Sechelt council received its 2013 annual report on June 18, along with a series of questions from Davis Bay resident Bruce Milne.
The only member of the gallery to speak to the report when council invited questions, Milne asked for clarification on things like the golf course takeover, the creation of Sechelt Innovations Ltd. (SIL) and money spent on legal fees.
He questioned if SIL was indeed created “after considerable public input,” as Mayor John Henderson wrote in the report.
“We had, I believe, two charettes with one [that] at least 100-some-odd people attended as a prelude to ‘how are we going to implement?’ so I think I stand by the words,” Henderson said.
Milne also brought up the fact that between 2012 and 2013 the District spent thousands on the golf course take over.
“The golf course adventure ended up, more or less, at about $573,000,” Milne said.
“That’s why we lay it out there so people can see that,” Henderson noted.
Another large expense Milne called into question was the amount attributed to legal fees in the report — about $585,000.
“That seemed like a lot of money to spend for a small District, $585,000, and I wondered, as the mayor of an entrepreneurial council, if you’d actually thought about bringing that in house for that kind of money?” Milne asked.
In reply Henderson said, “I don’t know that we’ve thought about it explicitly, but the issue is you can’t hire two or three people and get the diversity of experience that we need. We have human resources legal council, we have finance lawyers, we have court reporters, commercial lawyers, and so I think it’s fair to say, to your point, we’re paying about $225 to $240 an hour for the average because some are more expensive and some are less. But the diversity of work that we need, because of the range of services we provide, we couldn’t do it on two or three people. They wouldn’t have those range of skills.”
Sign amendment bylaw
Council adopted changes to their sign bylaw on June 18 and then asked staff to consider taking it further.
The new sign bylaw regulates on- and off-site real estate marketing signs and temporary construction signs, but Henderson noted for-sale signs are “also a problem.”
He said visitors have asked him “what’s wrong with Sechelt?” after seeing dozens of for-sale signs in the District.
“I’m concerned. This is not the first time I’ve had this comment from people, and in this day and age where most of us don’t need to actually go to the house to see what’s inside, because the real estate agents do such a good job with pictures on the Internet, I think those for-sale signs do us a disservice,” Henderson said.
While some felt the signs might be missed, council asked staff to contact the Coast’s real estate organization to discuss other options.
Motions by Hockley
Three motions brought forward by Coun. Doug Hockley were referred to other organizations for more discussion June 18.
The motions asked for new welcoming arches over the highway into Sechelt, converting the municipal hall’s tower into a mock lighthouse and placing wildlife sculptures around Sechelt.
Council referred the welcoming arches and tower conversion requests to the downtown revitalization committee for discussion and asked staff to consider the proposals next year.
The wildlife sculpture motion was referred to the District’s arts coordinator to see how the request might fit into the enhanced public art acquisition program.
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