During question period at last week’s (May 12, 2014) Greenwood council meeting Anglican priest Cathy Straume reported that the basement of St. Jude’s church was discovered to be flooded on April 25.
She said city crews had constructed a water diversion berm in the alley beside the church property in order to stop water from flooding the sewer lift station beside the ball park. The problem was made worse because the ground was frozen and the water didn’t soak in, instead it ran overland and flowed in through two basement windows.
She later told the Times that the congregation had decided to not press the city for damages. She said that some carpeting, thrift store clothing and sewing machines were damaged. However she said she will draft a letter to the city so they have something on file.
She said this is the first time that water had come into the church from this side of the building.
“It is an unfortunate circumstance and the city will endeavour to organize things so that it doesn’t happen again,” said City Administrator Robin Dalziel when asked to comment.
*** In an unrelated issue the city has sent the Anglican Church a letter under the unsightly premises notice process. The appearance of the community garden had been raised at the council table a couple times over the past few years. Straume said the last time there was a complaint the city okayed their fence and agreed to contact the church if there were further complaints.
“I believe everything is fine,” said Straume of the community garden site. “We did our regular spring clean-up two weeks ago. We are going ahead. I have never been able to find where a municipality could tell a church how it choses to minister in their community. If we were making a profit we would need a business license but as far as ministering goes—giving to the poor and helping people learn how to feed themselves—I think would be a really hard task for a city to stop. If we were off our property that would be another story.”
“I think we all have the same goal in mind and that moving forward is the way to go. I don’t think they really intended to set us back or slander us,” said Straume.
Greenwood council is going to try to leverage some funding from the WorkBC Job Creation Program (JCP) to get some labouring jobs around the city looked after. City officials have been meeting with Sandy Elzinga from Community Futures Boundary to consider the opportunity.
The program would provide unemployed individuals the opportunity to gain or enhance their skills. Participants would receive Employment Insurance and the city would be required to provide a full-time supervisor for the crew. Projects could include community beautification projects such as repainting of murals and signage as well as computer based-projects. Council voted to direct staff to proceed with the application.
“Small and steady increase in taxes means that nobody is surprised,” Dalziel told council when he p resented 2014 tax rate bylaw to them for approval. “While there is the potential for adjusting the budget so we would not have those tax increases, the objectives for the city over the last four or five years has been to keep tax increase at a steady rate of two percent.”
Councillor Darla Ashton spoke against an increase in the tax rate, saying that the increase amounted to only $10,000 and arguing that council could find a way to trim that much.
Dalziel told council the increase is equal to about $20 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
The finance committee chair is Councillor Colleen Lang and she said that not raising taxes now would result in having to raise them even more later.
The two per cent increase was carried, with Ashton requesting her no vote be recorded.
“Budgets are always a tough process,” said Mayor Nipper Kettle. “Unfortunately unless we can get some major industry in the city the only way to do it is to raise taxes. You try to keep them down as much as you can. It is a difficult choice.”
Dalziel reported that the city is in the process of renewing business licenses and has found that about 15 to 20 of the estimated 60 to 70 businesses in the city did not have business licenses. Letters have been sent to all those affected.
Last November’s idea of adopting a crosswalk flag system enjoyed support by Greenwood council at the time and staff was directed to come back with more information. But the province has said the city would have to deliver the program as a pilot project at their own cost; and then the Municipal Insurance Association raise liability concerns. The program has now been shelved at the May 12 meeting of council.
The system would have plastic cylinders installed on both sides of uncontrolled intersections with several bright-red flags. Pedestrians would grab a flag, wave it to gain motorists’ attention, and then safely carry the flag across to the other side. The flags would then be placed in the holder on the opposite side of the street for the next pedestrian to use.
“If the city implements the flag program and someone is injured while crossing the highway, the city will almost certainly be brought into the claim and could face potential liability exposure for failing to properly inspect and maintain the flag system,” read an email from Susan Ackerman, risk management advisor with the Municipal Insurance Association.
Ashton said that council was being ridiculous in voting against the project. “It is absolutely ridiculous the bureaucracy it takes to get $250 worth of safety flags for people to walk across the street safely,” she said. “This council would have actually been proactive.”
“Council is more than able to go forward with the pilot project if they are willing to do so,” responded Dalziel. “I just provided you with the information.”
During question period at the end of the meeting residents raised the issue again. “The busiest crosswalk is by the credit union,” said Bob Smith.
“If they can’t put a crosswalk in there then they should put a policeman there to stop traffic. Why did Greenwood get so low on the list that they would take a crosswalk that had been there for years and take it out.”
Staff was directed to inquire as to when and why the marked crosswalk by the credit union was taken out.