Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance

The Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA) is a group of 21 local governments across the Northwest from Masset to Vanderhoof, committed to achieving a resource revenue sharing agreement for the region through negotiations with the provincial government.

Over the past five years more than $13 billion has been spent on major capital projects in the region, including pipelines, transmission lines, mines, clean energy projects, port expansions, LNG plant site preparation and an aluminum smelter replacement just to name a few.  At the same time, the provincial government has earned at least $500 million in incremental revenue associated with these projects. None of this revenue has come back to the communities.

Local governments estimate that current infrastructure needs in total $600 million. Usually, local governments’ access cost-shared provincial and federal grant programs to help meet their infrastructure needs but this model does not work for everyone. Infrastructure spending by both levels of government has been significant since the 2009 recession, but the Northwest infrastructure deficit has not been reduced.

The RBA is asking the provincial government to negotiate a revenue sharing agreement with the Northwest that would provide local governments with the resources we need to properly address the infrastructure and service gaps in our communities and create a legacy for our children.  A revenue sharing agreement would make the Northwest more livable and sustainable, creating a vibrant local economy to complement and diversify the region’s resource base.

Negotiations need to start now.

For more information visit the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance website.

Fire Chief on the Move

Fire Chief Michael Navratil has tendered his resignation, to pursue other career opportunities.  He will continue to lead the Fort St. James Fire Department until the end of May, and is now actively assisting the municipality with the transition to new leadership.

Mr. Navratil began working as Fire Chief in November of 2013.  Since then he has worked diligently to develop and improve the standards of training and safety in the department.

Mayor Rob MacDougall said, “On behalf of Council, I’d like to thank Mike for the exceptional work he has done leading the Fire Department.  During his time here he has increased the base of fire fighters, improved the level of usage at the Fire Training Centre, and built up the cohesiveness and camaraderie that now exists in the department.  He will be greatly missed as a valuable member of the management team of the District.”

View full press release

Council’s Corner April Update

Council jumped right into the New Year with budget deliberations, a community forum held February 7th, new bylaws and new policies.

Council is excited to announce that in January they passed a resolution on the right to a healthy environment. This declaration is part of the national Blue Dot movement sponsored by the David Suzuki Foundation. The declaration recognizes that people are part of the environment, and that a healthy environment is inextricably linked to the well-being of our community. The resolution reads:

“Therefore Council supports the concept that all people have the right to live in a healthy environment that includes the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, consume safe food, and to know what pollutants and contaminates are released into the environment.”

Council also sent letters to the Provincial and Federal government encouraging them to support these rights and work towards inclusion of these rights into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The District of Fort St. James was active coordinating Winterfest activities throughout February. Sadly the weather did not cooperate and many events had to be cancelled. The District is busy planning exciting events for Earth Day, followed by Pitch-In Weeks and of course Canada Day. It’s not too early to start thinking about your parade float. This year’s theme is Canada 150. The District is sponsoring an Earth Day event which will be taking place on April 20st at the Community Centre. This will be a chance to learn about how individuals can lessen their global footprint. April 22nd to May 7th is the District’s annual Pitch-In Weeks. Garbage bags are available at the District Office. Please pledge to clean up your neighbourhood!

Public Works has escaped large amounts of snow ploughing, but has had a busy spring dealing with water breaks and ground water seepage. Public Works would like to thank all residents for their patience with flooded ditches. If you are experiencing any problems please do not hesitate to contact the District Office at 250-996-8233.

The Fort St. James Fire Department is holding their spring recruit course starting this April. Burn permits are available at the District Office free of charge. Burning grass and other debris is not permitted in the District of Fort St. James. Remember to clean your chimney twice a year to avoid chimney fires and property damage. Smoke detectors save lives so check yours at least every six months.

Council held a Community Forum in early February. This was an opportunity for community members to learn more about Council’s plans for the next two years. Council invited community partners to join the conversation. This included the Primary Care Society, Nak’azdli Whut’en, the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations and KDL as the Community Forest contractor. There were many positive discussions and Council feels better informed about the public’s wishes going forward.

