Wednesday, November 4, 2020

November 2 Council Meeting: COVID-19 costs impact City projects, task groups extended, and sanitizer wipes gumming up sewage pumps

On Monday afternoon, Langley City council heard two delegations from the public. The first delegation was by Brendan Martin and Marilyn Konstapel from World Beyond War. They requested that the City divest from fossil fuel and weapons. They also asked that council supporting “Mayors’ for Peace.”

In BC, the Municipal Finance Authority provides pooled investment funds that offer short-term fossil-fuel-free bonds. There has been an on-going push to divest from fossil fuel by BC municipalities. I would expect that more fossil-fuel-free investment options will become available over time.

Councillor Storteboom stated that he would be putting forward a motion regarding the World Beyond War delegation.

Trevor Dinwoodie delivered a delegation on behalf of the National Police Federation, the union for RCMP members. He presented on the Surrey Police Transition and noted that the transition could increase policing cost in Langley City if Surrey does not stay a part of the Lower Mainland’s integrated police services such as IHIT (Homicide Team.)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has incurred $155,500 in costs to date. Some of the expenses relate to new COVID-19 signage, purchasing of cleaning supplies, physical distancing measures, new glass partitions at service counters, and purchasing personal protective equipment. The City has also incurred increased overtime costs as staff responded rapidly to closures at the start of the pandemic.

Also, people have been flushing hand sanitizer wipes down toilets, resulting in additional servicing of sewer pump stations.

As a result, staff proposed to defer several projects into future years to create a buffer for COVID-19 related expenses. The projects deferred include “Welcome to Langley City” signage, some outdoor improvements a City Hall, and the Urban Forest Management study. A total of $358,000 in proposed deferred projects is on the table.

Throughout the year, projects get adjusted. Even if there is no impact on the City’s bottom line, council must approve a budget amendment.

Council gave first, second, and third reading to amend the Financial Plan for 2020-24. For more information, please read the staff report on the amendment.

Council also voted to extend the following task groups:
Arts and Culture Task Group
Crime Prevention Task Group
Economic Development Task Group
Environmental Task Group
Performing Arts and Cultural Centre Task Group

Previously, Langley City had a two-sentence policy on minute-taking standards adopted 20 years ago. To ensure that council, committee, and task group minutes are consistent and follow best-practices, council approved a robust minute-taking standard.

Finally, council received a report from staff about solar-powered equipment such as speed reader boards, flashers, and streetlights. Staff use the following when determining if solar-powered equipment should be purchased:

  • Equipment needs to be relocated on a semi-frequent basis
  • Installing and maintaining solar-powered equipment is more cost-efficient
  • Grid electricity is not available within a feasible distance where equipment will be installed

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