PORT HARDY—Members of the Twinning Society appeared before Port Hardy Council and outlined plans to add a little Far East flavour to the town.
The Twinning Society was formed in 1994 to enhance the relationship between Port Hardy and its sister city, Numata, Japan.
Pat Corbett-Labatt appeared for the society and explained the vision of installing a torii gate. The instantly recognizable Japanese symbol is the traditional entrance to a Shinto shrine, symbolizing the transition from the profane to the sacred.
Corbett-Labatt explained to councillors that the plan was at a very early stage and that society members were investigating the cost and cultural appropriateness of erecting a torii in addition to fundraising options and potential locations.
She told councillors that the society’s first choice for a location would be in Hardy Bay, between T’sulquate park and the shipping lane marker. This location has the advantage of using the torii as a frame for the mountains but may require more work that other locations to erect the gate.
“It would be pretty spectacular,” said Corbett-Labatt, before stressing that plan was still very tentative.
The council also heard that the project would be eligible for grant funding through several avenues.
Councillors were very receptive to the idea of the torii, with Mayor Bev Parnham noting the support around the table and saying that the consensus was to move forward with the planning.
Coun. John Tidbury asked that the council invite the fire commissioner to Port Hardy to discuss regulations for volunteer firefighters.
“There’s so much regulation we have to go by,” he explained. “I don’ think they understand the reality. I don’t know where they think this money is coming from.”
Mayor Bev Parnham agreed, saying, “Training costs and requirements for volunteers are really becoming onerous. It’s really stretching the capabilities of smaller communities.”
The mayor also agreed to bring the issue to the Regional District of Mount Waddington.
Councillors discussed a resolution from the Council of the City of Victoria which urged the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to reduce the default municipal speed limit from 50 to 40 km/h.
The resolution argues that lowering the speed limit would better protect pedestrians, while making the limit province-wide would raise awareness and ease enforcement.
Councillors were not in support of the resolution, with the mayor noting that the local RCMP Staff Sergeant was not in favour of such a move.
“Perhaps this is more appropriate in the more congested areas — Victoria, Vancouver, and so on — but not so much in Port Hardy,” she said.
Coun. Tidbury also spoke against the idea saying, “I have great difficulty with these arbitrary numbers — why not 30 or 20? It’s not an engineered study.”
Councillors may soon have some new technology in the chambers to streamline meetings.
Director of Corporate Services Jeff Long outlined plans to install a television set in the room, primarily for use in emergency response situations, as well as a roof-mounted projector and screen to facilitate delegations and presentations.
The mayor informed councilors that the district was investigating a system developed by iCompass which, if adopted, would lead towards paperless meetings.
The software is specifically geared towards municipal meetings, and allows administrators to draft electronic agendas and minutes while offering simple web publishing options.
Councillors would then use iPad-type tablets to access the agenda and documents, and would be able to highlight text or make notes through the tablet.
The mayor promised councillors a demonstration of the technology in the near future.