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Gibsons council deals with pay, pot

Gibsons council deals with pay, pot

At its first public business meeting on Nov. 20, the new Gibsons council prepared to give itself a raise.  A bylaw proposing increases of $8,515 for the mayor and $5,399 for each of the four councillors received three readings.   This would bring annual pay for the mayor to $40,000 and councillors to $20,000.

Gibsons councillors moved on Nov. 20 to give themselves a pay raise to offset the elimination of a federal tax break. Left to right, Councillors Aleria Ladwig and Stafford Lumley, Mayor Bill Beamish, and Councillors Annmarie de Andrade and David Croal. Connie Jordison photo

Without the increase, council members face a reduction in take-home pay in the new year. Changes to federal income tax law will remove the tax-free status of the first third of their pay.

Cost of living adjustments (COLA) are applied to council pay rates each year.   Mayor Beamish asked that a motion to waive Council’s 2019 COLA be considered when the pay adjustment bylaw comes forward for adoption at the Dec. 4 meeting.

Council finalized a recommendation to BC’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) supporting a cannabis retail licence for The Healing Hut on Marine Drive. Pending LCRB processing, this could be the first licenced retail marijuana shop on the Coast. Two letters of support and no complaints about the operation were received during a three-week public comment process on the licence application.

Rainforest Compassion Club’s application for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) for its cannabis store on Gibsons Way was commented on by four members of the public at the meeting. Concerns centered on odors from the store impacting residents who share the building.  Gibsons director of planning, Lesley-Ann Staats, stated that the permit would require installation of a hepa-filter odour abatement system. Although new for Gibsons, the system is recommended for odour issues by other municipalities. It was noted that the club has applied for LCRB licencing. Brenda Harris, co-owner of The Healing Hut, commented that LCRB product packaging is sealed to reduce odors.

Council approved the TUP for a term of two years.  It asked staff to consult with the community and develop a policy on cannabis retailing during this period.  The Town is currently processing TUPs for two additional marijuana stores.  A one-year TUP for S & M Sweet Shop is scheduled to be considered by council after a public comment period.  This retailer focuses on edible cannabis and is not eligible for an LCRB licence.

Work on three applications that could bring senior government funding to the Town was authorized.  Staff will be preparing submissions for at least a half million dollars in cycling and pedestrian network improvements, a $900,000 stormwater storage pond at White Tower Park (behind the Gibson’s Aquatic Centre) and a FireSmart program plan to help protect the community from interface forest fires. Applications will come before council for finalization.

Efforts to include a youth representative on the council moved forward at the meeting. Staff were asked to prepare terms of reference, bylaw amendments and a 2019 budget of $2,250 to pay the representative. Council wants to have these in place by the end of 2018.  In preparation, Town Chief Administrative Officer Emanuel Machado has given up his seat at the council table to make room for the youth representative.

Connie Jordison

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