Peachland continues to have online Council meetings, although I would expect a return to in-person meetings soon. Online meetings can be a problem for public hearings about rezoning, when residents want to show up and be heard.
If you want to follow Council meetings, they are online for public viewing via Peachland’s website.
You sign on to www.Peachland.ca and take the “Watch Council Meetings” option. You can also watch meetings later by following the “To view archived meetings click here” option. That gives you a menu to select a particular meeting. Then you can view a list of the topics covered so you can select a particular item to view. The system allows easy public access to Council discussions.
The agenda for the February 8th meeting, did not suggest a long meeting but it did actually continue for over two hours. There were several interesting discussions without significant differences of opinion.
Director of Finance, Garry Filafilo, presented the financial analysis for the proposed sewer expansion project. If the project goes ahead it will provide access to the main sewer system for an additional 119 homes. However due to a significant increase in the estimated costs of construction, the charges that residents would have to pay are much higher than previous sewer projects. The total project cost is estimated at $6,494,884 with a grant application for $4,762,699 which leaves a balance of $1,732,185 to be paid by the 119 homes. These home owners would have the option to pay a one-time charge of $14,702 or pay an annual parcel tax on their property tax invoice. Borrowing the amount for a term of 25 years at current rates would result in an annual charge of $884. In addition, home owners would be responsible for the cost of the hook-up to their house, which varies but is typically several thousand dollars.
Beach Avenue patios
Director of Planning, Darin Schaal, presented a report on applications for extended sidewalk patios for the 2022 season. Restaurants are asking for direction so they can prepare appropriate site plans. In 2021 Council allowed extended patios and waived the fees to provide some assistance to businesses that were struggling with the covid restrictions. The staff report suggested agreeing to extended patios in 2022 but bringing back the license fees. Councillor Van Minsel was quick to speak in support of the patios but not in support of charging fees. He said that he has been in touch with restaurants and they still need help and suggested that fees be waived for another year. It was a view that was supported by other members of Council and the Mayor and that motion was passed.
Peachland’s ambulance service
Mayor Fortin brought up the issue of the Peachland Ambulance service. There have been changes in the wages that are paid for on-call service and that has affected the way the ambulance dispatch operates, It has become far more common that the ambulance that is based in Peachland, is actually in service for other communities. When the ambulance is not available locally for medical emergencies, the Peachland fire service is called into action. Whilst the fire department provides great service, it does put pressure on limited resources. The Mayor asked the CAO, Joe Creron, for an update. He said that he would look into the matter and report back to Council. He told Council that he was concerned about the additional expense for Peachland as the changes are a form of downloading.
Notice on title
The biggest debate of the meeting was about an issue that was not on the agenda but was raised towards the end of the meeting, by Councillor Condon. During the previous Council meeting on January 25th, a report gave details of excavations that had taken place at the property at 4510 Princeton Avenue without a permit. A report from the bylaw enforcement officer, Travis Nixon, had requested a notice be put on title and that was agreed. The owner, Caroline Richmond, had told Council that she intended to complete the work but was having trouble finding the necessary engineering support. In raising the issue again, Councillor Condon highlighted the concerns about the stability of the slope and the possible impact on a neighbour’s property. Councillor Condon indicated that the neighbours had been very patient but it was time for action to be taken, since two years had elapsed. In reply to these concerns, Director of Planning, Darin Schaal, indicated that for the district to take remedial action itself, it would involve a significant amount of staff time when resources are limited. During the debate members of Council had different views but shared a frustration about how difficult it was for the district to fix the problem. In the end it was the CAO, Joe Creron, who suggested an appropriate course of action. He told Council that he would contact the home owner and give the message that Council wanted to see some progress very soon. He told Council that he would provide an update at the next meeting on February 22nd.