Sunday January 29, 2012

City Hall News

The Municipal Rub

The Restorative Justice Association looks good for another year

Voice/Staff

 

he following are highlights from the City of Chilliwack council meeting January 23.

 

The Community Policing Society

The CPS was looking for funding for the next year and submitted an application through the Community Development Funding Program (CDIF) to have their annual amount increased from possibly $180,000.00 to $186,000.00. If not they'd settle for less, like $183,000.00. The Society has not had an increase in funding for 3-years.

 

According to council agenda, the Society provides community-based policing services, such as Citizens on Patrol, Block Watch, Grow Watch, Crime Free Multi-family Housing and an Access Centre for the public out of the downtown office on Wellington Avenue.

 

CPS explains in the document that because of a soured economy, they've had a "sharp" decrease in public donations and parking revenues that the group generates from Heritage Park events are down as well.

 

The Society has been facing "inflationary pressure" for things such as office supplies, salaries and an increase in the rent on the Wellington Ave. storefront office. 

 

Any surplus funds generated by the Society are used to purchase vehicles, equipment and general maintenance of their leased building.

 

Staff recommended that council approve the maximum amount requested.

 

Chilliwack RCMP Inspector Grant Wilson reiterated in his application support letter, how the Society has been hit harder over the last year in generating revenue.

 

"As with many other non-profit organizations in this current economic climate, the Society is facing financial pressures."

 

Coun. Jason Lum listens to a motion to approve funding to the Society.

 

"Over the past 2 years, at Council's request, we have reduced our operating surplus," he said, adding that "these extra funds were used to purchase a used vehicle for citizens on patrol in 2011, to fund some additional training for the Victims Services volunteers, and to cover wage increases."

 

According to Wilson, when the group signed a new lease, the rent went up $100 a month and because they have no agreement with Chilliwack Tourism regarding parking at Heritage Park, they will be losing that source of income.

 

About Chilliwack Community Policing Society

The mandate of the Society is to manage the Victims Services program and other volunteer-based community policing programs such as Block Watch, Speed Watch, Crime Free Multi-family housing and Citizens on Patrol.

 

The Society also provides a store-front where the public can access information.

 

The programs run with 3 full-time and 3 part time staff plus 100+ volunteers and are housed in the downtown substation office on Wellington Ave. All the staff and volunteers work closely with the RCMP to improve citizen safety.

 

The downtown office had over 3500 policing-related requests from the public through phone calls or walk-ins. Speedwatch monitored thousands of vehicles each month for speeding on major routes. Citizens on Patrol checked thousands of vehicle plates, looking for stolen vehicles and spent many hours on patrol. Crime Free Multifamily Housing has 26 rental buildings certified with 38 more in progress. Block Watch currently has over 400 active blocks with 50 in progress.

 

The general policing services provided through these groups reduces both crime and policing costs. Manned by over 100 volunteers the various programs provide eyes and ears on the streets of the City reporting suspicious incidents to the RCMP. The Victims Services program provides 24/7 support to victims of crime and sudden death. The Victims Services program is required by the Province and as such its funding is shared by the City and the Province of BC


The accounting firm KPMG went over the books and found them to have no irregularities.

 

This motion was passed by council.

 

 

Walking To Remember 

Kostrzewa honoured at this year's Alzheimer's walk January 29

 

Ron Angell, Volunteer Chair, Fraser Valley "Walk for Memories" Alzheimer Society of BC was in chambers and gave an overview of this year's walk on January 29.

 

See the Voice’s coverage of this story here.

 

 

Repair, Restore, Rebuild

Teaching kids about responsibility

 

The Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Association (CRJYAA) also submitted an application for $34,500 in funding through 2012.

 

Coun. Ken Popove listens to motion to approve funding for the Association.

 

According to the Association's supporting letter, the CRJYAA provides a valuable service to the community and the City has provided funding for their programs for a number of years. Two years ago funding was increased from $28,000 to $31,500 to help offset inflationary pressures that CRJYAA was experiencing at the time.

