2017 Year-End Review - Anmore Council
The Talking with the Mayor column was established on
10, 2016. This 2017 Year-end Review compares Mayor McEwen's priorities to what happened this past year. (17-12-17).
TALKING WITH THE MAYOR
Please Note: Anmore Council holds many
in-camera (secret) meetings, so to report as accurately as possible on Council actions we have
had to gather information from other sources such as Council documents, near-by community
sources, developers' websites, and other local information.
1. “I believe that Anmore’s mayor should
take the initiative and proactively manage Anmore’s growth." (John McEwen)
Council has been very receptive to realtors and developers.There are a number of new million dollar homes being built on former mobile home pads in Countryside Village. In addition to compliant acre-sized lot developments, there are also a number of developments with lots as small as 1/4 to 1/3 acre either underway or being considered. Jason Smith, Anmore's Manager of Development Services, is a qualified planner and is responsible for advising Council on issues related to development and pro-actively managing growth.
The website for bellwether steep slope sub-division, 'Bella Terra by the Lake' shows that two properties have been sold since the sales office was established in September 2016. Some residents have expressed concern that the maintenance and replacement of infrastructure on steep slopes costs the Village of Anmore 5x as much as in the established neighbourhoods on the valley floor. (Financial Sustainability Report, July 2014).
Council has had a number of meetings with BCG (Brilliant Circle Group) about IOCO lands development (232-acre former Imperial Oil lands in Port Moody (83 acres) and Anmore (150 acres). The extension of David Avenue as currently configured requires a bridge over Mossom Creek. Another small lot development has been considered for 2307 Sunnyside Rd. As well, Abana Capital has plans a 26.5 Acre Development for 1720 East Road Click Here.
The Anmore Zoning By-law has been revised. New guidelines for development in Countryside Village that concern some residents were included. Click Here. Anmore Green development at the entrance to the Village off of East Road is asking to hook up to Port Moody sewers.
Bella Terra - Alpine, Eagle Crest, and Chestnut
26 four-to-five bedroom custom-built single-family wood-frame homes, from 5,800 to 7,620 square feet, set on lots of .24 to .5 of an acre. Eight models to choose from.
Abana - East Road Estimated number of lots: 35 view lots • 26 lots at 1,300 m2 (1/3 Acres) • 9 lots at 2,000 m2 (1/2 Acres)
IOCO lands being developed by Brilliant Circle Group (150 acres in Anmore)
2. "I also want to
ensure that Anmore takes the necessary steps to become financially sustainable". (John McEwen)
2017, Anmore residents saw a tax increase of 8.9%. 7.4% of this
increase goes to the capital asset levy, 1.5% to municipal operations. Click Here
Council has not been able to secure any significant grants that we are aware of. However, the Anmore Heritage Society was able to secure a $25,000 BC 150 grant on behalf of the Village to prepare for the start-up of the Anmore Welcome Centre and Ma Murray Museum. Since Council has decided to rescind its support for the 100 year-old Murray homestead restoration project as configured in the grant applications, it is uncertain if this money will need to be returned. The Anmore Heritage Society, in collaboration with Heritage BC, were also able to almost certainly secure up to a $500,000 contribution from the Canadian Heritage Legacy Fund for the restoration of the 'heritage-designated' Village Hall, however all Council members (except Paul Weverink) chose to change the scope of the project to either a replica or a pass through to a new Village Hall, so this money was no longer available.
HCMA Architectural Design has been hired for $31,300 for a Village Centre Site Development Plan. Council has now voted to "dismantle and dispose" of the Murray homestead after a hazardous materials assessment has been completed. One source of found money for a new Village Hall (now estimated to cost $3.5 to $4 million) might be the approval of infill properties on existing services.
3. 'Finally, I intend to deliver a transparent and accountable government for
The BC Community Charter states as:
"General rule that meetings must be open to the public
89 (1) A meeting of a council must be open to the public, except as provided in this Division."
