Council briefs: Terrace restorative justice program plans to expand

Funding for seniors, property amendments among items discussed Nov. 25

Summary of key discussions from Monday night’s council meeting Nov. 25:

Restorative justice

Used as an alternative for young offenders, restorative justice facilitators Barbara Bond and Rev. Teri Meyer asked council for a letter of support, which would open up grant opportunities for the program to expand its current operations.

The Terrace Restorative Justice Program has been operating in Terrace for the last 10 years, and presents an opportunity for victims to face their offenders through a meeting monitored by trained facilitators.

Instead of going directly through the court system for a car break-in, for example, the person who broke into the car and the owner of the vehicle could try and come to an agreement through storytelling, Bond says.

“It is super important to be able to get into our youth prior to them seeing the criminal justice system. Our courts at this point in time are so stuffed with crime, that a lot of those crimes we could be addressing restoratively,” she told council.

There are many restorative justice programs in B.C., but the program here is one of the few that is run solely by volunteers, 15 of which actively participate. With the letter of support, the program could go after funding to hire a part-time paid staff member. Currently, the model is used to facilitate restorative justice for non-violent crimes, including break and enters and theft.

READ MORE: Learn about restorative justice

Six Terrace councillors voted in support of writing a letter. Coun. James Cordeiro voted against the motion, citing concerns around the restorative justice model.

“There’s really no teeth to it, even if you decide you’re not going to follow through with it — sure, it’s going to be referred back to the RCMP file which ends up going to the Crown, which ends up going nowhere,” Cordeiro says. “I don’t see it altering people’s behaviour much at all.”

Mayor Carol Leclerc disagreed, and put her support behind writing a letter.

“I think that the program is targeting youth, and it’s not the hard crimes they’re trying to help the justice system with. There’s an opportunity for some people,” Leclerc says.

Funding for seniors

At the end of the meeting, Coun. Brian Downie brought forward a motion for the city to apply for a Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) program aimed at designing an action plan around senior care.

The Age-friendly Communities program assists communities in B.C. with funding to support aging populations by developing and implementing policies and plans, undertaking projects that enable seniors to age in place, and facilitate the creation of age-friendly spaces. The last time the city applied for the program was around six years ago, Downie says.

Council approved the motion to submit an application for the program. The deadline to apply for the 2020 intake is Jan. 17.

READ MORE: City to prioritize senior care as needs grow

Broken tree

A split, broken tree overhanging a neighbourhood laneway has caused some safety concerns for nearby residences.

After conducting a site inspection following complaints, the city says the tree presents an immediate danger to pedestrian and vehicle traffic, as a large portion of it could easily fall if winds were strong enough.

The city had given the property owner at 4515 Park Ave. five days to remove the tree, with the last day being Nov. 25. Council approved for city staff to issue a Nuisance Action Order to the property owners, meaning the city would remove the tree at the owner’s expense.

When Coun. Sean Bujtas asked why the matter was being brought to council and not addressed internally, director of development services David Block says wording in the city’s current bylaw required council to decide on the matter, but that could change if its updated in the future.

Bringing more to the table

Council agreed to write a resolution of support to changes to the city’s Community Resiliency Investment Program (CRI) for 2019.

The CRI is intended to reduce the risk and impact of wildfire to communities in B.C. through community funding and supports, and is tied to the department’s FireSmart program.

Originally, Terrace fire chief John Klie says the funding they requested to cover a table top exercise in conjunction with the regional district was underfunded.

“Since then, we’ve decided to extend the presentation not just to local government, but also to our neighbouring First Nations and our major corporate citizens, such as the school board, CN Rail, BC Hydro, Northern Health … just to name a few,” he says.

The contractor, Westland Resources, is rewriting the grant to show these changes. The grant application will be submitted by Nov. 30.

READ MORE: FireSmart program launches in Terrace

Property amendments approved

After a highly-attended public meeting, the city has approved zoning and community plan changes to the property at 5136 McConnell Avenue.

The 0.5 acre property is located on the northeast corner of McConnell Avenue and Marshall Street on the Bench. In 2002, a sanitary sewer system was not serviceable on the property, making it ineligible to subdivide. Now that services are available, the owner is looking to change the zoning of the property from Rural Residential to Neighbourhood Residential to accommodate plans for a new subdivision.

Neighbouring residents did not object to the proposed amendments, but did express concerns about activities occurring on the property. The city says the bylaw officer is looking into those concerns.

Single-residential permits at 10-year high

Construction of single-family homes in Terrace continues to rise.

So far in 2019, the city has issued 216 permits across all categories, valued at $25.8 million. That’s almost $4 million more than the year-to-date totals last year.

Thirty of those permits come from single-residential construction, valued at $9.9 million — the highest amount the city has seen in that category for the last 10 years, Block says.

“We’ve seen a huge jump in the number of constructed dwellings but also in value,” he says.

Twenty-one permits in total were issued in October, valued at $836,000, compared to 23 permits issued over the same period last year, valued at $2 million.

READ MORE: Residential construction skyrockets in Terrace

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