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Poetry, agricultural land, Choquette rezoning, and more: Nelson city council April 7, 2014

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
April 8th, 2014

The April 7 regular meeting of council meeting started with Cultural Development Officer Joy Barrett announcing that it is Poetry Month, and two local poets, Susan Andrews Grace and Emily Hoff, read from their work. Emily is a 14-year-old LVR student from Ymir who won second place in the youth category (grade 10-12) in this year’s Kootenay Literary Competition.

Agricultural Land Reserve

Council agreed to take a special resolution to this week’s annual meeting of the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) asking that the AKBLG write to the Minister of Agriculture, the premier, and other ministers, asking that “regions that wish to remain in the Agricultural Land Reserve Zone 1 not be arbitrarily categorized as Zone 2 and that the provincial government accept applications from local governments that wish to remain classified as Zone 1.”

In other words, council will be asking the government to allow rural areas to opt out of the government’s proposed new two-tier agricultural land reserve system, and remain in Zone 1 which would mean their ALR status would remain the same as in the past.

Choquette Avenue re-zoning

Following a lengthy public hearing earlier in the evening at which many Rosemont residents criticized many aspects of the project, council discussed and approved an application from West Creek Developments Inc. to amend the zoning at 2000 Choquette Avenue to develop up to 30 residences.

The current zoning of P1: Park, Open and Recreational Space will change to R2, Medium Density Residential.

Council priorities

How does council decide what issues have highest priority? Why does updating the business license by-law take precedence over whether or not people are allowed to keep bees in the city, for example? In an attempt to prioritize issues, council maintains a Bylaw and Polity Priorities document, in which upcoming projects and issues are ranked in importance.

Council adopted an updated priorities list, and it is attached below.

Pay rates for non-union city employees

“Excluded staff” refers to staff members who are not members of any union. This generally includes managers and a few human resources staff who deal with personnel and union issues from the management side.

How much should such people be paid? How should council decide how much to pay its city manager, for example?

Council discussed how the pay of excluded staff needs to keep up with inflation and must be competitive so that the city can attract good people. And there must be a notable separation between the salaries of managers and the unionized people they manage. (Lack of this kind of separation is called “compression.”)

Council adopted a policy on how to determine salaries. The policy refers to a salary grid but there are no actual dollar amounts in the policy attached below.

City manager and council responsibilities for employment decisions

When it comes to salaries, negotiation of contracts, overtime, employee benefits, adding new positions, terminating staff, assigning work, and other human resources functions, where is the line between the responsibilities of the city manager and council? Council adopted a new policy that draws that line, and it is attached below.

Annual Tax Rate bylaw

Financial officer Colin McClure introduced the 2014 tax increase bylaw, which provides for an average 1.5% tax increase across all property classes. The bylaw was read for the third time and will come to a later meeting for final adoption. The bylaw is attached below.

Financial plan bylaw

Council adopted the 2014 Financial Plan bylaw, which is the result of council’s budgeting process for the year. The bylaw is attached below.

Fees and Penalties

Council adopted a bylaw that updates and amends application fees and charges for a variety of city services including development, licensing, and building. See Fees and Charges, attached below.

Council also introduced a bylaw that institutes penalties for contravening certain provisions of the Official Community Plan, the new Zoning bylaw, and the new Off-Street Parking and Landscape Bylaw. See Bylaw Enforcement, attached below. This will come back for final adoption at a later date.

Computers and cell phones

Council adopted a policy that outlines what staff and elected officials may and may not use city computers for, and some guidelines around the use of cell phones.

“This will bring us into the 20th century,” observed Mayor John Dooley. “Someday we will get to the 21st century.”

Categories: GeneralPolitics

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