"There is a presumption under the Community Charter that meetings of local government boards and councils will be open to the public. Sometimes, in order to preserve confidentiality in respect of private matters, meetings may be closed. However, as this runs contrary to the principles of openness, transparency and accountability, statutory provisions are in place that limit the circumstances under which local governments can hold closed meetings and ensure appropriate procedures are followed prior to the closure of a meeting."(Ombudsperson's Report Click Here).
Although "transparent and accountable government" was one of Mayor McEwen's top three priorities, this Council's actions speak otherwise. There are many in-camera (secret) meetings, often approved at the last minute without the appropriate notification. With the current Council, volunteer committees are told what to address and can no longer raise topics that they believe are important without first getting Council approval.
At Council Meetings the public can only ask questions at the beginning of a meeting and only on topics on the Agenda (which assumes that residents have had sufficient access to the Agenda in advance of the meeting). Questions and comments from the public are no longer allowed as issues are discussed, and residents are restricted to questions (not comments) in the Public Question Period at the end of the meeting. (two minute max). With the top-down assumption that only Council has the expertise to identify issues of importance to the community, a number of highly qualified professionals are no longer volunteering.
A number of staff members are fairly new and have appropriate qualifications for their positions. As well, Council meeting agendas and minutes are generally up-to-date and accurate.
After a failed attempt at revising the Village website by another consultant, ION Branding Design was hired for approximately $40,000 to redesign the website, and re-brand and provide a logo for the Village. The by-line which is not used is "Anmore - at Home in Nature". The longstanding hummingbird was replaced with the following logo which resembles an upside down Vistaprint logo.
TALKING TO THE MAYOR RESPONSES FROM MAYOR McEWEN IN 2016
100 year-old 'heritage designated' Murray homestead
Served as Anmore Village Hall from incorporation in 1987 until vacated overnight in November 2012.
Anmore Heritage Society design for the homestead restoration.
Anmore Welcome Centre and 'Ma' Murray Museum by Gaetan Royer of City State & Associates.
Anmore Alternative Question:
(19-09-16) The `Murray´ House is 100 years old this year. A previous
Council designated it a heritage building, it has served as the Village
Hall since incorporation, and is a pivotal place for Village
celebrations. At the All Candidates Meeting you stated that Anmore
heritage is important but that the Village Hall was beyond repair. A
Heritage BC architect has now confirmed that the original heritage
building is in very good condition but the recent additions are not
worth saving. We understand that all of the current Council is on-board
to save this heritage home so central to our Anmore roots. How do you
see this second resurrection unfolding?
MAYOR McEWEN: Our community roots are extremely
important to me and all members of Anmore Council. When the Anmore Village Hall was
condemned in November of 2012 because of neglect over the years, uncertainty
evolved regarding next steps.
Initially Council focused on the
entire building which, other than the original homestead which served as the
Council chambers, has since been determined to have little if any historical
content. For example the counter area addition was a closed-in garage.
During the years that the building
has been vacant, architectural, structural, and historical professionals
confirmed for Council that, while most of the building is not worth saving, the
original 800 sq. ft. Murray homestead is not only of major
historical significance but it is also in good condition to restore. Council
was thrilled with this news because now, not only could we save this building
so important to our Anmore identity but it would be more economical to
Currently Council is waiting for
cost estimates to: severe the original Murray homestead from the existing
portion, and to move and secure it until an overall plan for the Village Centre
is developed. These costs will dictate the future.
As a small community, our funds are
limited. We definitely need help from other levels of government, as well as
community groups, to pull this off. Council will pursue every avenue to make
this happen, but we need your help.
The ‘Newspapering Murray’ legacy is
bigger than our little village. This heritage belongs not only to Anmore, but
also to BC and Canada. So I ask residents of Anmore, please take our
stewardship responsibility seriously, engage with whoever will listen, and seek
the collaboration and support of others. Let's save this piece of history
within our Village!