 

"At present, the organization has a healthy surplus of $96,385 which represents more than one year's operating expenses. The association does not have any significant assets that will need future replacement, such as a vehicle, that would require significant surplus funds," said the City's Financial Officer.

 

Aside from the annual funding, the City also provides space, utilities and office supplies to the Association which is housed within the downtown Community Policing Society Office on Wellington Ave.

 

"Continued support from the City is paramount in our ability to provide restorative programs to young and first time offenders in our community. We are grateful for the support previously provided to our Association and look forward to our continued partnership," said Kim McLandress, CRJYAA director in her letter of support. "The organization prides itself on being lean and efficient while handling one of the largest case loads in the province."

 

"We recognize the financial challenges City Council faces in these difficult economic times, nevertheless the restorative programs we deliver are extremely important to our community and we believe merit the City's support."

 

This motion was passed by council.

 

 

About CRJYAA

Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Association is a volunteer based program aimed at fostering a safe and caring community by administering restorative justice programs. The mandate of the program is to bring offenders and victims together to discuss criminal incidents and to find ways to repair the harm caused. The Association has been in operation since 1998 and during this time has been extremely successful in connecting youth with their community, providing mentoring to young offenders, providing a forum for victims, and facilitating the payment of monetary restitution to victims by offenders.

 

What They Do

  • Involve the victim, the offender and the community in the restorative process and resolution.

  • Develop relevant, reasonable and restorative resolutions.

  • Increase offenders awareness of how their actions affect others.

  • Facilitate restitution from offenders to victims when appropriate.

  • Encourage a supportive and caring environment through advocacy and mentoring.

  • Aid participants to gain self-worth through the restorative process.

Chilliwack Restorative Justice holds offenders accountable to their victims, the community, and assists them to make appropriate amends and repair the harm done by an offense. As an alternative to the formal criminal justice system, restorative justice provides support to both victims and offenders, allowing an incident to be resolved directly between the affected parties without going to court.

 

The program has been in operation since June 1998 and is recognized as being a leader among restorative justice groups in British Columbia.

 

In 2010 they recorded a large increase in referrals with 215 files opened as compared to 159 in 2009.  Since the inception of the program they have assisted in the payment of over $92,000 in restitution to victims.

 

Referrals come from the Upper Fraser Valley RCMP and the community. They work closely with the Chilliwack School District, although they don't receive referrals directly from them, many of the occurrences are school related and are referred by the RCMP.

 

Referrals also come from Loss Prevention officers. The 'Quick Release"

program has proven beneficial to both the RCMP and retail businesses, both as a timesaver and cost-saver, as the handling of minor shoplifting incidents is more efficient with less intervention from police members.

 

The support for our programs is evident by the tremendous community support we receive from our partners. The RCMP make use of the program whenever possible, local businesses have been supportive with referrals and donations, over 70 volunteers donate hundreds of hours. Operation Rednose enjoys support from almost all the service clubs in the city.

 

Participants are asked to provide comments on their experience with restorative justice and since 2002  and according to CRJYAA, close to 99% of 900 respondents rated their experience with the Association as satisfactory or very satisfactory.

 

Restitution to victims is another major benefit of our program. Personal victims and local businesses receive compensation for vandalism, damage or theft. In most case, recovery of costs or losses would not have been experienced without our program.

 

The program relies on our community for financial support to sustain current operations and for future growth. The City of Chilliwack as well as some local businesses provides in-kind support for office and meeting space. We received in-kind legal, accounting and other expertise from agencies and board members.

 

215 referrals were received in 2010 and processed using two models - 141 in a Community Accountability Panel (CAP) and 74 Community Justice Forums (CJF). The number of referrals since inception is 1873. Our successful completion rate is 81%.

