In addition to what has already been reported in the Brandon Sun, the following is a summary of the city council meeting held May 5:
• Council received a presentation from local resident and environmentalist David Barnes on the Assiniboine Food Forest, a newly formed charitable corporation that wants to be responsible for management of the protected space of forest in the city’s east end near Barnes’ property.
The organization has been aided by the City of Brandon over the past number of months in its efforts to create a Protected Spaces Network to care for rare or threatened ecosystems within city limits through the use of permaculture.
Barnes explained that the group plans to focus on turning the 40 acres of city land near his home into a self-sustaining public nature preserve and would like the city’s endorsement to begin activities. Council thanked Barnes for his presentation and indicated its interest in visiting the forest area prior to providing an official endorsement.
Later in the evening, Coun. Len Isleifson (Riverview) gave notice of his intent to bring forward for debate at the May 20 council meeting a motion for the management of the noted property to be granted to the Assiniboine Food Forest group.
• Coun. Shawn Berry (Linden Lanes) updated council on the activities of the Keystone Centre board of directors.
Berry noted that discussions are ongoing in regards to planned roof repairs on the facility, but no start date for the repairs has been determined.
He also noted the Keystone Centre is moving forward with the management of its own fundraising initiatives, including an upcoming New Year’s Eve gala, and is branching out in its marketing efforts and the offer of naming rights for additional areas of the facility.
• Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) provided an update on behalf of the audit and finance committee, which met recently to set its upcoming annual meeting schedule and future topics for discussion. Fawcett noted that the committee will provide a 2015 budget mandate to city administration by the end of June to allow preliminary budget planning to begin.
• Council agreed to defer two soon-to-be-expired citizen appointments to the Renaissance Brandon board of directors until after a review of the organization’s business structure is complete. The current membership will remain on the board of directors for the benefit of the consistency during the review process.
• Council received a report from city treasurer Dean Hammond on how surplus funds are allocated to reserve accounts each year.
The report had been requested by Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond), who had asked that research be done on whether council could be given the ability to decide where surplus money should go each year.
Hammond’s report noted that annual surpluses are common, most often because of supplementary tax revenues, the sale of surplus city land and properties, or because the city’s operating budget has seen more revenue/less expense than anticipated.
He pointed out that municipalities are not allowed to run a deficit and are also legislated to have any surplus placed into reserves.
Hammond stressed that the current process of having city administration decide how surplus money is allocated should not change, noting that such authority is granted within the Municipal Act, and annual budgeting is a complex matter that requires consistency in its management.
However, Hammond suggested treasury will change its practice to update the committee on where surplus money has been placed.
Councillors accepted Hammond’s recommendations, though some commented that council needs to be aware of potential surpluses throughout the budget year, not only after the fact, and council should at least have some say as to what priority reserves should be funded.
• First reading was given to a bylaw for the purpose of rezoning a portion of property at 1910 Bell Ave. from residential single family to parks and recreation, as well as a portion of land at 1910 Hamilton Ave. from agricultural and residential single family to parks and recreation. The proposed rezoning would allow for the continued development of
the Oakridge Estates neighbourhood.<t-3.5>