The newly formed Anmore
Heritage Society, in collaboration with Heritage BC, secured a $25,000 for the Village to organize for the start-up of the restoration of the municipal hall as the 'Anmore Welcome
Centre and Ma Murray Museum'. There was also a high likelihood of obtaining a $500,000 Canadian Heritage Legacy grant, only available in 2017, to restore the 100 year-old Ma Murray
Council sent a letter of support for the Anmore Welcome Centre and Ma Murray Museum, offering to contribute the homestead, a site at the Village Centre and the artifacts. Canadian Heritage officials said that they "loved the proposal" but that neither the Anmore Heritage Society (too new) nor Heritage BC (provincially chartered) was eligible to apply. They suggested that the Village, in collaboration with the other two partners, re-apply with the same application by September 30, 2017. The Village was also asked to adjust the amount requested to $328,000 from the $500,000 (with a supplemental application to $500,000 if needed).
Two weeks before the revised grant was due, Council voted to change the proposal to 'a
replica' or 'a pass through to a new Village Hall'. There was insufficient time for the partners to recast the 200+ page grant application by September 30th. As well, this was not the same proposal as requested by Canadian Heritage.The grant was lost. Council subsequently voted to dismantle and dispose of the 'heritage designated' Murray homestead (but save the stained glass window).
Anmore Alternative Question: In
one of your election campaign videos you talked about creating Central
Community Space. What is your vision for this space and how will it be
McEwen: A central community space is of upmost importance to me. It
creates a gathering space for hosting the community events which define
Anmore's small community feeling. In Anmore these events consist of the
Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween, Christmas, and, of course, our very own Ma
current Village Center consists of three parcels of land divided by
Ravenswood Drive and Ma Murray Lane.The goal of Council is to connect
all three of these parcels into one large parcel of land by rerouting
the existing two roads which would create a parcel approx 4.5 acres in
this, we would be able to position a new Village Hall and eliminate
safety issues with traffic on these two roads as well as having enough
space to facilitate our growing community. Conversations are also forth coming about the possible incorporation of a retail component to this space which might host a Bakery/Coffee Shop.
importance of developing a solid thorough plan for this area cannot be
understated, it will define the Village Center for years to come. I'm
hoping that in the new year Council will start moving forward with
discussions on this exciting idea.
Council has issued a architectural/planning contract to HCMA Architecture and Design for $31,300 for a 'Village Centre Site Development Plan'. To date, the
Council has been unable to secure grant funding for a new municipal
building. Some work has been able to go ahead. Most of the trees were removed, the field graded, and grass planted on the north side of Ravenswood in Spirit Park.
So far, Council has authorized close to half a million dollars to buy and
rent ATCO trailers for Village operations. A rental system for the 'Council Chamber' trailer is now in place. Some community groups, such as The Garden Club, Youth Group, and Countryside Village Strata have the rental fees waived for their events and meetings. Other groups, such as the residents opposing BC Hydro high voltage lines, are required to pay fees according to a stated policy.
Anmore Alternative Question: You worked with Lees and Associates on creating the Anmore Parks Master Plan. According to the report, while the Village of Anmore contains 17 park and open space sites over 9.57 hectares of land, much of this is not "usable" as neighbourhood or community park space. As well, trails are a relatively low financial investment, and are used by a wide segment of the population. The report recommended both accessible parks and that the maintenance and further development of trails be high priorities for the Village. Please bring us up-to-date on Council actions on the recommendations in the Anmore Parks Master Plan.
Mayor McEwen: As a councillor for six years, and before being elected Mayor, I chaired the Parks Committee and was a strong advocate for a Parks Master Plan which was eventually developed by Lees and Associates. As Parks Committee Chair, I wondered about the parcels of land the Village was receiving from various developments. They were often nothing more than undevelopable parcels, encumbered by right-of-ways, water courses, or non-buildable lots. It was clear to me that we needed policies to correct this situation.
As the Parks Master Plan was being compiled, I was reminded of the old saying 'be careful what you wish for'. It became very clear that active parks have significant costs associated with their development and maintenance. Two prominent areas emerged in the planning process - 1) trail network development and 2) the design and creation of a central Village gathering space. Considering community advice, the Parks Master now sets forward a clear vision of the community wants and needs.
As Mayor, I'm hoping to start work at the beginning of next year on the design of a central Village gathering spot. This will then help in regards to design of a new Village Hall. Council will also need to discuss our trail network and its consistency and how to secure private lands which now comprise some of our trail network. As well, as our trail network grows, Council will need to address costs and possible equipment needed for maintenance and development.
