Residents of the 100 block of Norton Avenue have submitted a petition to the City of Kimberley and City Council for additional construction on the 100 block.
In April, Council voted to have staff proceed with the completion of construction as planned, however there was an agreement that staff would engage with residents in discussion around the construction. The City’s plan for the 100 block as presented was to pave a part of the road, complete thatching and boulevard restoration. Any additional construction would be outside of the City’s budget and therefore require a local area service. A local area service allows residents and the City to deliberate plans, discuss budget, and share any added cost of construction.
The petition states the following:
“To facilitate a timely response to the City’s confused, conflicting and incomplete documentation for the rehabilitation of the 100 block of Norton Avenue, we the residents are making our position clear. In summary, we expect:
1. Reinstatement of the sidewalk, curb and paved roadway at a minimum.
2. That the City is responsible for the financial cost of the repairs, not the residents.
3. A vote by City Council for full replacement.”
The petition goes on to say that communications have been problematic with the project, and that residents were initially told the sidewalk would be replaced, only to find out later that in fact it does not meet the budget.
At a regular Council Meeting on Monday, May 14, 2018, Council voted to receive the petition, however after much discussion it was clear that they would not be reconsidering a resolution as per the petition’s request, but rather further communication around a local area service will take place.
City CAO Scott Sommerville says that after meeting with residents, he is surprised to see that their petition was for the City to complete the requests at their expense, especially since the petition is past the 30 day deadline.
“I wouldn’t say that the discussions haven’t been successful, but that residents thought they would try this approach first,” said Sommerville. “However, I do feel we have covered this; I let them know in the meeting that I thought the exact question they’re asking you [Council] to consider had been considered over 30 days ago. I was surprised that they took this approach.”
Councillor Kent Goodwin asked if any progress had been made on costs and preferred options with some of the residents.
Somerville replied, “Absolutely. Staff were bending over backwards to prepare for local area service and different ways of distributing the cost between the residents and the City; different options as far as standard of service available to them. I have to commend staff for that, I thought both the engineering department and finance did a great job at putting those options together, and corporate admin did a great job of outlining the petition process for local area service.”
Councillor Albert Hoglund, who was the only one to vote against receiving the petition, said he would be doing so because he believes that a different motion should be put forward to either agree with the requests or deny them.
“They [residents] obviously haven’t agreed with Scott and staff, and I think the City should be doing something for them, that’s why they brought this back…” said Hoglund.
Councillor Sandra Roberts agreed saying there is no sense in prolonging the process if eventually the neighbourhood will ask for the same thing again.
Mayor Don McCormick says that it comes down to costs. The petition’s request would cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200,000, he says. He added that the City “doesn’t have the money” and it goes against their policy of trying to manage costs for repairs to infrastructure.
“As we have recommended to them, the only path forward to increase that [budget] is through the neighbourhood improvement tax. I think all of that was made very clear, but we can do it again,” said McCormick, referring to the petition process.
There was much discussion around the process for local area service versus what the neighbourhood is requesting.
McCormick explained that what was expected out of the last meeting with residents was an agreement, of at least 50 per cent, that an option would be picked as part of the local area service. From there, Council would decide what share the City would want to contribute.
“That was the petition we were expecting to get, the petition that came is wasn’t so,” he said. “It was residents requesting the City absorb all of the costs. Theres no real negotiation on that, it’s more of a statement of desire on their part and we receive it as such.”
Sommerville clarified saying that it is a request for reconsideration on the decision that was made back in April. He added that the timeline for the project to be completed, no matter the decision, is shortening as time goes on.
Corporate Officer Maryse Leroux explained the process in detail.
“There was a resolution on the minutes of April 9, where Council directed staff to proceed with the completion of the reconstruction of the 100 block of Norton Avenue, as illustrated on the conceptual drawings to the Senior Manager of Operations staff report,” said Leroux. “That diagram did not include sidewalks, curb, or paving the parking zone.
“That was more than 30 days ago. Under the rules of reconsideration, a Council member can put a motion forward to reconsider a resolution at the next meeting and the Mayor has a 30 day right, under the charter, to put a resolution forward to reconsider. Those rules exist just make sure that Council doesn’t keep changing their decision, and in the end staff is also able to act upon those decisions.
“In this case, they [staff] just finished the tender process. If we want these things to move forward, we need some stability in decision. By reconsidering the decision that was made on April 9, you’re basically going against your Council procedure bylaw and the community charter.”
Councillor Nigel Kitto says that he is confident in staff’s plans as presented, despite the fact that not everyone will be completely satisfied.
“I do trust staff and that the job they have put forward, that we’ve agreed to, is adequate,” said Kitto. “It’s not perfect, it’s not going to make everyone happy, but it’s safe and they will finish it up quite nicely. If [the neighbourhood] wants any extra from that, we’ve sent them a clear message that they have got to pay for it.”
The Mayor ended the conversation by stating that it may be difficult for the residents of the 100 block to come to a consensus on what exactly can be done, however he believes that a compromise will be made.
“We want to be able to work with the neighbourhood to come up with a compromise that is affordable for the neighbourhood and affordable for the City of Kimberley,” he said. “I’m very confident that we’re going to get there, but we’ll have to go at that one more time.”