COLUMN: Council meetings — you’re invited

From Nelson city councillor Michael Dailly...

I thought I would share information about the different types of council meetings held at City Hall.

Committee of the Whole (C.O.W.) meetings

At this meeting the public has an opportunity to speak to council on any subject. Council reviews and debates issues, however no voting takes place. Delegations make presentations which usually include a request for consideration.

This past month delegations included the Kootenay Rhythm Dragons Association who asked to partner with the city in developing a park area at the mouth of Cottonwood Creek.

The Central Kootenay Food Policy Council provided an overview of the work this new group is doing to provide a formal bridge between local government and food systems. Their goal is to develop our local food systems and strengthen our food security so that we can reduce our dependence on factory farming and long distance transport of our food.

The Nelson Community Band let us know that 2017 marked the Band’s 120th anniversary which will be celebrated June 2 to 4 with a mass community band event at Lakeside Park. We heard from a Nelson resident who helped to develop the Hendryx Street Forest Garden, a green space that demonstrates a sustainable solution to enhancing the ecology of this natural woodland site.

The Nelson Izu-shi Friendship Society updated council about the community delegation travelling to Japan to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Nelson’s sister city relationship with Izu-shi. Council heard a presentation from the Downtown Nelson Street Outreach Pilot Project. The work undertaken and the outcomes to date were outlined in a detailed report that identified issues and barriers as well as successes in connecting people with family support, treatment, health care, housing and employment.

Special Regular Council meetings

These are open to the public and usually take place before a C.O.W meeting. Council can debate and vote on bylaw changes and recommendations from previous C.O.W. meetings. This month we considered resolutions which will be presented to the Kootenay Boundary Local Governments Association.

Proposed resolutions included requests for a review of hospital taxation, contaminated sites, taxation reform regarding (vacant properties) and a review of asphalt and concrete pricing to ensure competitive pricing throughout the Province.

Special Council (Budget) meetings

These meetings are open to the public they usually begin at 9 a.m. and last all day. Recent dates included December 9 and 14, and January 13, 18, and 27, with a Budget Open House on February 27. Council hears from the managers from each department and reviews their proposed budgets for the coming year. This forms part of the operating budget of the city.

The Chief Financial Officer presents the capital budget which covers Nelson’s infrastructure assets, street repair and paving, water, sewer, facilities (city buildings), parks, vehicles and equipment, airport, library, police, fire and information services.

We review requests and determine what reserves are required to maintain these assets so that they remain in good repair. This asset management practice relies on long term planning often up to 30 year forecasting to ensure there are no shortfalls or surprises.

Council also approves staff allocations for project work in the various departments. One such example this year was to direct Development Services to reallocate staff to work on affordable housing issues including investigating adjusting fees levied on rental housing providers and developers of purpose-built rental housing and secondary suites to provide incentives which will create more affordable rental housing in Nelson.

Regular Council Meetings

These meetings are open to the public and start at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of the month. This is a very structured business meeting where council considers and debates new bylaws, bylaw amendments, a wide variety of request for decisions, staff recommendations, motions and resolutions. Recently council approved a variance to allow a sign on Baker Street that did not conform to our sign bylaw yet had heritage value. Council endorsed a grant application for a Wildfire Prevention Initiative, voted to pass the first three readings of a new medical cannabis bylaw and amended a bylaw governing the Cultural Development Committee.

Council debated parking fees and passes and voted to increase these fees to cover the rising cost of road maintenance.

Nelson City Council is comprised of six councillors and the Mayor. Even though we are all working to ensure that every tax dollar collected is necessary and used wisely, we don’t always agree, and that’s democracy.

I look forward to hearing from you and maybe seeing you at a council meeting soon.

For more information or to contact council members visit www.nelson.ca

 

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