Town Meeting Minutes – January 20, 2014

In Attendance:

Parks Canada – Caroline Marion, Elaine Lemieux, Melanie Kwong, Michael St-Denis, Michael Vanderveen;

FRAA/FCC – Sally Watson, Steve Christie, Craig Chapman, Kathryn Cameron, Chris Allen, Helen Dickinson, Devon Brook;

Public – 15 Members

Motion to approve agenda by Craig. Motion carried.

1. FRAA report: Recap of FRAA/FCC Meeting January 13, 2014

  1. Christmas report: thank you to Santa and volunteers;
  2. Trying to meet with MP Wilks to discuss highway issues and levels of service;
  3. Working on constitution and bylaws update;
  4. Media project: Facebook page with 421 likes/followers, website now live with lots of good information;
  5. Recognition by National Geographic as secret ski destination, Parks Canada Promotions Officer Karin Smith involved in project, thank you to Karin;
  6. Field HIP: fresh paint, new floor, paint on walls; final report press release to be sent to local media;
  7. CBT grant proposals for further improvements: don’t limit yourself, we need people to present ideas, commit to involvement and drive the machine;
  8. Upcoming events: ukulele choir practice Thursday, January 23 at 7pm, Cameron residence; Yoho Blow this weekend, events, dance, pot luck supper; lots of Hall rentals booked over the next few months; Kicking Horse Ski Club supper scheduled for February 22 – dinner and social evening, no silent auction; sustainability workshop agenda development to figure out larger event February 26, 2014 as precursor to Field Utility Board Meeting;
  9. Sean Coubrough will start Field kids hockey this Friday at 4:30;
  10. Chamber of Commerce organizational meeting date in process, maybe first week in February.
  11. Skating room note: 95% of users are not cleaning up after they use the room; return skates to the shelf after use, leave equipment at your own peril, please respect the common use of the facility.

2. Treasurers report: see files attached to this message.

Helen Dickinson reported that Sue Williamson will offer the Early Childhood Development program. There will be some flexibility in scheduling because Sue is on call with School District Number 6 in Golden.
Kathryn will give receipts for Canada Day cakes and Christmas potatoes to Sally immediately.

Motion by Kathryn to accept Treasurer’s Report as presented, Craig seconded. Motion carried

3. Parks Canada Reports – Townsite Manager – Ms. Caroline Marion 

1. Dumping of Large Items at Line-up:  Residents are reminded that any large items left at the solid waste bins will either be removed by the Highway Service Centre or a contractor and that the costs of this extra removal will be charged to ratepayers.  The HSC is not equipped to pick up large items such as mattresses or old TVs.  The Town of Golden has facilities that will accept this type of material.

2. Plastic Recycling Bin: This spring, a plastics recycling bin will be added to the line-up.

3. 2nd Quarter Report: The 2013-2014 water and sewer rate was frozen at the 2012-2013 rate, 30% lower than required to cost-recover the 2013-2014 budget for water and sewer services.  Parks Canada will subsidize any deficit for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Consumption is up 4.5% from the same period last year, from 11,415 cubic meters to 11,931 cubic meters.  Residential consumption is up 2.4% while non-residential consumption is up 7.2%.

Water expenses are at 51.6% of forecast to the 2nd Quarter, Sewer expenses are at 54.2% of forecast, and solid waste expenses are at 46.4% of forecast.

4. Field Sustainability: A preliminary meeting will take place with council on February 26 to discuss next steps with respect to sustainability discussions for the community, including how to engage the larger community in future discussions.

5. Highways – Ms. Melanie Kwong and Mr. Michael Vanderveen: Melanie thanked the community for taking the time to let us know about concerns about snow removal in Field, for your patience as we worked things out, and for your appreciation of the work of Highway Service Centre staff.

Melanie thanked the community for moving cars to enable us to complete the cleanup.  The recent snow events included a perfect storm of staff shortages, equipment failure, avalanches, and storms in multiple locations in the Mountain Parks.   The Highway Service Centre, which services all the mountain parks, has now been able to relocate staff temporarily to help in our field unit while we continue to recruit operators. An as and when contract has also now been set up with Gottler Brothers to deal with circumstances where HSC staff are not able to maintain emergency access in the community in the event of competing priorities during storm events. Townsites will be paying for the cost of Gottler coming into town to do snow removal. Parks unable to confirm a time frame as to when Gottler could be called. Sean Coubrough will advise Parks as to what is required.

We hope these initiatives will go a long way to improving things.  Please continue to contact Elaine Lemieux or Caroline Marion to advise of unusual issues in the community, such as failure of the mail truck or suppliers to enter town because of snow removal issues.

FCC Response: Thanks Melanie, from Steve. We appreciate the work Parks Canada has done to solve problem in the short term. There is still a lingering feeling that the department is underfunded to provide adequate service. Service levels really went downhill when Boulder Creek compound was closed. The landscape here demands greater level of service than currently offered. Emerald Lake area really suffered this Christmas. Boulder Creek Highway Maintenance was closed as part of consolidation and forming new Field Unit. Budget cuts have really impacted service standards. At last meeting in November Miguel noted that level of traffic drops off drastically west of Lake Louise, but this is not a realistic view. Visitors and residents still need service so people can get around. Sally stated that we did not have any service in town from the cold snap at the beginning of December until we started to complain just before New Years. There was a 3 week period where we had continual small accumulations of snow and no service whatsoever. It was not until December 30th after numerous complaints that we see any action. Sally also addressed school bus issues and concerns. People in west deserve same level of service as received in the east. Every year we discuss and talk about it, not because people are not doing their jobs but because the whole situation is under resourced.

