December 2, 2022

Donalds Hobby

World Finance Reviews

2021/22 money matters, along with Zoning Bylaw discussed.

Meeting business included receipt of Sechelt’s audited 2021 financial statements.

The following are briefs from the May 4 regular council meeting: 

Meeting business included receipt of Sechelt’s audited 2021 financial statements.

In a presentation by audit firm MNP representative Cory Vanderhorst, it was noted that the municipality’s ratio comparing asset to liability values was rated “good” by the auditors and had improved from a ratio of .92 in 2017 to 1.85 in 2021. He explained that this means Sechelt has funds available to finance future operations. Another financial health indicator Vanderhorst spoke of was the value of Sechelt’s accumulated surplus and financial assets, which rose to $165 million in 2021, up $6.1 million from the previous year. This number includes all of the municipality’s assets.

The meeting saw granting of three readings of bylaws for the 2022-26 financial plan, 2022 property tax and municipal sewer rates. Sechelt is looking to increase its portion of property taxes by 8.08 per cent over 2021 levels. Three percent of that increase would be dedicated to the capital reserve program for infrastructure improvements. Municipal sewer rates are set to rise by 6.2 per cent from last year’s levels. That translates to residential properties on sewer paying about $36 more and costs for sewer for commercial properties rising by $76.

Zoning Bylaw

As he voted for adoption of the first reading of Sechelt’s replacement of its Zoning Bylaw from 1987, Coun. Alton Toth said it was “so weird to not hear the word amendment in the motion. It’s a new day in the District of Sechelt.”

Director of planning Andrew Allen noted that minor changes had been made to the proposed bylaw version that was reviewed by committee of the whole, including the addition of a table explaining accessory building floor space areas, which had been omitted from the original draft.

In addition to first reading, the council motion passed refers the draft bylaw to further public and stakeholder review processes.

Sport court sharing removed 

Council rescinded an Aug. 2021 resolution creating a single shared-use tennis-pickleball court and two dedicated pickleball courts at Hackett Park. Staff recommended that one permanent tennis court remain and one be transformed into two pickleball spaces, based on a joint statement issued by Pickleball BC and Tennis BC indicating that shared courts were not conducive to either sport.

In presenting the proposed change to council, parks manager Jayme Anderson said that consideration should be given for new racket court space in new park developments as there is an identified lack of outdoor courts on the Coast.

McLean opposes Woodlands Phase 2 plans

Coun. Matt McLean was the lone vote in opposition to the issuance of a development permit for 29 new single-family home lots in Ripple Way’s Woodlands subdivision’s second phase. He noted that the location was within infill area 6 in Sechelt’s Official Community Plan. He said that he would not support “more single family homes in an area where the community envisioned higher density.”

Planner Ian Hall explained that the proposed plan was in keeping with the existing zoning for the West Porpoise Bay neighbourhood site.

Funds to expand Arrowhead operations sought

Council endorsed staff’s proposal to apply to BC’s Strengthening Communities program’s second call for applications to get $60,900 to allow Arrowhead Centre to open for five rather than four days per week.

Sechelt’s is eligible to apply for up to $122,000 in 2022 program funding, based on its population. In response to a question from Coun. Toth about other opportunities to apply, finance director David Douglas noted that the application deadline for the second intake has passed (council endorsed the application after the fact) and he is not aware of whether a third intake will be offered.

Kirkland Centre rent review

Helping Sunshine Coast Hospice Society by providing rent relief on Sechelt’s Kirkland Centre will be explored at a future council meeting, after staff provide details and options. Hospice’s executive director Tess Huntly, made a request for reconsideration of the annual rent of $5,400 as a delegation at the meeting.

Huntly pointed out that Sechelt charges other non-profit and community service groups as low as $10 per month to rent space in District facilities. She noted that if rental relief was provided, the funds freed up would be applied to programming that is provided free of charge to Coast residents.

Other values that the society brings to the community through tenancy at the Davis Bay location include ongoing maintenance and cleaning. It has also invested about $45,000 in a renovation of the centre, including new kitchen appliances, flooring and other updates.

Sechelt’s director of finance confirmed that the District pays the utilities at the site and that the current rent being charged offsets the charges for sewer, water and other local utilities at the site.

In a related item, council received correspondence from Gibsons at the meeting, requesting that the elected representatives support a Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) resolution to the province to recognize the place of hospice societies in palliative care and bereavement support. The request goes on to ask BC as well as local governments to develop a model providing for annual operational support for community-based hospice societies.

Coun. McLean noted that he would consider voting in favour of the resolution when it comes forward at the UBCM convention in September.