Council closes in on budget

Port McNeill Council moves within the final step of passing its budget bylaw during monthly meeting

PORT McNEILL—Council moved within the final step of passing its five-year budget bylaw by approving third reading of the document during its regular meeting May 5.

Final approval was expected during a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening, after the Gazette went to press.

The third and final readings of the Five-Year Budget Bylaw and the 2014 Tax Rate Bylaw were passed largely without comment. Coun. Gaby Wickstrom asked for clarification on tax rates, and treasurer Dan Rodin pointed out that, while rates would rise slightly for most municipal taxpayers, a reduction in assessed values of properties would mean little or no change to the tax bills of residents.

“The municipality will garner the same amount of taxes as if the rates hadn’t changed,” Rodin noted.

 

Paramedic training backed

Council voted to waive rental at the Old School so that a Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) class could be hosted to provide a higher level of training to the North Island’s first responders this year.

“We have 11 people on our staff, and there are only two people with my level of license,” said Claudette Wilson, a PCP license-holder who lobbied for the in-kind donation so local paramedics would not have to travel for the nine-month training course.

“It costs extra money to bring it to us; we’re asking for in-kind contribution of the facilities to keep our costs down.”

Wilson said a minimum of 15 students were required to hold the class, and that she had recruited 24 from North Island communities ranging from Holberg to Zeballos.

The course will be part-time, with classes held Friday through Sunday from September through May of 2015, Wilson said.

Mayor Gerry Furney noted there was a precedent to the request.

“When we first acquired the old building, one of the first uses we put it to was ambulance classes, and there’s a definite, positive history with the ambulance service.”

According to the BC Ambulance Service (BCAS), roughly 80 per cent of members province-wide hold the more stringent PCP license, required for critical care cases, while 12 per cent hold the basic Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certification. Those numbers are basically reversed on the North Island, largely because members are unable to take the nine months required to hold dual residency to take the course away from the area.

“This helps us to give a better level of care that we don’t have,” said Wickstrom. “I believe there are others with BC Ambulance who are dedicated and want to take the training, if they don’t have to leave the community.”

 

Waterfront vendors

Council directed staff to begin formulation of a new policy for temporary vendors within the community.

The decision resulted from a request by xxx, known as “The Bead Lady”, who requested permission to set up a kiosk on the waterfront to offer her wares beginning in June.

Council generally approved the idea of increasing business opportunities through vendors, but declined xxxx’s request until a comprehensive policy could be established, setting the ground rules for all such vendors who might wish to set up shop.

“That makes us proactive and not reactive,” Coun. Chris Sharpe said of setting a policy. “I, for one, want to support this. I think it brings something to our waterfront; it tells people we’re business-oriented, and welcome to our community. I think the policy’s paramount.”

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