Council divided over two issues

Council met and discussed participation in the FCM conference, the disposal of a surplus garbage truck, and spot zoning.

Council met Feb. 2 and among the topics were whether to participate in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference, the disposal of a surplus garbage truck, and spot zoning a parcel of land on Sullivan Way.

When asked, engineering and operations manager Don Hounsell had nothing to report on the water leak situation.

FCM Conference

Councillors were split on whether to put money towards attending this year’s FCM conference in Winnipeg.

It ended in a 4-2 vote, with councillors Jonathan Van Barneveld and Rick Lundrigan opposing the recommendation to send one representative. Coun. Dawn Potvin was not present.

Houston has not participated since 2009. The conference can cost an attendee up to $915, and Coun. Rick Lundrigan took issue with that.

“I still question how much we can get out of this particular FCM as far as the benefit for Houston as a whole,” said Lundrigan.

Mayor Shane Brienen and Coun. Tim Anderson, however, support sending someone from council, pointing to the networking opportunities.

Coun. John Siebenga asked what the benefits of attending the FCM meeting were, to which the mayor responded:

“There are going to be several announcements this year on infrastructure and grants.

“Much like UBCM, when we go to UBCM, we have a lot of the announcements of what’s going forward the next period, that’s what will happen at FCM.”

Brienen also pointed to the gas tax as being an FCM initiative.

Anderson added that it provides networking opportunities that, “would otherwise be unavailable to us.”

He elaborates that the meeting allows representatives to meet grant providers and learn the processes of applying for a grant.

Council mulls surplus fire truck disposal

Council was also split between two options put forth by fire chief Jim Daigenault.

The fire department asked whether council would like to auction off a surplus 1979 fire truck with 31,048 miles on it, estimating a $5,000 value, or if council would rather donate it to Firefighters Without Borders. Council passed a motion to dispose of the fire truck using the first option, with councillors Jonathan Van Barneveld and John Siebenga opposing.

Chief administrative officer Michael Glavin noted that selling the truck would not yield much in return after considering the District’s labour requirements. Donating it to Firefighters Without Borders would pass the onus onto them to handle it, at no cost to the District.

Spot zoning for CityWest

Council has passed the adoption of two bylaws that will make way for 2080 Sullivan Way to host CityWest’s telecommunications equipment.

According to the rezoning application, CityWest wants “to place a permanently mounted brown-coloured modular communications equipment building housing a fibre cable distribution system.”

During public hearing, Coun. Van Barneveld relayed a comment he heard from his constituents that they would rather not have it brown.

“They didn’t like brown,” he said. “They said there were too many other brown buildings up there, but that’s all they had to say.”

Spot zoning, while not recommended by the District, was done because the property is located on a telecommunications corridor.