Council passed “Sign Regulation Bylaw No. 963, 2017” at the Regular Council Meeting February 22 2017. This new bylaw regulates new signs in Fort St. James. It is Council’s aim to regulate signs in the downtown core to create a cohesive look. Signs in place before the bylaw was adopted are exempt from the new Bylaw. A copy of the bylaw is available on the District’s website.

Council has reviewed actual expenses for 2016 and found that the District came in under budget. Since January Council has been reviewing the proposed 2017 budget. Capital projects that have been approved include, Community Centre upgrades, Fort Forum interior renovations, sidewalk and road paving, columbarium at the cemetery, marina upgrades and Spirit Square washrooms. One of the challenges that Council faced this budget season was around water and sewer rates for users. Over the past years there have been increased costs due to aging infrastructure. Council wants to be able to build reserve funds to help replace aging infrastructure instead of chasing small leaks. Users will notice an increase in utility rates. Rates have increased by $25.47 for residential users per utility billing cycle.

As of April 2017 the District will be spearheading tourism in Fort St. James. This comes on the heel of hiring an Economic Development Officer. By bringing tourism services in house the District will be able to expand its role and operate the Visitor Information Centre (VIC). The VIC will be open 5 days a week for May, June and September, and 7 days a week during peak tourism season in July and August.

Want to know more about what is happening in Fort St. James? Council meetings take place twice a month, updates can be found on the District of Fort St. James website (fortstjames.ca) as well as the Facebook page (facebook.com/fortstjames). Twice a year look for the Fort Flyer included with your utility tax notice. Council wants to make sure all residents are aware of what is going on in their community so check the Caledonia Courier quarterly for “Council’s Corner”.

Sincerely,

Mayor and Council for the District of Fort St. James

Council’s Corner- Year In Review

The District of Fort St. James had a busy year in 2016 with lots of exciting projects and programs taking place.

Council was able to support the community with $15,000 in Grants in Aid. These grants went to diverse community groups and individuals pursuing exciting opportunities around the world. Grants ranged from $100 to $5,000. Council is always excited to sponsor community projects and individual achievements. If you would like to apply for a grant in aid, please visit the District website or contact the Office for more information.

There were over $31,000 worth of building permits sold in 2016, representing over 4 million in construction value. The amount of these permits is positive and shows that our community is growing and developing.

Grants totalling $19,000 were awarded to five successful applicants through the Business Façade program. This is up from 2015 when just over $12,000 was distributed. This is an annual program that local businesses can apply to for new signs, siding and more! More info can be found on our website.

The District of Fort St. James had a lot of fun supporting 10 wonderful events throughout the year. Each event was a success and showed what a great place Fort St. James is to be. Events included: Winter Fest, Community to Community Forum, Pitch in Week, Bike to Work Week, Day of Mourning, Canada Day celebration, 4th Annual Night Market, the Pumpkin Walk, Remembrance Day and the Hospital Auxiliary 50th anniversary celebration.

Public Works completed all of their planned projects as well as a few unexpected ones in 2016. Extensive work went into the Fort Forum Arena thanks to a Canada 150 grant. This included new dasher boards and a new roof. Paving and patching took place around the community this summer as well as landscaping in the downtown core. Public works also completed and installed a new sign at the Community Centre. A new generator was purchased and installed for the sewer lift station, allowing the station to operate automatically when the power goes out. Watch for the Toolcat with the new sander attachment when you are out for a walk. The new sander allows for better sanding of District trails and paths. As always, Public Works helped out at community events including Canada Day, the Night Market and Music on the Mountain.

The Fort St. James Fire Department and the Northern Interior Fire Training Centre had a busy year with nine Live Fire training weekends that saw 72 members from outside departments and 13 local members receive training. The Department gained 12 new members through 3 recruit classes. Members participated in auto extrication, air brakes, ice rescue refresher and a strategy and tactics course. The Fire Department also hosted an Emergency Services Breakfast, weekly training nights, driver training, hose testing and pump operator training.

Council got down to business in 2016 and was able to accomplish a great deal by working together for the good of the community.

