Major Jan Allen returns to chair Alice Council

Major returns to chair this week's Port Alice council meeting.

PORT ALICE— Mayor Jan Allen returned to chair the Port Alice Council meeting after an extended hiatus due to illness.

In her first full meeting since May, the Mayor’s first order of business fittingly involved an update. Administrator Madeline McDonald advised Council on the current progress of several public works projects which began over the summer in Port Alice.

One of the largest projects undertaken was the improvement of the culvert at Copper Coast. The culvert was installed after a slide took out the road in 2010. When the road was repaired the culvert was installed to allow water to continue to flow beneath.

On inspection early this year, the culvert was found to be in need of some work, to halt erosion and to allow the waterway to be passable to fish, something a three-metre drop was preventing. Since fish passage is federally and provincially mandated, the Village retained River Bank Resources to create a step-pool complex to the culvert to reopen the waterway.

The work was completed at the end of August , and is now considered passable to fish, and stable enough to handle future storms.

In other projects, road patching and the Marine Drive sidewalk projects have been completed. The new Zamboni pad at the arena is largely complete, with the concrete pad itself in place. The project was slightly expanded to add a concrete path from the pad to the arena doors.

• In her Administrator’s report, McDonald advised Council that it would soon need to appoint new members to the Village’s Board of Variance and Development.

McDonald explained the Village is required under the Local Government Act to maintain a Board of Variance in the municipality, and in Port Alice’s case the Board must be comprise of at least three members.

The role of the Board is to adjudicate in cases where a property owner seeks a relaxation of zoning bylaws to remedy a perceived hardship. The Board has to operate within Zoning bylaws, but any relaxations it does grant carry a good deal of weight, and its decisions cannot be undone without a supreme court decision.

The current Board is in need of members after one member passed away and another left the community. The third member has requested that he be replaced if possible, due to limited availability.

McDonald advised Council, which is responsible for appointing members to the Board, that the issue of restoring the Board to full capacity would need to be addressed in the near future.

• After receiving a copy of a letter from the Village of Granisle to Premier Christy Clark with regards to disability benefits payments, Council moved to draft their own letter on the issue.

The Granisle Council echoed a position taken by the District of Kitimat, urging the Province to increase the Persons with Disabilities benefit. The letter urged an increase to a minimum $1200 per month, arguing that this figure better reflects the cost of living in B.C.

Port Alice Council moved to draft its own letter to Premier Christy Clark supporting the position of Kitimat and Granisle. Councillor Marc Brackett suggested Port Alice’s letter recommend tying any increase in benefits to inflation in order to avoid the same issues repeating in the future.