Sechelt councillors were in favour of a proposal for a bicycle skills park in downtown Sechelt during their committee of the whole meeting Feb. 13.
Scott Barkemeyer of the Capilano University mountain bike program and Gary Jackson of Off the Edge bike shop presented the pump track proposal, saying they already had $40,000 in in-kind contributions for the project — enough to build it now.
“A pump track is an outdoor, low-risk cycling venue. It is an oval loop with undulating terrain consisting of bumps and berms that riders pump, instead of pedal to propel themselves,” Barkemeyer said.
The proposed location for the pump track is the empty lot owned by the District of Sechelt off Trail Avenue by the hydro lines. Currently the lot is overgrown with blackberry bushes.
Proponents asked council for use of the lands, preconstruction help, park designation of the area, suitable insurance, signage, fencing and benches.
A staff report showed about $5,000 would be needed for the requested signage, fencing and benches.
Councillors recommended authorizing the construction of the pump track, but noted neighbours would have to be consulted and noise and liability issues would have to be worked out.
Mayor John Henderson announced Coun. Alice Lutes will return to some of her committee liaison appointments; however, she will not be reinstated as Sechelt’s representative at the Sunshine Coast Regional District board.
Lutes was stripped of the duties when council found she had offered a warning to a senior staffer via email that he may be fired, which was deemed a breach of confidentiality.
“While you’re aware that some on council continue to have concerns about past events, it’s my feeling that we need to look to the future and all of us need to work on ensuring that we do what’s best for Sechelt, so I welcome you back to some of the committees,” Henderson said.
Lutes was reinstated as liaison to the accessibility advisory committee and affordable housing committee and as alternate to the Sechelt Public Library Association board and Southern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory committee.
She said she would try to keep the commitments, but said she may have to go back to work to deal with “unexpected financial issues.”
Fire hall expansion
The Sechelt Volunteer Fire Department has outgrown its current space and needs to expand, councillors heard Wednesday.
The department put forward a proposal to build an addition of approximately 70 square metres to provide extra training space for the 45 volunteer members and to house their vintage fire truck.
Henderson questioned the need to stay downtown, asking if satellite stations could be an option, but Fire Chief Bill Higgs said the older commercial buildings tightly packed downtown posed a large fire risk and necessitated a nearby fire hall.
Councillors were in favour of moving forward with the fire department’s proposal, and directed staff to draft the required official community plan and zoning amendment bylaws to support it.
After a lengthy debate about the proposed increase to development cost charges (DCC) in the District, councillors decided to table the issue until the March 27 committee of the whole meeting.
The DCCs currently collected by the District haven’t been changed in almost ten years, but some of the proposed rates are nearly triple what’s currently being collected.
Coun. Chris Moore was strongly against the increase saying it would negatively impact new building projects.
“This is putting water on the little fire we’ve got going right now,” he said.
Some suggested increasing rates incrementally or over an extended period of time, but they couldn’t agree on how to roll out the change or even if such large increases were necessary.
Currently the District is looking at increasing DCCs for single family home by $5,410, by $414 for a townhouse, by $3,549 for a congregate care building, by $15.80 per square metre for commercial buildings, by $7.76 per square metre for industrial buildings and by $15.80 per square metre for institutional buildings.
Henderson announced two new standing committees he’s create-d — business development and human resources.
“The former will be charged with leading the District’s efforts in promoting Sechelt and ensuring the District retain a strong focus on this facet of its strategy in 2013,” Henderson reported. “The human resources committee will be responsible for supporting the District’s bargaining committee during the upcoming collective bargaining process. I envision this committee also providing ongoing advice and support to the District’s various human resources initiatives.”