District of Kent council met for its final meeting Wednesday night before municipal elections see a new mayor – mayor-elect Sylvia Pranger – and at least two new councillors take seats around the table.
Council discussed emergency planning, speed signs and more.
No backup generator for Municipal Hall
A motion to authorize the purchase of a natural gas emergency generator for Municipal Hall was defeated Wednesday night after councillors Duane Post and Darcy Striker said it didn’t seem like a necessary purchase.
The generator was estimated to cost $76,289 – slightly above the amount allotted for its purchase in the District’s 2016-2020 Financial Plan.
A generator would keep local government services open in the event of a power outage, argued mayor John Van Laerhoven. In the past – and as it stands now – a power outage leaves the building without lights, heating or computer systems therefore the office closes to the public and staff is sent home.
“If people want information here, we have to be a functioning unit,” said chief administrative officer Wallace Mah. “If people need us for whatever reasons, we would like to be there for them.”
Van Laerhoven agreed and said, “the District and public is well served by an office that is able to function in a power outage.”
The generator also would have allowed the Municipal Hall to serve as a secondary Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in the event of an emergency – a location for evacuated residents to safely gather. The primary EOC is located at the Agassiz Fire Hall.
But councillor Darcy Striker said if the weather is really that bad, maybe the office should shut down. “I would rather get [staff] out of here, get them going home before they can’t get home,” he said. “It’s like insurance, no body really likes to buy insurance…I just don’t think, at this time, we really need it.”
Ultimately the motion was defeated on a vote.
Speed reader board signs
Speeders on Morrow Road will be a hit with a reality check after the Distict’s new speed reader board signs are installed along the busy road.
In the 2018 budget, funds were allocated for the purchase of the two solar powered signs and in September the District ordered them for just under $16,000. However, ICBC will fund $5,000 towards the boards if they are installed before March.
While staff said they haven’t received as many concerned calls about speeding this year, they agreed there was a number of locations where the signs could be beneficial. Director of engineering Mick Thiessen suggested some streets in his report including:
- Agassiz Avenue
- Fir Road
- Mountain View Road
- McCallum Road
- Morrow Road
- Highway 9 (at the entrance off of Haig Highway)
Councillor Sylvia Pranger asked if the District could lobby the provincial government to pay for the speed signs on Highway 9, but CAO Wallace Mah said that might be tough.
“In the past we have lobbied the province for the signage boards along the highway and they were very reluctant,” he said.
After it was determined that the signs are move-able – a process that would take staff about a day to do – council decided to put them on Morrow Road near the school zone, and move them if need be.
“Morrow Road may be the best location for sign installation as it has a school zone, frequent pedestrian use, five marked crosswalks, increased development and the highest expected traffic volumes in the municipality,” Thiessen’s report read. “In 2014, traffic volumes on Morrow Road were highest in the municipality, measuring at 2,200 vehicles per day…”
Pranger agreed it was a good spot.
“As far as complaints that I’ve personally received, it’s always on Morrow Road,” she said. “I think it might be a good way for us to test the usefulness of the reader board and the reaction the public has to them.”
Snow angel program
Council was pleased to receive the news that the Snow Angel Partnership Program will be ready to go by Oct. 31.
A partnership between the District of Kent, the Village of Harrison and Agassiz Harrison Community Services, the program will help residents connect with neighbours who may need help clearing residential drivewats and sidewalk frontages.
“It is a friendly program that will rely on the principal of neighbours helping neighbours, fostering a strong community,” read a staff report from Jenny Thornton, director of community services and projects. “Snow Angel signs will be developed for residents to pick up and place in their window, signaling their interes to receive help from a friendly neighbour.”
Councillor Sylvia Pranger said the program was much needed.
“I actually had someone in my neighbourhood who had just moved there [with] no idea what to do. I think this is a really good project and I’m happy the District is working with Community Services to make this a reality.”
The program will be continuously evaluated to determine any tweaks or changes needed.