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Council briefs: one step closer to a sediment basin

Motion at council does not commit RMOW to creating the basin, but gets ball rolling for funding



Council has taken the next steps toward creating a sediment basin in the Fitzsimmons Creek.

They passed a resolution Tuesday evening allowing the RMOW to apply for the Emergency Management BC funding program, through which the municipality would pay only one-third of the cost for the project, with the remainder of the cost to be evenly split between the federal and provincial governments.

The motion also stipulated that council supports a budget allocation of $21,000 for initial project costs.

The estimated cost for the basin, which would be located in the creek upstream from the skate park, before the Terry Rodgers bridge, is $976,000 over three years. Council will need to allocate $303,000 for its 2012 budget and another $6,500 in 2013.

Heather Beresford explained to council during her administrative report that the motion that is agreed upon does not commit the municipality to actually creating the sediment basin, but merely gets the ball rolling for funding if RMOW staff decides whether a sediment basin is the right way to go.

"If in the next couple of months, the info that we're receiving... that a sediment basin is not going to be the best answer, (then) we can tell (the federal government) that we're not into it, but they wanted support from council in case it is the best way to go," Beresford said.

While more research needs to be done, said Beresford, staff estimates that the basin will save the RMOW 10 to 15 per cent in annual costs.

"There are costs to doing the status quo, there are costs toward the sediment basin model but in our opinion the sediment basin ... may be the way that we can reduce our costs, reduce our impacts on the fish habitats and have a much smoother method of managing Fitzsimmons Creek," Beresford said.

Gravel removal will still be necessary but all work will be completed in one place. The RMOW currently spends $300,000 on gravel removal. Beresford said that while more research needs to be done, it seems that a basin will save money in the long run and is a more efficient way of managing the gravel load at Fitzsimmons Creek. With its current gravel-removal operations, the municipality removes gravel from a variety of locations and has trucks coming in and out of all these locations and that has added costs and causes disruptions to the streams.

"The efficiencies aren't there in the way we're managing it now," Beresford said.

The sediment basin will meet the requirements of the Fisheries Act, will minimize the distribution of fish in the creek and will isolate the creek.

"This will allow the dikes to do what they're supposed to do," Beresford said.

It's a provincial requirement that municipalities manage and maintain their dikes, a situation Mayor Ken Melamed half-jokingly referred to as "downloading."

Councillors Ralph Forsyth and Eckhard Zeidler were opposed to the motion, with the latter questioning how "responsible" council would be with moving ahead without more information about the actual costs.

"The hurdle that I need to see crossed is that we know what those numbers are," said Zeidler.


More funding for not-for-profits


Staff recommended that council authorize the Fee for Service Agreements with WAG for $60,000, Whistler Arts Council for $536,800, Whistler Museum and Archives Society for $150,000 and Whistler Chamber of Commerce for $110,000.

The RMOW provides financial assistance on an annual basis to not-for-profit community organizations and societies, and have entered in agreements with all four organizations in previous years.

Whistler Arts Council requested $380,000 more than in previous years to compensate for MY Place Millennium Theatre costs, which have been integrated into the art's council budget this year.


Budget FAQ online now


Have questions about the budget process? Wonder how Whistler tax rates compare to other communities? Don't care to speak to anybody in person?

Well, visit the RMOW's "2011 Budget Frequently Asked Questions" on line. Click on the 2011 Municipal Budget link on the right side of the homepage and follow the links from there.