Fort St. John city hall news in brief

Highlights from the city council meeting held Monday, June 10, 2019:

Cemetery fee hike approved

Council voted to increase cemetery fees starting in 2020. The city will raise fees to be in line with average pricing in comparable nearby communities next year, and then raise fees 5% plus the cost of inflation annually between 2021 and 2025.

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It’s the first increase in a decade as demand for cemetery space and services in the city continues to grow. The cost of an adult plot will rise from $400 to $670 in 2020, not including other fees; the cost for a columbarium niche will rise from $100 to $220.

Coun. Gord Klassen declared a conflict of interest as he works at a local funeral home and did not vote. 

The city’s current fees are significantly less than neighbouring communities, and taxpayers have been subsidizing cemetery operations anywhere between 50 to 65% over the last three years.

Still, subsidies to the cemeteries are expected to increase over the next five years even with the fee increases, totalling an estimated $1.67 million through to 2025. Much of that accounts for planned expansions and other capital upgrades. 

The city examined cemetery fees in Dawson Creek, Terrace, Yellowknife, and Grande Prairie. The cost to bury a person was the highest in Grande Prairie, at more than $2,000 for a full adult interment.

An updated city's cemetery bylaw and fee schedule will be drafted and presented for formal approval later this month.

Other business

• Council wants to a hold a public forum to discuss the 231 recommendations coming from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Council directed staff to prepare a report on the costs and logistics involved in hosting the forum with neighbouring First Nations. “What can we do as a community to address (those recommendations),” Mayor Lori Ackerman said. Read more about the report by clicking here

• Council approved two development variance permits for the new Canadian Tire development to allow for increased signage sizes and the maximum height of fencing surrounding the property.

• Council authorized Mayor Lori Ackerman to attend the BC Non-Profit Housing Association's northern education and networking tradeshow event in Prince George on June 13. The trip will cost $270 for per diems and incidentals, charged to council's travel account. 

• Rashid Hasan was recognized with a five-year service award. Hasan is the city’s director of human resources, and came to Fort St. John in June 2014 after working for municipalities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

• Coun. Gord Klassen has been elected to the board of directors for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Klassen will represent the city as well as other B.C. municipalities on the national board.

Proclamations

• Council recognized the year 2019 as marking the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Institute of Planners. The institute represents more than 7,000 planners across Canada. Planners are always thinking about their communities, and how buildings, roads, and parks “fit together like a puzzle,” city planner Ashley Murphey said. “Planning helps create communities of lasting value,” Murphey said.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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