The Meuckel family was very involved in establishing the first trail network at Buntzen Lake. A number of these trails still exist, while others are dormant. Councillor Weverink has been working with Tri-cities Terrace Off Road Cycling Association (TORCA) to develop a plan for the development and maintenance of Anmore Trails.
At the November 21, 2017 Anmore Regular Council Meeting, Council approved a motion to determine the validity of an Environmental Study from ISL Engineering (Oct, 14, 2015) and have staff do an estimate of costs to complete Mossom Creek Bridge and stairs to the Mossom Creek Hatchery from Summerwood Lane.
Anmore Alternative Question: (21-08-16) On September 10, 2013 the Fraser
Health Authority imposed a ‘Boil Water Advisory’ on the Village. Fraser
Health also confirmed some of the early coliform counts were in the range
of 400 to 500 parts per 100 millilitres of tested water where the
acceptable number in B.C. is no more than 10 total coliforms per sample.
The Advisory lasted for over a month.
A number of residents are still depending on other sources of
drinking water. Can you explain what the current Council is doing to
ensure safe potable water for the community?
The boil water advisory which occurred in 2013, was an eye opener as to the condition of our aging infrastructure. I personally felt that the severity of the advisory wasn't taken seriously enough from both Council and Staff. I believe the utmost role of Council is to ensure the safety and well being of all residents.
With that being said, after the advisory commenced, I lobbied extensively on Council to survey our entire water system in an effort to identify other possible issues with quality and supply. Dayton and Knight were initially contracted to oversee the resolution of the issues that led to the 'boil water' advisory. At this time, I strongly advocated for further Village-wide analysis which Council did approve resulting in the Water Modelling Report .
In the report, recommendations were made to upgrade the piping to ensure adequate flows throughout the Village and to loop currently dead-end sections to eliminate stagnation. The report articulated concern that if a fire had broken out north of Hemlock, there would have been inadequate flow to fight it. When I became Mayor, fixing this was one of my highest priorities.
When a subdivision proposal came forward near the north end of the Village, we were able to address this concern through the developer's community amenity contribution. The contribution consisted of a significant pipe upgrade down Sunnyside as well as a looping through Eaglecrest to Alpine at a cost close to a million dollars. I voted in favour of the Comprehensive Development proposal because of this contribution, and also because of the 45% parkland donation and a density of only 1.2 houses per acre.
As mayor, I will continue to advocate tirelessly for the improved safety and well being of all residents. This will definitely include consideration of the Dayton and Knight Water Modelling Report as new development applications come forward to Council.
Anmore Alternative Question: (15-08-16): Your third priority for the 2014 election was accountability and transparency. We commend you for having thorough and up-to-date Minutes of Regular Council Meetings and for trying to improve the Village website. As well, you were willing to listen to residents and establish the Mayor’s Task Force on in-fill to consider the needs of long-term residents as well as the developers. There has however been much criticism about the new rules for volunteer participation on Council Committees, for public participation in Council Meetings, and about the large number of last minute in-camera meetings. Please explain the measures that Council has taken to be more open, transparent, and accountable.
MAYOR McEWEN: Transparency and accountability throughout local government is of utmost concern to me. I have strongly advocated for this with limited success throughout my precious terms on Council. Since becoming Mayor, it truly has been one of the most pressing issues for me within the Village of Anmore.
As promised, I wanted Council to hear from those who didn't get the opportunity through the recent Official Community Plan process to discuss infill, and therefore created the Mayor's Task Force on this topic. As well, I've asked staff to widely advertise upcoming meetings through all of the media tools within the Village.
As well, processes are now in place to ensure that meeting minutes are prepared and posted in a timely manner while they are still relevant. This fall, with the expansion of our temporary Village Hall, I plan on hosting an afternoon coffee chat with the Mayor for anyone to come stop by and discuss things, ask questions, or just share a coffee and say hello.
