May 21 GPC Early Thoughts

Pretty basic stuff on the agenda for GPC tomorrow. As always,  some thoughts on the various items up for discussion and decision  are provided in this post.

 Delegation

First up is a delegation from the Victoria Airport Authority (the group who runs the Victoria International Airport) and President and CEO Geoff Dickson will be making a presentation on 2014 activities of the authority. The City’s new representative to the VAA Board, Eric Donald will also be part of the presentation. Looking at the composition of the VAA board it is interesting to see who has what powers to appoint/nominate board members:

  • Sidney = 2 seats
  • Central Saanich = 1 seat
  • CRD = 1 seat
  • North Saanich = 2 seats
  • Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce = 1 seat
  • City of Victoria = 1 seat
  • Province of BC = 1 seat
  • Government of Canada = 2 seats
  • District of Saanich = 1 seat

Where I’m kinda excited to learn more about the VAA, I’m also less than impressed by the information being provided to the Council for consideration tomorrow (May 21st, 2015). And I say this because the report for consideration is the basic 2014 VAA report to Nominators – as a result of the City having nominating powers for 1 board seat.  And because the report itself was prepared in December 2014 financial figures reported for 2014 are only forecasts.

Because I wanted more recent info than that I went searching through the VAA documents library and found convenient access to various reports.  Here for instance is the  CFO Presentation to their AGM that occurred on May 7th.

2015 1st Quarter Budget Status Report

This is a very basic report from the City’s Director of Finance regarding the status of various monies budgeted and spent during the 1st quarter of 2015. All pretty standard stuff. What I find annoying about it mind you, is that this quarterly budget report is not being presented with the other quarterly departmental reports that also come before GPC.

Would make sense if they all occurred together – wouldn’t it?

My other question about tomorrow’s report is where and how are the City Manager’s Assistant and the dedicated Council staff accounted is the City’s larger FTE scheme?

2015 Victoria 1st Quarter

Action Plan for Housing & Supports for Street Homeless People

This is a quintessential non-report report which says that staff are still working on a response to motions made by Council at the April 2 GPC  (and finalized at April 16th Council – see top of page 14) where they first discussed the issue of folks camping in city parks.

In particular, this report apologizes for a 2 week delay caused by presentations which occurred the other week (may 11th and 12th) from two Oregon groups and suggests:

These alternative housing models may provide a viable option for a segment of Victoria’s homelesss population.

To the City’s credit they actually taped the May 11th event.

That said, what good is an Action Plan (on what I’m not sure) when the 2015 budget has already been set? What previously approved projects will get bumped if new commitments are made (to what I’m not sure)? Also what about the additional costs required for enforcement related to current sheltering, an issue first raised by   staff back on April 2nd? I don’t think any of these have been or will be addressed tomorrow.

Related to this, I wonder if the media cameras will show up tomorrow? My bet is that this item will just go through on the consent agenda.

Growing in the City

This is a report from the Director of Parks and Recreation regarding Urban Food Production & Boulevard Gardening in the City of Victoria. It lays out a plan for the next year for engagement and other works necessary to ensure new guidelines are in place for the 2016 growing season. It all seems reasonable and consistent with the new strategic plan and OCP.

Urban Forest Management Plan Project Report

This is also a report from the Director of Parks and Recreation to provide an update on implementation of the Urban Forest Management Plan which was apparently adopted by Council in 2013.  The newest addition to this plan appears to be an Urban Forest Resource Analysis of Inventoried Street Trees prepared by the Davey Resource Group in September 2014.
According to this report

Victoria’s inventoried street trees (18,869) are providing annual benefits of $2,805,508 ($35.05 per capita). These benefits include energy savings, air quality improvements, stormwater interception, atmospheric CO2 reduction, and aesthetic contributions to the social and economic health of the community.

I fully imagine there will be quite the discussion tomorrow and I say this because Councillor Isitt kept trying to raise the issue of the Urban Forest Management Plan back during the strategic planning process. Nobody had any good responses to his many questions though – just promised that something is coming forward. I guess this is it.

