Fort St. John city hall news in brief

Highlights from the Fort St. John city council meeting held Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.

NAPP to continue Condill Demolition

Council votes to continue demolition of the Condill Hotel with NAPP Enterprises, following a closed door meeting about its legal advice. But it also stopped short of approving a budget increase for the work pending further negotiations with the company to determine completion costs and a remobilization schedule.

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Read more by clicking here.

Read our full timeline of the Condill Hotel purchase by clicking here.

Crosswalk signal changes approved

Councillors voted to reprogram traffic signal controls so that pedestrian walk lights automatically signal when a traffic light turns green.

A staff report notes making the change on primary street crossings will “have very little impact on signal cycle timing.”

Side streets that cross primary streets are more complicated, however, the staff report notes the signals could be reprogrammed and automated “as long as the minimum green timing has not been exceeded.”

Mayor Lori Ackerman had wanted the walk signals automated as a matter of convenience for pedestrians, especially during winter months.

Assessments update

Fort St. John will have a tax base of $3.7 billion this year. That's down from $3.8 billion in 2017, according to an update by Scott Sitter from BC Assessment.

There were a total of 9,113 properties assessed in the city in 2018, with the general value of assessments at $3.7 billion, down from $3.8 billion in 2017.

Residential property values in the city declined to $2.5 billion in 2018, down from $2.7 billion in 2017. The value of the average single home in the city declined 4.6% year-over-year, from $387,000 to $369,000, however, the city still has the highest home prices in the north, Sitter noted.

Major industry assessments dropped from $33 million in 2017 to $31.2 million in 2018.

The city saw assessments rise for light industry, business, and recreational properties. Light industry assessments rose from $15.9 million to $17.6 million, or nearly 11%; business assessments rose from $1.07 billion to $1.11 billion; recreational properties rose slightly from $3.1 million to $3.2 million.

Ackerman asked Sitter to review the city's light industrial properties, saying the city believes there are properties assessed at that class that shouldn't be. Sitter said the assessments captures manufacturing and distribution facilities in the city.

The city saw $87.7 in non-market changes, mainly in residential properties, for this year due to new construction, development, and zoning changes. This year's assessment reviewed aerial imagery to help assessors determine whether properties had been improved, such as the building of new garages. 

Council will set tax rates later this year. 

Property owners who saw assessment changes lower than the average for their property class will likely see their taxes decrease. Those with changes higher than the average will likely see them increase, while those with no change will likely pay the same.

Transmission talks

Charles Young and Megan Harris from BC Hydro updated council on the Peace Region Electricity Supply project, being built to meet demands from natural gas exploration and industrial development in the region, mostly in the South Peace.

Hydro has proposed two 58-kilometre transmission lines to connect the Site C dam substation to the Shell Groundbirch substation. The selected route, a new right-of-way, is the shortest, avoids important First Nation sites and old growth forests to limit impacts on caribou, Young said.

Hydro plans to start building this summer and put the lines in service in 2021, pending a decision by the BC Hydro board, Young said.

Bylaws

Council approved Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw 2410 2018, an estimate of revenues and expenditures from 2018 to 2022. For 2018, the city estimates collecting $84.1 million in revenue, mostly from property taxes and other government monies. It estimates spending $61.3 million on its operating expenses.

Other business

• Council approved a design contract for renovations to the city's public works and grounds buildings to Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects Inc. of Vancouver for a contract cost of $134,800. The company was the second-lowest bidder for the work, and scored highest in the RFP process according to a staff report. The lowest bidder was Gridline Projects Inc. of Fort St. John, at $110,000, however, the report says the company had not completed sections of their bid, and did not have as much experience with capital projects as other proponents. 

• Council will write a letter to provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix in support of the BC Association of Farmers' Markets Nutrition Coupon Program. In 2017, the value of the program was $6,912 in Fort St. John, and helped low income pregnant women, families, and seniors buy fresh fruits, vegetables and produce from the local farmers market, according to the association.

• Council voted to support a $10,000 grant application being made by the Fort St. John and Area Senior's Care Foundation to the BC Hydro GO Fund. Council support is a requirement of the application process, and the foundation says the money will be used to expand its Meals on Wheels and Better At Home support programs.

• Council voted to support a $10,000 grant application being made by the Engage Sport North Society to the BC Hydro GO Fund. The society says the money will be used to to expand its sports discovery program for vulnerable persons in Fort St. John, Chetwynd, and the regional district. It already runs the program in Prince George. 

• Council will send its regrets to the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Foundation, as no councillors are available to attend the foundation's 2018 S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Gala in Vancouver on March 10.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca

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