Public participation at meetings is something I respect greatly yet the functioning of our meetings needs to be facilitated in a business-like manner. Anyone from the public is welcome to provide thoughts and comments on any item on the agenda before Council deliberates. As well, Public Question Period at the end of all meetings provides the opportunity for people to ask questions of a more general nature once the core business of the meeting has been addressed.
As a Council we are governed by the BC rules of discussion for in-camera meetings, "Labour, Land, and Legal." I always question staff about the topics of debate to ensure in-camera compliance and when applicable that the deliberations and decisions are released. I am hoping that effective decisions from both Staff and Council will greatly reduce the number of legal issues with significant financial savings flowing to the Village.
Volunteerism is of utmost concern to me throughout the Village. As I've commented previously, without community volunteers our Village wouldn't be able to operate as we currently see it. Council desperately needs to maintain and promote the involvement of current volunteers and encourage others to become engaged. Enhancing this volunteer base can be challenging with all of our busy lives, so to address this,we as a Council have to look at diverse incentives for volunteer participation, such as housing choices.
Anmore Alternative Question (08-08-16): Please comment on your first two years relative to the following excerpts from the Vann Struth Financial Sustainability Report prepared for the Village:
(Page 58) The most important conclusion is that regardless of new housing development or the rate of growth, the Village has insufficient revenues to simultaneously maintain existing services, to pay off the existing backlog of infrastructure costs, and to save for the replacement of all of the new infrastructure that will be built over the next 20 years. Using Pinnacle Ridge as a proxy, the replacement of new infrastructure will be about five times more costly on a per acre basis than the replacement of Anmore's current infrastructure.
(Page 32) The scenarios are assumed to apply only to current vacant land, it is recognized, however, that redevelopment and subdivision of currently developed land will also occur. Redevelopment is ignored for the purposes of this study in order to isolate the differences between alternative development scenarios, but it should be noted that the total population and housing unit capacity of the community will also be affected by the density of redevelopment within Anmore's already built areas.
MAYOR McEWEN: In my first two years as Mayor, I have had to educate Council as to the challenging financial position in the Village. One of our Finance Committees a number of years back saw the writing on the wall regarding the replacement of aging infrastructure and identified the need to make the kind of fiscally sound decisions called for in the Financial Sustainability Report. This report guides many of our current decisions.
The Financial Sustainability Report clearly shows that maintaining the current status quo isn't an option. With such a limited Taxation base, we need to consistently increase revenues to address our shortfall. We also need smarter more efficient developments. Every dollar that is spent in our Village needs to be heavily scrutinized.
Developments such as Pinnacle Ridge are not only environmentally challenging, they also burden the Village with significant infrastructure accommodating only a few homes. Much of the remaining undeveloped land in Anmore is on hillsides which require significant capital to develop. Collaboration, innovation and Village oversight will be required as development proceeds.
I truly believe that financial management is the key to our longer-term sustainability. To this end, I have worked to establish working relationships with neighbouring municipalities. Together we are cutting costs and increasing our service levels through joint ventures and cooperation.
Anmore Alternative Question: (August 2, 2016): "Managing growth is a very complex objective, especially given the `hot´ real estate market in Metro Vancouver. You should be congratulated for recognizing that while "the OCP is a guiding document it is not a rigid one and it needs to be responsive to our changing needs." The Anmore Official Community Plan calls for a medium growth scenario until 2034 of 61 people and an average of 21 lots per year. However recent development has exceeded this medium growth scenario many fold. With the Metro Vancouver `Rural´ designation, please describe the challenges faced by Council in managing growth in a fair and equitable way for long-term residents and developers alike."
MAYOR McEWEN: Firstly the pressures from development are upon us right now. Previous
Council decisions to zone all of Anmore RS-1 (one acre) in an effort to
secure rural growth has enabled large influxes
of wealth to buy these parcels and build large homes with pools, tennis
courts, etc, actually detracting from the rural components we all cherish so much.
However I believe that people have the right to
develop their land at their wishes. With the land being already zoned
the way it is, we as a Council cannot control RS-1 development. Therefore, at the moment, the growth
projections that you ask about are just that projections beyond our control.