Melanie shared that Parks Canada is not in a position to reopen the Boulder Creek Highways facility and made a distinction between reopening the compound and having additional capacity for snow removal in Yoho National Park.

Michael shared that although the HSC strives to meets its guidelines, a storm which dumped 60 cm of snow in the area means that the guidelines are not being met anywhere. Staff are doing the best with the resources they have – the Trans Canada Highway is always the priority, followed by the hills up to the Chateau Lake Louise and the Lake Louise Ski Area.  Crews are directed to the highest problem areas on any given day.

The HSC is having trouble recruiting staff, which other jurisdictions are also experiencing.  2 people were hired out of a process that interviewed 14 candidates for example.  The perception that Lake Louise residential areas are addressed first is inaccurate – 75 to 80% of the time Highways crews are Field before we get to Lake Louise.

Michael shared that the HSC continues to look at its boundaries:  Banff crews are now coming further west and Kootenay crews are going all the way to Castle Mountain, in an effort to take some of the pressure off the Lake Louise crews.

Michael added that Field is not designed well for snow removal or access by large vehicles such as mail trucks.  We do have a snow map which indicates where snow will go – most of the time that works except when operators are quickly going through town to open up emergency access.

FCC Response: Craig noted that nothing has changed in terms of a long term solution.

6. Visitor Experience:  Mr. Michael St-Denis

Michael was pleased to hear that Steve and Kent from Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce had connected with respect to Field’s interest in potentially setting up a local business association or Chamber of Commerce.  Michael added that he looks forward to supporting the community in that initiative.   Karin Smith, Promotions Officer, remains willing to host a workshop on how Parks works with a chamber of Commerce, at the request of council.

Karin was instrumental in getting Kim Grey out to Emerald Lake to do a piece on Yoho National Park.  Kim is an award-winning travel blogger.

This week, Michael will provide council with revenue and expense numbers on the Field VRC Centre. A formula in the spreadsheet was incorrect and needs to be repaired.

Melanie added that she intends to increase Parks Canada’s connections with tourism organizations in BC and will share any opportunities to connect with the Field community as they become available.

Community Response: Tree removal at Natural Bridge, along the Yoho Valley Road and in Kicking Horse Campground was not communicated to residents or visitors. Project has big impact on experiences available like skiing and snowshoeing, and people need to know what is happening, when and why. Is the contractor responsible for clean-up? Can we count on better communication in the future?
7. Law Enforcement:

Not able to attend, too short notice. Community policing:  Melanie indicated the conversation is well-timed as Field Unit is working on service agreement. Please give specifics to Caroline so this can be included in the discussion. Craig noted that the next meeting Town Hall Meeting will be on March 10. Jim has been asked for report on what Law Enforcement personnel have observed, discuss trends in the community and provide general explanation of structure of law enforcement operation. To be added as agenda item for Field Utility Board.

4. Friends of Yoho: Helen Barry reported that while Deb is on holiday, Mike is filling in and really enjoying it!  Spiral Tunnel Model not yet complete. The contractor was here before Christmas and cleaned up the pack rat mess but hasn’t returned to finish the electrical work and join the two sections together. No new projects this year; the Friends want to finish the Spiral Tunnel Model before starting anything else.

5. Field Fire and Rescue:

  1. 25 call outs since November 1, lower than during same time period last year but same number of hours due to flagging responsibilities waiting for contractors to arrive.
  2. Tender closed for leased vehicle to replace vehicle damaged in October 31 incident; short term contract, looking at long term fix, chassis was written off but tank still operational to some point. Need to do pump test by professional.
  3. Looking at new equipment.
  4. Hazmat operations course this past weekend at school with success.
  5. STARS originally scheduled to come out tomorrow to show off a new helicopter but it has been grounded because of a chipped windshield. Orientation with BC Ambulance Service to take place when STARS able to come out.
  6. Received resignation from Tom Tovey. Field Fire and Rescue wants to thank him for years of dedication.
  7. Fire and Rescue concerned about snow removal. 2nd avenue not accessible to fire truck. Thanks to Water Crew for keeping the hydrants clear.
  8. Christmas was quiet this year.
  9. Helen Barry asked if semis get charged for the cost of Fire and Rescue time when they are at fault.  Sean: Depends on RCMP and if they attend, if chain up sign is on, driving to conditions, many factors to consider.
  10. Bruce Bembridge noted that after the accidents the towing companies shut down the highway to retrieve the wrecks and asked if there is a protocol that dictates when they can or cannot close the highway, i.e. time frame that doesn’t interfere with when people are coming home and get held up for long time. Mike Vanderveen says RCMP can put tow ban in place. If RCMP lay charges, they don’t necessarily let other organizations know because there is a criminal investigation going on.
  11. Kim Chapman asked if there is a police report for the October 31, 2013 crash. Sean Coubrough said he has received a copy of the report and will share it.
  12. Helen Barry noted that where the new divided highway ends there isn’t sufficient signage. Mike Vanderveen agreed and said a project review recognizes it is inadequate and new signs are in the works. Helen commented that the one small sign is definitely inadequate. Mike Vanderveen said new signs, including end of divided highway sign, will definitely be in place by summer. Helen expressed that summer is too late; days are short now and visibility is poor – definite safety issue that needs to be addressed sooner than summer.

6. Round Table: Come to Yoho Blow!

PDF Version – Town Meeting Minutes – January 20, 2014

Financial Report

FRAA Financial Report – January 2014