  • January and February saw the renewal of the Old Courthouse lease to the Community Arts Council of Fort St. James. This allowed the Arts Council to continue work on renovating the building, which is now open and known as Pope Mountain Arts. The facility hosts musical and craft events monthly. The District of Fort St. James co-hosted a Community to Community Forum with Nak’azdli Whut’en. This was a great opportunity for Council from each community to learn from one another. There was also youth involvement from the high school. Council was also busy with budget deliberations for the five-year financial plan.
  • March, April and May saw Bylaw and Policy amendments. Fort St. James residents are now permitted to keep up to four hens in their backyards for personal use. Visit our website for the full brochure. Council also completed an application to the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako Gas Tax Fund. This grant went towards the purchase of a digital cinema projector and sound equipment for the Community Centre. On May 25th Council played host to “Project Local Government”, a School District 91 program that exposes high school students to the workings of local government. Students spent the morning learning about the public administration, participated in a real Council meeting over lunch and visited Public Works and the Fire Department in the afternoon.
  • June, July and August are considered slower month in Local Government. This did not stop Council from publishing the Annual Report for 2015, participating in a tour of Mt. Milligan and receiving a report on the Community Forest. The Community Forest is doing well and continues to provide significant revenue to the District ($ 347,825 in 2016). This revenue goes towards projects that enhance the community and help diversify the local economy. Summer also saw the completion of phase one of upgrades to the Arena, including new dasher boards and glass as well as a new roof, partly funded by the Canada 150 grant program.
  • In September, four Council members participated in the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention in Victoria. This was an opportunity for Council to participate in seminars and workshops related to diverse fields in Local Government, and to have meetings with key members of the Provincial Government. Council took this time to lobby the government for funding of a new Clinic and Hospital.
  • October, November and December brought changes to Council. Councillor Nielsen took over the Housing portfolio and was able to bring together stakeholders to work on the Housing Strategy for 2017. Fort St. James had its first by-election in recent memory with four candidates putting their names forward for one vacancy. Council is happy to welcome Judy Greenaway to the position of Councillor. Judy is a long-time resident and tireless volunteer and will bring a fresh voice to Council in 2017.

Want to know more about what is happening in Fort St. James? Council meetings take place twice a month, updates can be found on the District of Fort St. James website (fortstjames.ca) as well as the Facebook page (facebool.com/fortstjames). Twice a year look for the Fort Flyer included with your utility tax notice. Council wants to make sure all residents are aware of what is going on in their community so check the Caledonia Courier quarterly for “Council’s Corner”.

Sincerely,

Mayor and Council for the District of Fort St. James

Official By-Election Results

Judy Greenaway has been declared the elected Councillor in the December 10 by-election.

Official results of the by-election were announced at 9:00 a.m. on December 13, 2016.

The total votes received were as follows:

71 – Judy Greenaway
45 – Hallan Mtatiro
41 – Bev Playfair
30 – Allan Howell

Ms. Greenaway will be sworn in at the first regular Council meeting in 2017.

 

Fort St. James Feature In Business Publication

We are pleased that the District of Fort St. James is featured in the latest issue of Canadian Business Journal.  Please take a look.cbj_december2016_cover

Fort St. James now allows backyard hens!

Fort St. James residents living in R-1 (Residential- Single Family) are now allowed to keep up to four hens for personal use. On June 22nd 2016 Council adopted the amending Bylaw No. 962 which allows residents to keep hens in their backyards. Absolutely NO ROOSTERS permitted. For more information check out the Backyard Hen brochure.

hen

Luck Bay Fire Protection Update

RDBN LogoPrint

PRESS RELEASE

May 26, 2016

The Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) reduced the Luck Bay Fire Protection Area’s status to “unprotected” as of December 15, 2015.  While this may have an impact on home insurance rates for residents in the Luck Bay area, it does not change the Fort St. James Fire Department’s commitment to responding to all incidents within its fire protection areas.

The District of Fort St. James and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako have taken several actions towards finding solutions to meet the minimum Fire Underwriter Service requirements for protected status.  We would like to inform the public of the progress made to date.

