At Monday’s council meeting, Fruitvale councillors made the decision to support the Beaver Valley Blooming Society (BVBS) in its efforts to reduce the amount of weeding the group does around the village.
Holly Gordon of the society presented a request to council asking for a letter of endorsement to accompany the group’s grant applications.
“What we want to do is cut down on our work,” she told council, adding that the members of the society are aging and can’t do as much manual work on the landscaping.
“Our knees are going and we are all getting older, but it’s (the village’s) property and we need permission to go ahead.”
The BVBS plans to start at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall by digging up the surrounding area and laying down landscape cloth to prevent weeds from growing up through the limestone rock that blankets the area.
The society is applying for a $5,000 grant from the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs for the project. If their application is successful, the BVBS will also receive a matched grant for another $5,000 from Area A.
The only hurdle the society faced was getting permission from council.
“We need a letter from council in order to proceed,” said Gordon, adding that the group also wants to spray certain areas with fertilizer.
“We also need a waiver for spraying, which we will be doing with an iron chelate spray – Fiesta. It is organic and isn’t considered a herbicide.”
Lila Cresswell, chief administrative officer, mentioned the only thing the village would have to contribute was a few man hours to move the parking barriers at the hall.
Council concluded that it would happily support the BVBS in its grant applications and passed a motion to write a letter and supply a spray waiver.
In other council matters, members were split in half when it came to supporting a nomination for Joseph Cecchini, a skeleton racer from Fruitvale, for the Home of Champions monument in downtown Trail.
Council received a letter from Lisa Pasin, president of the Greater Trail Home of Champions Society (GTHCS), requesting nominations for the monument and village staff put forth Joe Cecchini’s name for his work representing Canada and Italy in skeleton – a winter sled racing event.
Councillor James Ellison was against the idea because the athlete wasn’t currently representing Canada in competition.
“I started to look into this and I looked at the 142 people who are already up on the monument,” he told council. “I went through about 60 of them and they all competed on behalf of Canada, not on behalf of Italy. I’ve read his bio.”
Councillor Bert Kniss also disagreed with supporting the nomination, but for a different reason.
“I don’t have a problem with his qualifications at all,” he said. “I am concerned about how this will appear to people if it is Fruitvale’s council endorsing the mayor’s son. I think it would hold more weight coming from his friends or somebody outside of council nominates him.”
Councillors Steve Morissette and Tabatha Webber disagreed and when a vote was taken, it ended in a 2-2 tie. CAO Cresswell mentioned that it was likely another community group would be putting forth a nomination for Cecchini.
Under the Community Charter and the Local Government Act, a tie vote leads to a negative result, and the motion to support the nomination died.
Next on the agenda, policy surrounding the rental fees for Fruitvale Memorial Hall was up for discussion.
Cresswell revealed that the hall has a lower cost recovery percentage than Montrose because of the cleaning and maintenance costs the village incurs are higher than the fees they collect. The village also received a complaint from the local Lion’s Club about their fee being reduced only 15 per cent while the local Rotary has their rental fees reduced by 81 per cent.
Councillors discussed their options around creating policy that would be equal and allow the village to break even on hall expenses.
Councillor Ellison suggested that fees get increased over a period of time, lowering the impact on clubs that use the facility.
“Let’s say we doubled the (Rotary’s $26 rental fee) this year, and you eventually want to get up to $115 to rent a room,” he said. “Charging the Rotary Club $60 isn’t outlandish. They can carry that for a couple of years, then maybe another $25 added in a few years, that kind of thing.”
Councillor Tabatha Webber wants the fee schedule to be fair to all groups using the space, adding that the rental charges the village collects have to be at least enough to cover the cleaning cost.
“The deductions for the social groups need to be the same – fair,” she said, adding that a percentage discount may be the way to go. “But, it should at least cover the cleaning costs of rooms. We shouldn’t be getting taxpayers to pay that.”
It was decided, after a lengthy discussion, to ask Cresswell to put together a breakdown of what it costs the village to run the hall versus what they were charging renters. The breakdown will be presented and discussed at the next Committee of the Whole meeting on March 16 at 6:30 p.m.
The next regular council meeting is on March 30 at 6:30 p.m.