In addition to what has already been reported in the Brandon Sun, the following is a summary of the Brandon City Council meeting held Dec. 16.
• Council heard a delegation from TransCanada representatives Darren Paquin and Matt Quail with respect to the company’s proposed Energy East pipeline project, a portion of which would run through the western Manitoba area. Paquin and Quail explained their oil, natural gas and power generation company’s plans to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada. Their presentation noted that approximately 70 per cent of the project’s infrastructure is already in the ground, but will need conversion, and that construction on the pipeline is still a number of years away, following a comprehensive community engagement process.
• Council received an update on the annual operations of non-profit group Riverbank Inc. from board chair Bernie Chrisp. He updated council on the continued remediation of the Riverbank Discovery Centre and the Assiniboine River corridor following the 2011 flood, noting the group’s 2012 year-end resulted in a $300,000 deficit, but it has since made ground, thanks to donations and increased grant revenue. Chrisp noted the group has dubbed 2013 as the “The Year of the Tree,” thanks to the replanting of approximately 1,200 trees as part of the flood recovery effort. Chrisp added that the redevelopment of Eleanor Kidd Gardens has been a partnership with Alternative Landscaping and other local companies, which will allow the group to reopen the gardens in June — two years ahead of schedule. A request from Chrisp on behalf of Riverbank Inc. for the forgiveness of the $200,000 loan due to the City of Brandon in 2017 will be considered by city council at a later date.
• A presentation was given to council by Grade 6 students from Linden Lanes School, who recently participated in the city’s third annual Waste Reduction School Challenge. The students took turns sharing their classroom challenge experience, during which they learned how to divert waste like bags, bottles and plastics from the landfill.
• The evening’s Community Question Period saw resident Trever Surgenor come forward with a concern regarding how members of the Brandon Police Service or city staff are perceived to interact with the city’s homeless population, specifically when they are encountered under the Eighth Street bridge. Mayor Decter Hirst advised the matter would be looked into by administration for followup.
• Coun. Garth Rice (South Centre) provided a brief update on behalf of the board of directors of the Keystone Centre, which continues to see success with its renewed food and banquet services, especially during the Christmas holiday season.
• Coun. Corey Roberts (Rosser) updated council on the recent Renaissance Brandon Inc. meeting, during which members discussed the vitalization of the Fraser Block on Rosser Avenue, where a dermatologist business will be setting up shop. Roberts also noted that members of the Strand Project fundraising committee were present at the meeting to confirm the project had been rejected for federal funding through the Cultural Spaces program, but indicated they would be moving forward to rework their business plan. Decter Hirst, who also sits on the Renaissance Brandon board, noted that the funding commitment from Renaissance Brandon, which had been promised to the Strand Project based on federal approval, had been advanced from the province and will now be returned. Roberts added that Renaissance Brandon is looking at contingencies to have the upfront investment it made to the Strand Theatre building’s stabilization recovered. A delegation from Renaissance Brandon chair Shaun Cameron will be scheduled for the Jan. 6 regular meeting of council to further address the matter.
• Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) provided an update on the work of the city’s mosquito abatement committee, which met recently to consider proposed changes to the city’s mosquito surveillance and abatement policy. Montague noted the committee is seeking clarification from the province on what the city can and cannot do with regard to adult mosquito control efforts, but hopes to have recommendations on changes to the policy to council for consideration in the spring.
• Council approved an accommodations tax grant of $10,000 to the Manitoba Planning Conference Steering Committee to aid in the Brandon and Area Planning District’s hosting of the 2014 Manitoba Planning Conference event, set for Feb. 26-28 in Brandon. It’s anticipated the 2014 edition of the conference will generate 440 hotel night stays — a 10 per cent increase from previous years.
• Council approved a request of loan forgiveness from the Manitoba Percheron Belgian Club for $25,000 (and any accrued interest). The group hosted the 2012 North American Belgian Championships VII event with break-even financial results, and has since indicated to the city that it cannot pay the outstanding loan, which has been verified by the city treasurer. In forgiving the loan, councillors noted that such a measure was included in the original 2009 council motion, and therefore needs to be carried through. The outstanding funds will be covered off through money in the city’s dormant Major Events Hosting Reserve, as per the 2009 motion of council. The reserve, which was used prior to the evolution of the Accommodations Tax Funding Reserve, will then be eliminated, with any remaining funds to be transferred elsewhere in the city budget.
• Council considered a motion brought forward by Montague that the city form a committee to review the capital funding portion of the accommodations tax reserve and that he, Coun. Shawn Berry (Linden Lanes) and Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) be appointed to sit on that committee. Montague noted that while the current capital funding structure of the accommodations tax addresses event-based funding, he would like it to be modified to address venues and facilities that host events year-round — such as the Keystone Centre — that could benefit from capital funding, even if they are not tied directly to an event. Councillors rejected Montague’s suggestion, with some calling Montague’s committee “self-appointed” and noting there is already an administrative review mechanism in place and it should be allowed time to undertake such a review. Montague’s motion was subsequently defeated, with Decter Hirst noting that an administrative report on the matter is scheduled to come back to council in the spring.
• Council granted approval to the City of Brandon 2014 interim budget, which allows revenues, expenditures and transfers within the city’s general fund ($75,220,546) and utility fund ($15,958,000) to proceed on an interim basis until its final adoption of the 2014 budget. The proposed 2014 budget will be deliberated by city council on Jan. 10-11, and is scheduled to be adopted in April. Council also granted approval to city borrowing for general operating expenses in 2014, if needed, to a maximum of $10.35 million as per Municipal Act requirements.
• Council approved the following citizen appointments to the Brandon General Museum & Archives board, for two-year terms to commence Jan. 1 and expire on Dec. 31, 2016: Barbara Andrew (reappointed), Gordon Wallman (new appointee) and Kenneth Jackson (reappointed).
• Council approved the following citizen appointments to the Board of Revision for one-year terms, beginning Jan. 1 and expiring Dec. 31: Donald Cornell (Chair), Ronald Powers, Wesley Shewchuk and Gary Walker.
• Council approved the appointment of Lorraine Pompana as a citizen member on the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples' Council, for a one-year term to begin Jan. 1 and expire Dec. 31.
• Council approved three citizen appointments to the Poverty Committee for one-year terms of office, beginning Jan. 1 and expiring Dec. 31: Betty Peloquin, Katy Singleton and Kim Longstreet.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 28, 2013