Recreation Fees Bylaw Review

This is also a report from the Director of Parks and Recreation. From a municipal perspective it looks like a typical run of the mill item because fees are set by bylaws and bylaws need to be updated when fees are no longer adequate. That said, I fully anticipate some politicking on this tomorrow.

Community Mailboxes

This is a report from the Public Works and Engineering Department regarding the movement of Canada Post away from home delivery and towards community mail boxes. There was a timely article in the TC yesterday about this which briefly explored how municipalities have been battling Canada Post placement of mailboxes on public lands.

As someone who grew up with a community mailbox and has also lived in places where we had to go directly to the post office, I can honestly say that I’m not panicking like some others are. That said, I seldom receive mail and I’m not mobility impaired.

The staff recommendations for tomorrow are that Council:

a) Request that staff ask representatives from Canada Post to make a presentation to Council on the community mailbox transition.
b) Request more information from Canada Post regarding plans for community consultation on proposed locations, and post that information on the City’s website, to inform residents.

Of note is that the City apparently received a request from Canada Post back in January 2015 for preliminary approval of 31 proposed community mailboxes sites in the Victoria West neighbourhood. What happened in response to this ask was that Councillor Alto brought forward a new business motion on January 22, 2015 for “best practice advice” on implementation and cost management.

In an effort to find out the current status of things here in Vic West, I went again to the Canada Post website. After entering my postal code into their search box I was taken to a page which informed me that community consultation for Vic West (where I live) Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood occurred last fall and is already complete (results here). A TC article from November 12 2014 confirms that this “survey” has already occurred and also quotes former mayor Dean Fortin saying that Canada Post has already met with the City of Victoria.

Hence CP coming forward with a list of 31 proposed locations in Vic West I assume. The City should share this list of locations with us should they not?

Check out Councillor Alto’s Facebook post on the issue.

New Business

Continuing in the tradition of random council motions we have:

Cycling Network Implementation

This is a motion from Mayor Helps and Councillor’s Loveday and Isitt. It recommends that Council direct staff to:

      1. Issue an RFP for consulting services to review and enhance the cycling network, beginning with further analysis of public input received during the 2014 Cycling Master Plan update, and including identification of corridors and design of facilities on each corridor, with a view toward an interim report to Council on the proposed enhanced network and conceptual designs for each corridor in September 2015 and a final report to Council with recommended detailed designs for on-road facilities by December 2015;
      2. Re-activate a Technical Committee consisting of staff and members of the public to support this process of reviewing the network and recommending on-road facilities;

    1. Work with partner organizations, including the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, Bike Victoria, Women’s Everyday Bicycling (WeBike) Association and the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, to host a public information series in September 2015 on cycling facilities, active transportation and placemaking in the City of Victoria.

Where I’ve written previously of my confusion on Council efforts regarding plans to build cycling infrastructure, I’ll stay quiet today and see what happens tomorrow. I imagine the cycling guys will be there tomorrow and so I’m sure I’ll learn more then.

Presumptive Clause for First Responders

This is a thoughtful motion for advocacy by the City from Councillors Loveday, Madoff and Thornton-Joe. I assume it is in response to a very heartfelt presentation to Council on April 16th from Lisa Jennings, Paramedic and Founder of a group called “You are not alone”. I’ve pasted in the video below:

Closed Business

There are two items of closed business tomorrow:

  • Legal Advice/Fees and Taxes Authority
  • Disposition of Land/Fire Hall #1

It is this second one which led to me to tweet:

FireHall Tweet

Haven’t gotten a response from the Mayor yet~

Specific to this issue however I do just want to remind everyone that a Market Sounding for Fire Station #1 was issued to great fanfare earlier this year and supposedly closed on April 17th – as was also noted in this April 8th news item from the City website. Where the market sounding was to redevelop and enhance the existing Fire Hall, it’s hard to tell what’s happened since. Maybe they’ve found a whole other new site where they’ll build a new fire hall and a condo proposal be coming forward for 1234 Yates Street instead?

Just a thought.

 

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