Council briefs: Court watch loses momentum

Summary of key discussions at Terrace city council’s regular meeting Aug. 10

Below is a summary of key discussions from the regular Terrace city council meeting held Aug. 10.

Court watch loses momentum

Council’s court watch initiative hit a snag.

At the previous council meeting, on July 28, council decided to reach out to Coast Mountain College’s criminology program to see if its students would volunteer to sit in on court proceedings and report back to council.

At the Aug. 10 meeting, Councillor Sean Bujtas said Coast Mountain College indicated they are not interested in participating.

Bujtas said he felt now is the wrong time to go ahead with establishing a court watch, because it’s not clear what exactly council wants from the initiative and because he was concerned about asking volunteers to sit in a closed space during the pandemic. Councillor Brian Downie echoed those sentiments.

But councillor James Cordeiro said there is a clear objective for the initiative.

“The purpose is to have a council-sanctioned public presence in the courts so that we have the opportunity for that group to report to us any concerns they have on behalf of the public,” he said.

Councillor Lynne Christiansen said council promised the public they would create a court watch committee and they should follow through.

Council opted to proceed with creating a court watch committee, voting to instruct City staff to search for volunteers for the committee. However, council did not specify when that search should take place, with several councillors suggesting staff should wait until after the pandemic to advertise. Councillors Downie and Bujtas were opposed to that motion. Councillors Christiansen, Cordeiro and Evan Ramsay were in favour. Councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller was not present at the meeting.

Rezoning halted at 5008 Agar Ave.

Earlier this year, council agreed in principle to allow the north half of 5008 Agar Ave. to be rezoned from commercial to light industrial, but after receiving a request to reconsider from neighbouring property owners, council opted for a different course of action.

The property was recently purchased by Westland Resources, a forestry consulting company, which plans to use the north half of the lot to expand its business (the south half is home to the former Misty River Tackle, Hunting & Archery building).

At the time, city staff recommended rezoning the north half to light industrial because that is the zone that allows for technical consulting firms such as Westland Resources. Several adjacent property owners indicated support for the rezoning.

Subsequently, the City received correspondence from neighbouring property owners who essentially approved of Westland Resources’ planned use for the property, but were concerned that rezoning to light industrial would open the door to more intrusive industrial uses (if the property were sold to a different company, for example).

City Planner Tara Irwin said an alternative would be to keep the property zoned commercial, but create a site-specific exemption that allowed trade contracting and technical consulting firms, which are normally restricted to industrial properties.

Council opted to pursue that alternative.

New shed at Heritage Park Museum

Anna Glass, curator of Heritage Park Museum, appeared before council seeking permission to construct a storage shed at the museum.

The museum grounds may be large, Glass said, but it lacks storage space, resulting in things like gardening tools being stored alongside museum artifacts.

“Because our storage spaces are filled with operational items, some of our artifacts do not have adequate room for storage, which can lead to the decomposition of these artifacts,” she said.

Glass said she and the museum board had originally planned to purchase and install a pre-fabricated shed, but that would be in sharp contrast to the many historical wood buildings on the museum grounds. Instead, they plan to build a shed with cedar siding to match the other buildings. Council approved the building of a new shed. Details such as the size of the shed and cost estimates are yet to be determined and will be presented to City staff for final approval before construction. Funding for the project will come from the museum’s capital projects budget and will be completed in stages.

Debate continues about food truck regulations

Currently, food trucks are limited to parking four hours on public property.

Changes to the time limit had previously been discussed at the May 25 council meeting, when staff recommended increasing the time limit to six hours (among several other amendments to food truck rules.) But council asked staff at that time to further revise the recommended changes.

At the most recent meeting, Irwin proposed increasing the time limit to five hours, so food truck operators could have half an hour at either end of the time window for setup and teardown.

Additionally, she proposed setting a noise level limit of 65 dB for generators on the food trucks. She said she didn’t expect bylaw officers to actively enforce this limit, but it would provide an objective limit in case the City received a noise complaint about a food truck.

But Councillor Brian Downie expressed doubt that 65 dB was a reasonable limit, saying some diesel generators could be as loud as 80 dB. Councillor James Cordeiro agreed, pointing out that noise from moving vehicles is often much louder than 65 dB. Council asked staff to further revise the propose regulation changes and the matter will be discussed again.

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