PORT ALICE—A move to reduce nurse staffing in the Village will be met with resistance from council after discussions last week.
Mayor Jan Allen informed councillors of a planned reduction in staffing levels from two positions to 0.4 effective April 1, 2014.
Since the initial announcement this figure has been increased to 0.73 but the council were unprepared to let any cutbacks go without a fight.
The move to reduce hours seemed to run counter to suggestions made at the Sept. 30 meeting between Island Health’s Board of Directors and community leaders. According to the Mayor’s Report to Council, during that meeting, “Physicians spoke of the need for more staff and resources, as well as improved patient transfer services, to help meet the challenge of providing primary and urgent health care to North Island residents.”
Mayor Allen introduced a motion to council, unanimously backed, to pen a letter to Dr. Brendan Carr, President and CEO of Island Health, arguing for the existing two positions to be reinstated.
“I would like to see us go back to two-point-oh,” she said. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Administrator Madeline McDonald reported a meeting between staff and consultants on a proposed hydroelectric project in the region.
Synex Energy Resources Ltd. have had an Energy Production Agreement in place with BC Hydro since 2006, and consultants from the company’s engineering wing, Sigma Engineering, met with Village staff to discuss the project.
According to the company’s description, the project at Victoria Lake, “will divert up to 13.9 cubic metres per second of water from Victoria Lake to Neroutsos Inlet, via a tunnel, for the purpose of power generation. The entire project is located on Crown land. Components of the project include an intake structure, a 2.2 km long tunnel, a powerhouse, approximately 0.5 km of new access roads and a 6 km 25 kv transmission line.”
While the project is still in the development phase, Synex has completed several portions of the regulatory work, most recently the Fisheries and Fish Habitat Assesment reports, finalized last month.
The company consultants were advised by Village staff to contact Neucel Specialty Cellulose to further discuss the proposal. Besides being a major stakeholder in the area, Neucel holds several water licenses for Victorai Lake.
Neucel’s Vice President Community & Government Affairs Tai Cheng confirmed that a meeting between the parties had taken place, but noted the project still had a ways to go.
“I can confirm that we have had a meeting with Sigma Engineering to discuss the Victoria Lake power project,” he said in an email. “But there has been no decision on how to move forward on this project. Any power project utilizing Victoria Lake will require partnership with the Village of Port Alice and Neucel. We have planned another meeting with Sigma Engineering and will discuss our needs if a power project is to go ahead utilizing our lands.”
In the Administrator’s Report, council was told that the old airplane float is now redundant infrastructure, and a recommendation was forwarded that the float be advertised for sale.
Mayor Allen suggested that the Yacht Club should be given the right of first refusal for a nominal fee. The amended motion was carried forward and the council approved the recommendation, agreeing that the float would be advertised on an as-is, where-is basis if the Yacht Club declined.
Councillors expressed interest in attending the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Summit later this month in Nanaimo.
“No one went to (the Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference); this seems more workable,” noted the mayor.
Since the council had not sent a representative to the UBCM event in Vancouver, funds remained in the budget to cover the cost of the Nanaimo summit.
Topics at VIEA this year will include the future of energy, attracting skilled workers, forestry, green technology, international relations, entrepreneurism and water sustainability.
“It looks like a great agenda,” remarked Coun. Janice MacLeod. “It’s geared to Vancouver Island..”
With much interest in the event around the table, the council voted to approve funds for the attendance of the mayor and up to three other councillors.