federal and provincial governments,” city staff wrote in a letter to council.

Changes to ticketing bylaw

New categories and some increased fines were added to the city’s ticketing bylaw. City planning staff worked in consultation with departments including bylaw enforcement, the fire department, leisure services and the RCMP. The city says the actions arose after updates were made to their animal control bylaw earlier this year.

READ MORE: Changes to Terrace Animal Control bylaw

  • Building inspection offences were increased from $100 to $250, except for building without a permit, which will remain at $100. The fee for obstruction of a city official was raised to $500.
  • A fine of $100 for operating in violation of regulations for street vendors or food trucks was added. The fine for obstructing an official was raised to $500.
  • Terrace’s solid waste operating bylaw was increased from $100 to $250 for all offences related to solid waste, except for littering, which will be left at $100. A new fine category for tampering with receptacles was added with a fine of $250.
  • Violations of development permits was increased from $100 to $250.
  • Fines for unsightly properties was added at a cost of $300.
  • Graffiti, defacing, cutting down or destroying trees and shrubs fines were all increased to $500. A new $100 fine for disturbing the peace and interference was also added.
  • Exceeding parking time limits will now cost drivers $100.
  • Violations related to burning and fire hazards could cost anywhere between $200-$500 depending on the offence.

Pool budget

Council reallocated $75,000 from the city’s general surplus and $25,000 from the pool’s vestibule project to leisure services’ pool extras fund to complete outstanding works since the centre’s opening. This was done during a committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 9.

Cemetary urns

Another $28,000 was taken from the city’s general surplus for the purchase and installation of a new 48-niche columbarium for the cemetary. A columbarium is a room or building with shallow compartments to hold urns with ashes. The city says the cemetary was in need of another one sooner than expected. This was discussed during a committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 9.

Planning fees bylaw changes

Council added several amendments to their planning fees bylaw after it was determined that an increase in certain land development fees was needed to cover the associated costs and demand of staff time and resources.

  • Subdivision (simple I phased or bare/and strata) application fee for the first lot created has increased from $150 to $500.
  • Zoning Bylaw Amendment and Official Community Plan (OCP) Amendment application fees have been increased from $1,000 to $1,200 to reflect the cost of newspaper ads.
  • Combined Zoning Bylaw and OCP Amendment application fee has increased from $1,600 to $2,000. Inclusion of a one-time fee for cash-in lieu for off-street parking (per space) of $3,500. The city had missed adding this application fee up until this point.

Senior services

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie spoke to Terrace city council on systematic issues facing senior residents.

Mackenzie visited Terrace, Kitimat and New Aiyansh as part of her tour of the Skeena-Bulkley Valley from October 15-17.

During her presentation, Mackenzie noted several challenges face Terrace’s senior population, including transportation, housing, and available services. She recommended city council lobby the provincial government to assist in the building of suitable market housing for seniors.

Heritage Conservation Plan

City planner Ken Newman introduced Terrace’s Heritage Conservation Plan team, which is comprised of Denise Cook, Susan Medville and Berdine Jonker. The team met with residents on Oct. 17 to document what people believed to be important sites and events in Terrace’s history. These will be used to develop an inventory of heritage places for the plan. First Nations heritage will also be included.

Following the event, the team will prepare a Heritage Management Plan that includes visions and goals for heritage conservation in Terrace, guidelines for evaluating heritage proposals, terms of reference for the creation of an advisory committee, and key strategic recommendations.

Northern Women’s Recovery House update

Terrace city council will write a letter of support for the Northern Women’s Recovery House Society in its efforts to bring a treatment centre to Terrace.

Valerie Wright and Blain Stensgaard from the society asked city council for to assist them in obtaining funding to establish a facility for Northwest B.C. residents.

READ MORE: New society forms to propose recovery home for women in Terrace

The society wants to have the first second-stage treatment facility in Northwest B.C., with 10-12 beds and programming acknowledging Indigenous culture. Treatment would also include a 12-step program from Alcoholic Anonymous called Wellbriety that incorporates Indigenous wellness traditions.

They have gathered 1,800 signatures supporting the development, noting there is no sober place to stay in Northwest B.C. for women who are working to maintain their sobriety. The society says women needing support in the north often find themselves suddenly in the midst of a crisis, and possibly living on the street because of the lack of available support.

With the establishment of the facility, Wright and Stensgaard hope to help those living with intergenerational trauma to heal. There are only four similar second-stage treatment centres in the north and none are in the northwest.

Fire department quarterly

Terrace Fire Department responded to 436 calls during the third quarter of 2019.

Crews responded to 55 fire related calls, 255 medical/first aid calls, 38 rescue/motor vehicle/pedestrian struck calls, and 88 mutal aid calls.

“Most of those numbers are up a bit from last year,” says John Klie, fire chief, pointing to first-responder calls.

READ MORE: B.C. communities call for changes to ambulance response priorities

Total number of calls is up by 40 per cent from this time last year. First responder calls saw a 28 per cent jump in comparison.

The department’s 24 active members were available a total of 5,234 on-call hours. Last year during this quarter, 30 active members were available for 8,570 on-call hours.

Development permits

Council issued three development permits.

  • One was to increase the maximum floor area allowed for an accessory structure for a mobile home on Kalum Street, allowing the owner of the property to keep an existing shed on the northeast corner of the site.
  • Another was for Rod Pelletier of N.C. Properties Inc. for a new multi-family phased strata development at 4645 Graham Ave. on the Southside. The first phase of construction consists of 12 dwelling units with access, internal roadways, common amenity space and landscaping features. A temporary turnaround will accommodate emergency access, and will be replaced with permanent paved internal access roads as construction goes on. The developer is working to finalize the design for all civil works, including roads, water and sanitary systems. It’s expected construction will start in spring 2020.
  • The third permit was for Terrace Steel Works Ltd. to allow the construction of a new accessory building at 22 Kalum Lake Road. The proposed structure meets the minimum setback requirements for accessory buildings within the C3 zone, but requires a variance to the overall height from the maximum permitted 6.4 metres to 7.2 metres.

Tax exemption application

Progressive Ventures Ltd., owner of the Skeena Bar at 4529 Greig Avenue, was granted a tax exemption on the value of the improvements made to the property from 2020 through to 2024.

Before the bar was built, the property was left vacant after the former Skeena Hotel burnt down years ago. The improvements qualified Progressive Ventures for a tax exemption, the city says.

The value of the permissive exemption granted for a project with construction costs exceeding $500,000 is to be the higher amount of $100,000, or equal to the difference in the assessed values before and after the improvements were made.

The Progressive Ventures building exempted for the annual amount of $289,000 as determined by the BC Assessment Authority. The building will be taxable again in 2025.

FireSmart grant

Council will be applying to the province’s 2020 Community Resiliency Investment Program for funding under the FireSmart Community Funding & Supports program. This is the city’s second applicaiton.

Westland Resources did a risk assessment for the most vulnerable properties in town, identifying 65 homes at risk. Promoting FireSmart trained experts, extending assessments and rebates beyond the 65 homes eligible for the grant, extending the possibility of a city wide chipping program at certain times of the year for wood waste, and other ideas are included in the city’s grant application.

Funding is available for local governments up to $150,000.

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