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Council notes

Taxes are going up by an average of 4.1 per cent.

That increase is $25.04 for the municipal portion for the average house assessed at $164,260. This is based upon the average assessment increase of 4.3 per cent. If a home’s assessment increased by more than the average, the tax increase is more than the average; if it is less, the tax increase is less.

This year, however, due to the provincial government’s introduction of a new $200 northern and rural homeowners’ benefit, the average house, whose assessment increased by the average amount, will see a decrease to their total property tax bill.

Council also reviewed a document showing the 2010 taxes paid in communities with populations ranging from 6,000 to 50,000. Quesnel residents, based on an average house, paid the least taxes (both total property taxes and general municipal taxes) of 50 communities according to figures provided by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

Coun. Oakes was pleased with the results.

“We have the lowest tax rate,” she said, adding how difficult it was to arrive at a number that continued to provide the municipality with quality services while investing in infrastructure.

“That’s something we can be proud of.”

Finance chair and Coun. Sushil Thapar was opposed to the movement.

“Yes we are calling it the lowest, but we should be looking at what kind of industry and income people have,” he said.

“[We] don’t have comparable equal working [factors]. You have to look at a lot of different factors.”

The city mails out property tax notices in mid May.

Travel policy

City Council has tabled the motion to pass the travel policy.

April 26, council received a travel policy report where the following motions were passed: That all council travel expense claim forms be filed on the city web site. AND That all city employee expense claim forms be filed on the city web site.

The decision to table the motions is due to the request from city manager John Stecyk for more time to work through technicalities. There are capacity limits with respect to business processes such as IT infrastructure, finance staff and web posting staff that restrict administration’s ability to support the motion.

Stecyk has asked for more time to deal with these issues.

“When we went from a paper agenda to electronic, I remember it being said that it would cut down on a lot of work,” Coun. Ron Paull said.

“I have trouble believing we have a capacity issue. We wouldn’t have more than two claims per week. The city of Vancouver had done the same thing, and most municipalities do. We are in the back of the pack of being transparent with funds.”

Coun. Sushil Thapar also added his agreement with what he sees as a lack of transparency.

“Toronto has been doing it since 2007,” he said.

“You can see any claim. All expenses are transparent. Every penny spent is on the website. The public should have the chance to see how money is spent.”

Oakes stood up for the decision to table the motion.

“I agree from a transparency point of view but from an IT point of view we need to make it work,” Oakes said.

“We need to find out have much it costs to achieve the results. [There are] financial repercussions of moving forward with this.” Coun. Laurey-Anne Roodenburg agreed.

“The issue is how we’re going to make it so it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money,” she said.

“We need to figure out how we can do it with the most efficiency and the least costs. Staff are busy.”

Paving plan


Council approved five paving projects worth approximately $350,000 to come from the Quesnel Works: Capital Reinvestment Program in 2011.

The five projects approved are:

Johnston Avenue, from Lawlor Drive to Lambert Street.

Gardner Street, from Johnston Avenue to Graham Avenue.

North Fraser Drive, from Elliott Street to Early Avenue

Baker Drive, from Sugar Loaf Park to Tingley Drive

Valhalla road, south of Jason Place.

City auction scheduled

A silent auction, May 17, 18 and 19 will dispose of surplus items in the City’s possession. Items, including bicycles, electronic equipment, tools, jewelry, clothing, sporting goods and office supplies are available.

On-site viewing opportunities, with all items sold in as-is condition.

Other news

Open fires are restricted in the Cariboo Fire Centre’s jurisdiction as of May 2. The restriction will be in place until Sept. 30 or until further notice. It prohibits fires larger than one metre by one metre, burning stubble or grass, or using fireworks or burn barrels. City residents, however, are restricted year round to fires of one half-metre by one half-metre in a safe, backyard fire pit.

Quesnel River Pulp. mill manager advised The city of plans to replace  three heat exchangers with new, high-efficiency models. The goal is to reduce the mill’s reliance on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Quesnel Quilters Guild presented 10 handmade quilts to be sent to Shiraoi as part of the tsunami relief effort. The Guild, with about 50 members, gives away 50 quilts per year for various causes.

Members of the Shiraoi Twinning Society presented City Council with official documents commemorating the 30th anniversary of Quesnel and Shiraoi’s twinning relationship.

Marie Skinner signed the documents, stating “I would like to thank the Quilter’s Guild for their donation to the Sendai relief.”

She also noted that our city’s twinning has been called “the most successful twining in the province of BC. I really appreciate the support of the residents of Quesnel and am looking forward to our delayed trip to Shiraoi next year and for 30 more years of successful twinning.”