Quesnel council approved a 2021 regular meeting schedule that will see more time spent on strategic planning.
The new schedule shows, generally, two regular council meetings per month, one North Joint Cariboo Advisory Committee Tuesday night meeting per month and one open Tuesday night, which will be used for council strategic planning sessions.
“This council in particular is desirous of having more strategic conversations and deliberate longer-term conversations, which I think is awesome, and we have a lot of very big strategic initiatives coming in front of us … so what this is, is a slightly different approach to our scheduling,” said Mayor Bob Simpson. “What it does is it pushes staff and ourselves, instead of having a 20-minute meeting and then a 45-minute during the month, we would make sure the regular business of council is focused and concentrated and free up the other Tuesdays for us to have a substantive strategic discussion.”
Council approved the schedule at its Oct. 20 meeting.
The ?Esdilagh First Nation is hoping to build and run a Class A abattoir on its reserve along Highway 97 between Quesnel and Williams Lake.
Project lead Erin Durrell asked Quesnel council for a letter of support for a grant application to the Canada Infrastructure Program – Rural and Northern Communities Funding.
“During this time of COVID-19 and rural economic decline, we recognize the increased awareness and significant needs in areas of local food security,” Durrell wrote in a letter to council. “The need for licensed slaughter and butcher capacity and access to another Class A inspected plant for the surrounding rural farms, ranches and communities in the Cariboo region has become even more apparent. This is also a project that will help enhance economic growth, job creation and prosperity within the community of ?Esdilagh itself and the neighbouring Cariboo region.”
Durrell says the project is in the “very early” planning stages, but they have met with considerable support already.
Council agreed to write a letter in support, with Mayor Bob Simpson noting “an abattoir has been a long-sought facility in our area,” and this project fits well with the work the City is doing around food security and the food innovation hub.
Council approved a new property disposition policy for lands abutting City property.
“The Community Charter provides the rules and requirements for municipalities disposing of lands,” Tanya Turner, the City’s director of development services, wrote in her report to council. “There is no requirement to make the sale of land available to the public, but there is a requirement to notify the public of the sale. In the case of land not made available to the public, this notice must include who is acquiring the land, the nature and term of the disposition and what consideration was received by the municipality for this land.”
Proceeds of land sales must be placed in a reserve fund for the purchase of other land, improvements or other capital assets. Some lands, such as parks, closed roads providing access to water and lands purchased with debt, must go to other special reserve accounts.
This policy is intended to guide the consideration for lands that are surplus properties with no strategic value to the City, explained Turner.
“This would include properties which do not have development potential due to size, geometry or other land conditions,” she said. “The most practical use for these lands would be to have them consolidated with an abutting parcel to limit future use, as well as avoid maintenance costs for the City. Last year, the City sold one such property along Abbott Drive and has a request to dispose of another along Baker Drive.”
This policy will allow City staff to review each parcel to confirm no City interest and negotiate with an interested abutting property owner the purchase of the abutting properties under the condition, in most cases, that it be amalgamated with their property, Turner told council, adding that each potential sale will come to council.
The City of Quesnel will be doing controlled burns for fuel abatement as part of its Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).
At the Oct. 20 council meeting, council supporting the burning associated with the Forestry Initiatives Program’s advancement of the CWPP, providing the burning meets provincial regulations.
The idea is to burn fibre that cannot be utilized for commercial purposes within City limits.
“Burning residual fibre on the fuel management projects is an important component to removing fuel build-up that could put property and other values at risk,” City forestry initiatives manager Erin Robinson told council. “For this reason, a component of open burning must be allowed within the City limits.”
Robinson told council this is concurrent with the fire chief, who is working with the forestry initiatives staff on this initiative.
The goal with the CWPP is full fibre utilization, but some debris needs to be burned onsite due to steep terrain, poor access or worker safety, explained Robinson.
“Full fibre utilization is the first goal, and we do that as much as possible,” she told council.
“One of the things our forestry staff is, I would argue, leading the way on this full utilization and demonstrating to West Fraser how to do full fuel utilization … so I’m pretty comfortable burning would be a last resort,” said Mayor Bob Simpson.