Cumberland council crunches numbers

Councillors debate various financial issues at Monday night meeting


Cumberland council gave first reading Monday to a property tax rate bylaw that calls for a 4.53 per cent increase, of which 3.9 per cent would come from growth and .63 per cent from 2011 rate payers.

The expected impact is a 1.7 per cent increase to the average household, according to a staff report. However, amounts collected for other taxing authorities decrease the amount to about 1.2 per cent before homeowner grant and utility fees. The latter increased eight per cent in 2011. The net result is estimated at a 3.1 per cent increase from last year pending school and police tax rate changes.

Council also gave first reading to the 2012-2016 financial plan bylaw with an amendment to include $2,350 for a temporary off-leash dog park proposed for Village Park. The idea is to renovate the Little League baseball area for a temporary off-leash site, which staff said was the most requested addition to Cumberland parks in a 2007 survey. The Village Park ball diamond is a separate, partially-fenced area, used in recent times by dog owners, not baseball players.

“It would give them a place to go legally,” animal control officer Darby Arseneault said.

Coun. Kate Greening likes the idea but feels a more suitable location is needed for the long-term.

The budget bylaw also calls for:

•council travel and conference expenses increased by $5,000;

•a $4,000 grant-in-aid increase to the museum, on condition funding is spent on facility/capital improvements;

•$4,000 from downtown amenity funds, $662 from Friends of the Village and $1,500 from the Cumberland Motorcycle Roundup for a Village Square water fountain;

•Up to $12,000 of the Chinese Cemetery donation be used for cemetery maintenance.

The costliest projects for 2012 are the Liquid Waste Management Plan ($153,000) and the Official Community Plan review and revision process ($113,000). Cultural centre building repairs ($42,500) are the most expensive item in a list of recreation, events and parks projects totaling $671,330.

Council also approved motions to use $35,000 of the Slegg Improvement fund for a Welcome to Cumberland sign, and nearly $19,000 from the Cumberland Recreation Society for a new skateboard park. If the latter is not approved within two years, council may allocate funds to an outdoor recreation project for youth.

A committee of the whole public information/consultation session will be held Monday at 5:30 p.m. The bylaws will then come back to council April 23 and May 14 for additional readings and final adoption.

•A citizen project dubbed VAST (Village Art in Streets) proposes to create public art at intersections, as is done in Portland, Boston and other American cities decorated with street murals, chalk drawings and painted lamp posts. The group would like to start with street murals in a residential neighbourhood.

VAST member Debbie Bowman said the project would be a form of expression that promotes community building, relationships and social networks. It would also calm traffic as drivers would slow down to observe the works of art and increase tourist traffic, Bowman added, noting the positive impact of murals in the Island community of Chemainus.

“Everybody young and old gets involved,” Bowman said. “It’s really wonderful.”

She suggested Camp Road would be an ideal place to begin, though Coun. Roger Kishi noted the pending water main replacement in the neighbourhood.

•Greening was the lone councillor to not support a Copeman motion to consider a 50 per cent discount for village staff who use the fitness studio. The motion arose from a letter from Kyle Jorgensen, a public works crew member who used the studio after work but was told staff are now required to pay. He feels staff should be entitled to use the studio free of charge to promote better health and safety for the village. Mayor Leslie Baird noted fitness can decrease stress levels in the workplace.

“I can’t support it,” Greening said. “I think they (workers) can afford to pay it themselves.”

•A request to waive the noise bylaw for the Big Time Out summer music festival was tabled until May 15, at which time approvals could be in place.

•A committee has formed to program Car Free Sunday June 17, part of a proposed two-week Bike Festival that will include the 12 Hours of Cumberland mountain bike endurance race June 16 and the B.C. Bike Race on the July 1 weekend.