PORT HARDY—Waterfront access was scrutinized at last week’s Council meeting when Peter Caton appeared as a delegate to request support.
Caton gathered 84 signatures to a petition protesting the erection of a fence and gate beside the new Coast Guard building, blocking access to a seafront walkway.
“The walkway has been used for generations of Port Hardy residents and we should not be deprived of it,” reads the petition. “Canadians own it. The gate and fence is only four feet high and therefore not a hindrance to potential miscreants. It only prevents honest citizens from enjoying a walkway that we’ve been using happily for many years.”
The signatures were gathered over a three-day period within 300 paces of the gate, said Caton. “I used (the walkway) every day to go to the post office, and I’m not alone,” he told councillors.
“All I want you to do is to write a letter to the Coast Guard.”
Coun. John Tidbury told Caton that the council was aware of the issue and that staff had been in communication with the Coast Guard.
Director of Corporate & Development Services Jeff Long clarified that during the planning process for the new building staff had requested access be left to the walkway, and confirmed that they were in discussion with the Coast Guard concerning the removal of the gate.
“We’ll wait to hear back from them in a more firm manner and report back to council in the coming weeks,” said Long.
Robert Johnsen requested District support for the annual Hallowe’en fireworks show at Storey’s Beach, asking for the use of the ball field and barricades along with help towards clean up and insurance.
Long explained that, “Staff, as part of the request, looked into both the insurance as well as the credentials that are required to be able to let these kind of fireworks off in a public event. In doing so staff consulted with the Municipal Insurance Association of B.C. who advised us that, unfortunately, this event wouldn’t be covered from a liability insurance perspective and that we’d be required to obtain private insurance.”
He explained that, further, the event would be required to take place under the direction of a fireworks supervisor, but he had discussed this with Johnsen and a potential solution on that basis was found.
“This is a really good event that’s enjoyed by a lot of people,” said Coun. Janet Dorward. “I do share the concerns of putting the District of Port Hardy at risk but I think, with suitable insurance it could go ahead.”
On the purchase of the insurance, councillors were reluctant to be on the hook for the bill, having donated $1,000 previously for the purchase of fireworks. After discussion, council agreed to an amended motion, granting leave for the event but requiring suitable insurance and licensing to be put in place.
Council approved a request from the BC Salmon Farmers Association, sponsored by Deputy Mayor Debbie Huddlestan, to proclaim September 21-27 as Aquaculture Week.
The proclamation did not pass in its entirety, with Coun. Jessie Hemphill proposing that one of its clauses — Whereas; The BC Salmon Farmers Association has made educating the public about its industry’s operations and opportunities a key priority — be struck from the proclamation.
“I don’t think it’s relevant in a District proclamation to specifically mention one organization when the proclamation is more generally about aquaculture,” she said.
Council agreed, passing the motion to amend the proclamation and adopt it.
There will be no regular council meeting next week due to councillors attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Whistler.
The next regular meeting will take place October 14 at the Municipal Hall.