Have I mentioned I’m busy? It’s not necessarily something to be proud of. Being busy is often the opposite of being productive, and usually can’t be sustained, but there is a lot of stuff (good and bad) going on that is taking away from my time to sit down and write these. So a little late but here is my report on what we did on Monday with a fairly light Council agenda:
We started by moving the following items On Consent:
2023 Revenue Anticipation Borrowing Amendment Bylaw
The City spends money all year round, but about half of our income comes in a very short period when people pay their property taxes. This means the “cash on hand” the City has to pay day-to-day bills is cyclical, reaching a nexus at tax time. We also want to limit the amount of “cash on hand” we have, as we would rather be providing services with that money (or earning investment income in reserves). So we have a line-of-credit with a bank just in a case we have a sudden need for cash at the time when our cash on hand is low. We don’t use it much, but it is better to have it there than to default on a bill because of a short-term crunch. This borrowing authority relies on the City passing a Bylaw every year to approve it. This is that Bylaw. We approved giving it 3 readings.
Appointment of Chair to the Accessibility Advisory Committee
In part related to changes in Provincial regulation, the City is reconstituting an Accessibility Advisory Committee. We approved the Term of Reference in the last meeting before the Election, we are now appointing Councillor McEvoy to serve as the Chair. Councillor McEvoy has been increasingly open about his mostly-hidden disabilities, and his lived experience will serve the community well here.
Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Request: Front Street from Tenth Street to McBride Boulevard – Metro Vancouver Sewer Inspection
MetroVancouver is going to do late-night sewer inspections along Front Street. This happens at night because the traffic disruption is reduced, and because the flow in sewers is reduced late at night, allowing the temporary and necessary shutdown of the sewer pump station for the work to be done. We are granting a nighttime construction noise variance for five nights.
Proposed 2023 Schedule of Council Meetings
The proposed schedule for Council meetings in 2023 would include about two meetings a month except July August and December that each have only one meeting, totaling 21 meetings. This is consistent with the meeting schedules for the last few years, while recognizing there is an ability to add an emergency meeting if need be. Set your calendars!
The following items were then Removed from Consent for discussion:
Community Grant Program: 2022 Highlights and 2023 Program Adjustments
The City has a generous grant program for organizations providing a variety of community-building services. In 2022 about $1 Million was given out through 105 grants to 93 organizations. These are a variety of social service, childcare, sports, environmental, arts and festival organizations that make our City a richer place to live.
This report called attention to many of the successes that came from grants in the last year, and looked at some adjustments to the grant process to make it work smoother. In essence, one of the three intake periods was not working very well due to a variety of challenges, including weirdness of trying to organize grant application and approval during the summer months. Staff is recommending we reduce the intakes to two: the “regular” fall one and the in-cycle late spring one. Council approved unanimously.
Q3 2022 Capital and Operating Performance Report
This report outlines quarterly changes to our annual Capital Budget, 5-Year Capital Plan, and overall 20222 Operating Budget, based on progress on various capital projects in the City. There are a few details in the Capital part here (the pool might be delayed a bit, the Queensborough Substation may come in under budget, the AMI meter upgrade in the Electrical Utility may go over budget, etc.) but pending further reports, there is only a small adjustment ($771K, or 0.4% of the annual budget) that will be offset within the existing 5-year plan.
The operational budget update is a good-news-bad-news thing. There are reports from each department and overall we are looking at surplus numbers (revenue exceeding spending more than anticipated) but a lot of that is a result of us being short staffed and unable to deliver on a lot of programs and projects because of that shortage. Council voted unanimously to make the required adjustments.
We had a couple of pieces of New Business which were both brought forward from a previous closed meeting:
Recruitment 2023: Appointment to the New Westminster Library Board
We have a Library Board as constituted by the Provincial Library Act. As per the recommendation, we appointed the current Chair to another 2-year term.
Release of Motion regarding School Capacity and Child Care options
We received a letter from the School Board a couple of weeks ago, and also received a delegation speaking to concerns around the movement of childcare spaces from Downtown Schools where the capacity is needed for teaching spaces. We are responding to the correspondence with some shared concerns, and setting the stage for working together to address childcare capacity concerns downtown.
We had presentations, delegations, and a few readings of Bylaws, but the list above are the decisions made by Council in the meeting on Monday. We had a few referrals to staff coming out of delegations, but I will report on these when they get back to Council with staff reports.