  • Fort St. James Fire Department (FSJFD) undertook an emergency intake of new recruits and a recruit course specifically for the Luck Bay area. This recruit course ended April 16th with two new recruits from the Luck Bay area completing the training.  A returning member was granted a shortened probationary period to more quickly increase the number of Fire Fighters.
  • In addition to the emergency intake, there has been a regularly scheduled FSJFD recruit course that began April 18th with one recruit from the Luck Bay area.
  • FSJFD has been working with the FUS to better understand their rating system in order to set realistic goals toward meeting their requirements for “protected” status. This is an ongoing conversation.  The Fire Underwriters’ Survey system is complex, with points given based on several criteria including; firefighter distance from home to the fire hall, distance from work to the fire hall, whether the person lives here year-round, level of training etc.
  • The Fire Chief has implemented improved communication within the department, and has kept the Chief Administrative Officer, Mayor and Council and the Regional District informed of all developments.

We have not yet been able to meet the Fire Underwriters’ Survey requirements for an improved rating. While several new members have been recruited, there have also been some resignations. At present the FSJFD has 37 active members with 7 living in the Luck Bay area. Recruitment and retention of fire fighters is a continual struggle throughout British Columbia.

We encourage Luck Bay Residents to consider joining the FSJFD.  We are particularly in need of fire fighters who are able to respond to calls in Luck Bay during daytime hours. Applications are always available at the Fort St. James District office for pick-up/drop-off.  The deadline for the next recruit intake is noon on September 2nd.

For more information please contact:

Kevin Crook, Chief Administrative Officer
District of Fort St. James
Phone: 250-996-8233
Fax: 250-996-2248
Email: cao@fortstjames.ca

Or

Deborah Jones-Middleton
Regional District of Bulkley Nechako
Phone: 1-800-320-3339
Fax: 250-692-3305
Email: deborahjm@rdbn.bc.ca

Luck Bay Fire Hall Remains Open

Media Release – 29 January 2016

A rumour that the Sowchea/Luck Bay Fire Hall may be closing is not true. The District of Fort St. James and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako would like to publicly state that there is no plan to close the Sowchea/Luck Bay Fire Hall or to discontinue fire protection services in the Sowchea/Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Services Areas.

The Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) have downgraded the Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Service Area, which is the area west of Colony Point consisting of approximately 78 residences, from a 3B to a 5 rating which is termed ‘Unprotected’. The reason the FUS downgraded the rating is due to the fire department not having enough fire fighters able to meet the FUS’s requirement for responses to incidents in the Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Service Area.

The 5 Rating may result in the residences in the Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Area experiencing an increase in property insurance rates.
The District of Fort St. James Fire Department will continue to respond to all calls in the Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Area to the best of its ability with available resources.

At a meeting held on January 28th, District of Fort St. James Mayor and Council members and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Electoral Area ‘C’ Director met with fire fighters and local government staff to talk about solutions to meet the minimum FUS requirements for protected status in a timely manner.

These actions will include:
– An immediate intake of new recruits, in addition to the scheduled Spring intake
– Enhancement of training opportunities
– Working with the FUS to better understand their rating system in order to set realistic goals toward meeting their requirements for protected status
– Development of a plan to improve communications both inter-departmentally and with the public.

District of Fort St. James Mayor and Council and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Electoral Area ‘C’ Director will hold a public meeting, the date to be announced, once the details of these actions have been determined.

For more information please contact:
Kevin Crook, Chief Administrative Officer
District of Fort St. James
Phone: 250-996-8233
Fax: 250-996-2248

Gail Chapman, Chief Administrative Officer
Regional District of Bulkley Nechako
Phone: 1-800-320-3339
Fax: 250-692-3305
Email: district@fortstjames.ca Email: inquiries@rdbn.bc.ca

Business Walk

The District of Fort St James is excited to be participating in our first ever Business Walk! Business Walks are a business retention program that aims to survey as many businesses in the community as possible. The Walk will take place July 6th from 9:30 to 12:30 and will be coordinated through the District, the Chamber of Commerce and the Province of British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. If you would like more information or would like to book an appointment for an interview please contact Emily Colombo, Economic Development Officer at edo@fortstjames.ca.

All information collected will go into a final report that will be available for all business owners and online. If follow up interviews are requested the District and Chamber will do their best to provide additional information and support.

We look forwards to chatting with as many businesses as we can and making this an annual event!

Fort St James Flyer Final