New standards a concern

Highlights from the October 20 Midway council meeting included discussion of new provincial fire service regs.

Village of Midway Administrator Penny Feist answers a question from councillor Gary Schierbeck while councillor Dick Dunsdon looks on.

New minimum training standards for firefighters have come down from the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Village of Midway council heard at its regular meeting on Monday.

“This standard is for every fire department,” said Councillor Marguerite Rotvold, “but not every fire department is at the same level as the Lower Mainland or large cities. That’s what’s different. That’s what is difficult to accept in this here. I think we really have to lobby for some changes or adjustments for small municipalities.”

Administrator Penny Feist said Midway Fire Chief Walter Osellame has concerns with the document, including the lack of consultation with municipalities.

“Small communities are getting pounded hard,” said Councillor Dick Dunsdon. “If this kind of stuff keeps coming down we won’t have a fire department.”

Council agreed to meet with Osellame to draft a letter to the MLA and the minister responsible in Victoria. Copies will also be sent to municipalities who attend the UBCM Small Talk Session for Small Communities.

***

Dundson brought up the subject of low log inventory in the log yard at the Vaagen mill.

Mayor Randy Kappes said that the West Boundary Community Forest may move their logging plans ahead a year and begin logging in 2015. Councillor Darrin Metcalf noted that Vaagen had recently extended the hours of operation for their truck scales to accommodate more loads per day.

Councillor Gary Schierbeck suggested that council approach the ministry to see if more local fibre could be directed to Vaagen. Kappes said the question had already been asked.

“There is not a lot we can do,” Dunsdon admitted. “We have got the community forest, we participated in the Boundary Sawmills consortium to the best of our ability.

When contacted for a comment, Vaagen Canada senior log buyer Chris Waters said the company had purposely run a just-in-time inventory for the log yard, “Which is really dangerous at this time of year. We were hoping to have a little bit of inventory built up but we had some issues with cutting permits. So we had to basically go back and start from scratch again and it put us about three months behind on a pile of wood that we were expecting.”

He said that logging crews had been rained out of two company jobs in the north Okanagan. “Instead of getting 40 truck loads a day we are down to 20 or 25,” Waters said.

Waters said the hours at the scale have been increased because we are hauling longer distances. “We have taken this time to do some recovery stuff. Trying to keep as many people working as possible. But it is probably three weeks away from a steady flow, weather and permits permitting.”

He said employees had lost some shifts over the past month and that temporary short-term layoffs might be expected to continue for the next three weeks.

***

A request from Lynn and Wayne Wickens that the village trim a tree on the boulevard next to their property was turned down. Feist told council that two policies exist dealing with trees: the first governs removal of danger trees and the other the planting of trees on village property. She said neither applies in this case.

Council voted to inform the Wickens that the village does not have a policy that applies in this case, but council is open to them trimming it at their own cost.

***

Dennis and Carol Collins made an offer to purchase a village lot next to theirs on Central Avenue for the price of $47,500 plus costs involved. Council passed a motion to accept the offer to purchase, subject to public notice and advertising requirements.

***

Dave and Birdie Lyle wrote council asking for permission to book the arena for Aug. 13-17, 2015. Council agreed, subject to a review of costs and rates.

***

Following the expenditure of over $8,000 from gas tax revenue for lighting upgrades to the community hall and museum, council has asked staff to prepare a review of the policy which requires all expenditures over $3,000 to come to council for approval.

“I should have probably brought it to council,” Feist admitted, but she added that she gave her approval in consideration that energy audits had been completed and reviewed by council on the buildings, that gas tax funds would be used, that it was in keeping with councils’ direction that village buildings be more energy efficient and that the work came under a rebate program.

She explained that under the recently signed gas tax agreement, the village would be receiving $75,000 annually for the next 14 years.

Council will review the spending policy

***

The next meeting of Midway council is scheduled for Nov. 3—the time will be announced with the agenda the Friday before; 6:30 p.m. if there is a delegation; 7 if none.

 

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