 

Documents showed that $70,000 of the Association's annual $80,000 operating budget are for wages. The Chilliwack RCMP donated $29,500.00 worth of office supplies, telephone and facilities. CRJYAA recieved $26,077.00 

 

Chilliwack Community Policing Office

45877 Wellington Ave, Chilliwack, BC V2P 2C8

Phone Number: (604) 393-3023

Website: Restoring Justice.ca Contact via e-mail here.

 

 

Book Budget Time

Grant money tied into area population

 

The Fraser Valley Regional Library submitted their budget proposal for council's review. A weighted vote will happen at the FVRL board meeting February 22, 2012.

 

Coun. Ken Huttema talks about the Fraser Regional Library 2012 budget.

 

The Library Act stipulates that budget votes are conducted by a weighted vote.  According to documents submitted, the Act, each member community receives one vote plus one additional vote for each complete 1,000 after the first 1,000 of the population of the community. The provincial government's Libraries and Literacy office issues the official service area population statistics annually with the provincial grants.

 

For more information, visit: www.fvrl.com

 

 

A Paramount Plan

Council weeds out theatre plan proposals

 

The short answer to this project? Money. Lots of it. The building will be a hole in the ground that someone is going to have to pour money into or it will meet the same fate as the Empress Hotel.  Lots of it, just to meet specs. The City has made it clear they aren't going to be involved with the restoration of the building financially. It remains to be seen if the City will provide any incentives like waiving DCC charges etc.

 

On November 5, 2010 Landmark Cinemas gifted the Paramount Theatre on Yale Rd. to the City. Since that time, the City has been looking at proposals from various groups. The City is not prepared to help with funding so whichever group takes over the building has to upgrade it to current standards and provide proof of the financial means to partake in the renovation project.

 

The evaluation team looked at two proposals; from Revolution Church and Protocol Developments. Both were found to not meet the requirements the City laid out and were disqualified.

 

 

Other Business

 

The Cultural Centre Naming Rights

The board signed 2-year agreements with Lidstone &.Company for the Duo Studio and Dressing Room A will be named the "Envision Financial Dressing Room".

 

 

Marijuana Grow OP Show Cause Hearing

The Hearing is in respect to the owner meeting the health and safety requirements in accordance with the City's Nuisance, Noxious or Offensive Trades, Health and Safety Bylaw No. 3044, as a result of a marihuana grow operation at 41848 Marble Hill Road where alterations were made to the home's interior.

 

Initially, the owner had until September 30 to restore the home to the minimum health and safety standards.

 

The owner didn't meet the deadline and the City is prepared to take away title of the property.

 

A speaker talks about another rezoning issue at the night session.

 

According to City documents, "the Bylaw requires that within 30 days, all carpets and curtains in the premise must be removed or cleaned, any forced air heating ducts in the premise must be cleaned, and all walls and ceilings must be cleaned and disinfected.

 

That work must be carried out by a Professional Cleaner with experience in removing contaminants from a Residential Premise. The Professional Cleaner must hold a licence to carry on business in the City of Chilliwack. After the cleaning is completed, a qualified professional must certify that the premises are free from pesticides, fertilizer, toxic moulds, chemicals and fungus."

 

The Voice spoke with city staff afterward regarding what happens when there is a show cause hearing. This is done so that if the owner tries to sell the home, the purchaser will know about the remedial work that needs to be done before the home is classed as habitable once again.

 

Transit Plan Status Report

Michelle Orfield from BC Transit was in council to present council with a draft implementation strategy for the 5 to 25-year plan for transit within the city which will include some rounds of public consultations.

 

The analysis was begun in earnest in the spring 2011 followed by an update last fall to council with feedback from public consultations.

 

The plan includes what is called Network Vision and had a regional workshop from which to pull more data from.

 

Orfield said that they had new information come to light around 2008 FVRD travel data around the Fraser Valley.

 

The least popular trip to the most popular trip:

 

Chilliwack to Mission was the least popular trip.

