Last Tuesday was particularly interesting for a new councillor like me. It began at 9 a.m. with two well-attended public hearings about a proposed 22-unit multi-family rezoning for a property at the corner of Hellesen* and PRH, with several speakers both for and against.
It was my first experience behind the council table on a controversial issue that people feel passionate about, and I can tell you council (even the experienced members) feels that responsibility. Speakers made several good points for and against. My instinct is to say yes to everybody, but a firm decision has to be made at some point, and council is the duly elected body to make it, for good or ill. These decisions can have a big effect on people’s lives: In this case, we will be deciding yes or no on a process that the proponents have been pursuing since 2005.
With the public hearing over, council can now officially receive no further information about the project, which will come back to a decision at an upcoming meeting.
Then Citizen V set up his camera for the regular council meeting for a full-agenda regular meeting. Here’s the full meeting (almost three hours), with my personal highlights listed below:
32:25 — I was able to supply a bit of environmental background around TFN’s request for a letter of support for their proposed Run-of-River hydro project at Winchie Creek, near Kennedy Lake.
47:55 — A thorough debate about whether to recommend that the LCLB approve a liquor licence amendment for Jamie’s Rainforest Inn, extending liquor service from midnight to 1 a.m. It was a solid half-hour discussion, ending in a 4-3 vote to not recommend the extension.
1:38:50 — The 45-minute process awarding of the district RMI grants. GRANT APPLICANTS, there’s much to interest you here — clues as to what the requirements are, what council is looking for, what is judged desirable and what less so. Listening to this will help you with next year’s applications, but if you don’t have the time here are a few (overgeneralized) pointers:
- Grants that launch a new project, or explicitly serve to expand an existing project, are well received.
- Projects that help extend the shoulder seasons (i.e. outside of our June-July-August busy season) are well received.
- Grants that have been running for a long time are generally expected to have found alternate, sustainable sources of funding.
- It’s important to target your grant to the requirements listed in the application. RMI grants, especially, are quite restricted in what they can support.
- It’s important to send in a complete application, including required items like financials, board list, past reports due, etc. Several applications were missing pieces.
Thanks once again to Citizen V, who feels strongly enough about openness and transparency of municipal government to voluntarily come to the meetings to record them, then take the time to index them and post them to the Tofino Council YouTube channel.
The experiment is far enough along that the view numbers start to tell a story. At this moment (1-May), the nine recorded meetings, with their views:
28-Apr — 33 views
14-Apr — 77
24-Mar — 54
10-Mar — 84
24-Feb — 67
10-Feb — 40
27-Jan — 178
13-Jan — 124
9-Dec — 155
Citizen V’s experiment begs the question of whether the district should be videoing and broadcasting the meetings ourselves. The question has come up a few times already, and there are some significant financial and logistics issues — but that’s a blog post of its own.
[* Edit 2-May: corrected spelling of Hellesen Drive. Thanks, keen-eyed Mayor Osborne!]