As for our Official Community Plan, I believe it to be a guiding document in its entirety. However, from time to time, the real estate market and other circumstances outside of our control may force us to rethink portions of it. Right now, I feel the OCP is unfortunately falling short in protecting the Anmore sense of community and allowing our senior residents to age in place.
The Village depends heavily on community engagement and volunteerism through groups such as the Sasamat Volunteer Fire Dept, Garden Club, and the Scouts. Maintaining these requires affordable housing and encouraging families into our community.
As far as our seniors go, I'm constantly asked what we as a Council are doing to ensure those residents wanting to downsize have an opportunity to do so. I believe a combination of smaller lot/house developments as well as infill will begin to address their needs.
As a Council, I think we need to consider what incentives and alternatives we can offer to land owners in an effort to promote the growth we desire; smaller houses, clustering, and infill. Our Village is truly at a pivotal point. As a CTV reporter commented to me last week, ' if Anmore doesn't make the necessary changes we could become just like the Hamptons.' **
** The Hamptons, also called the "East End" (of Long Island), are a group of villages and hamlets in the towns of Southampton and East Hampton, which form the South Fork of Long Island, New York, U.S. The Hamptons form a popular seaside resort, one of the historical summer colonies of the American Northeast. The area features some of the most expensive and luxurious residential properties in the U.S.; in 2016, according to Business Insider, the 11962 ZIP code encompassing Sagaponack, within Southampton, was listed as the most expensive in the U.S., with a median home sale price of $8.5 million. (Wikipedia)
Anmore Alternative Question: (July 17, 2016):
the first two years of your four year term, please describe:
best successes as Mayor
biggest challenges as Mayor
Best Successes as Mayor;
- Establishing Accountability through staff and counci
- Establishing consistency. Everyone treated the same
- Follow through on plans - Parks Plan, creating a Village Center, rectifying shortfalls in the water system and implementing the Water Master Plan, making our roads safe.
- Developing solid relationships with neighbouring Tri-City jurisdictions.
Mayor McEwen joins other Tri-city Mayors at the Port Coquitlam Grand Pris
- Changing the mindset of the past.
- Establishing Anmore as a respected collaborator in Tri-City planning.
- Rethinking development to ensure a healthy viable Village.
- Establish a gathering spot.
- Financial sustainability.
Anmore Alternative Question: (July 10, 2016) : You were on Council for two
terms prior to becoming the Mayor of Anmore. All but one of the members is new
to Council. As well, there has been considerable change at the senior staff
level. Please describe both the challenges and opportunities posed by these
MAYOR McEWEN: “Thank you for the question. You
are absolutely correct in your assessment of challenges both at the council and
staff levels, but these challenges have largely been opportunities for me to
share my experience and help to educate the new members.
At the Council level, there
are so many lessons that I learned over my six years as a Councillor which I
have shared with members of Council. I think the most important lesson that I
learned is how to differentiate Council’s role from that of staff. The new
Council members have quickly come to understand that the Mayor and Council set
overall policy and direction. The Chief Administrative Officer and staff are
responsible for implementation and operations.
With the changes in Council
members and staff one major challenge has been the need for continuity and
setting out of the facts and history of particular issues that we are dealing
with. The need to orient new members takes much more time than I would like.
However, I think that the presentation of the unbiased information helps to
inform them so that we can make sound decisions on the issues before us.
At the Staff level, we have
been very fortunate in hiring extremely qualified candidates to fill vacant senior positions such as the new Chief Administrative Officer, and Building Inspector/Bylaw Officer. These new candidates offer a fresh start with fresh ideas. The Village also benefits from the
breadth of education and experience of our new staff. We are hoping this will help offset some of our consulting fees as some full-time staff play double roles. For example, Ms
Kolby is both CAO and Chief Financial Officer.
Anmore Council also gets the
added benefits of the synergies, experience, and contacts the new personnel
bring from their past employment. For example, rather than re-inventing the
wheel, Ms Kolby recently called her previous contacts in Port Moody to get
their policy on purchasing which she helped develop to help in the formulation of a similar policy in
Anmore. Fostering these relationships helps to assign meeting room space for our meetings during this
period of transition with the Village Hall.