Chilliwack to Agassiz and Harrison and Hope approximately 6,800 trips a day.

Chilliwack to Metro Vancouver which is largely Surrey Centre and Langley City Centre just under 18,000 daily trips.

Chilliwack to Abbotsford, Abbotsford to Mission and Mission to Vancouver all had 27,000 trips daily.

 

Orfield said that 68 per cent of Chilliwackians take transit to work within the city and said this will be a focus area for BC Transit within the parameters of the plan. She also said that 14% of the trips begin in Chilliwack and end in Abbotsford, 4% end in Langley and 3% to Kent-Harrison and Surrey.

 

The figures for the Draft were generated from MOTI, Translink and BC Transit including HandiDart service, from Hope to Chilliwack and the Upper Fraser Valley using information from approximately half a million passengers in Chilliwack.

 

"The top prioroity for this plan is for the City of Chilliwack is getting to Abbotsford, establishing a transit link," she said adding that "in 25-years, we anticipate that that frequency on the routes will be 15 minutes in the peak, so that's 6 A.M. to 9 A.M. and the 2 P.M. to 5 P.M. or 3 P.M. to 6 P.M. area and then 30 minutes off-peak. midday, evenings and early mornings."

 

Second down the list is to increase service between Agassiz-Harrison and Chilliwack and in 25-years that will get to a 30 minute peak, 60 minutes off-peak frequency.

 

Hope will see a peak-only  connection in the form of a commuter service along Highway 1 at some point in the future but no timeline was offered and midday service along Highway 9 connecting Hope-Agassiz-Chilliwack.

 

Existing Chilliwack service covers hourly service on 11 hour a day schedule from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M.

 

Orfield said BC Transit is operating at a 26.5% cost recovery but is optimistic that figure will go up as the routes and schedules are adjusted.

 

This year or the next, Orfield said that BC Transit will implement trips with frequencies of 20 minutes for Vedder trips, 30 minute cyclical trips around the downtown area, 60 minute Evans Rd. trips and a 60 minute Sardis trips.

 

"The nice thing about the puple (Sardis) route," explained Orfield "is that people will have many opportunities to connect with the red (Vedder) route."

 

Currently, there is no Sunday bus service in Chilliwack, however in the new plan Sunday buses will run from 10 A.M to 6 P.M. albeit evenutally, but we transit users shouldn't expect Sunday service until 2013 at least.

 

Buses won't run that late. Service will be MOnday to Wednesday 6 A.M. to 7 P.M., Thursday to Saturday 6 A.M. to 10 P.M. and on Sunday from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.

 

Yarrow-Greendale will continue to see Saturday bus service and the Cultus Lake route will also remain unchanged from it's current schedule. Expanded service will include Seabird Island on the Agassiz-Harrison route.

 

It's no Vancouver Kootenay Loop of the 1960's but it's all we've got — for now.

 

Orfield says that plans are in the works to review the downtown transit facility.

 

BC Transit will introduce a Chilliwack-Abbotsford Express service once the aforementioned is in place. Holiday Service should be in place sometime in 2013. Sunday service will be improved.

 

No one wants to wait for an hour at a bus stop, especially in inclement weather, BC Transit acknowledges this, and will work to establishing a 30 minute frequency on all routes in peak periods.

 

Seniors will benefit from the new schedule when BC Transit identifies hot zones and areas with more residents who would use the service so more options in terms of shopping routes for them will be added eventually.

 

Orfield lauded plans for the "Evans Line" will be implemented with a frequency of 20 minutes. So instead of just running to the mall, it will be created as an alertnative route to Vedder Rd.

 

Once that happens, "you can get anywhere in Chilliwack with one transfer...and should be a pretty slick service."

 

Coun. Lum asked Orfield how many trips were generated between UFV campuses in Abbotsford and Chilliwack and if there were plans to bring in electronic fare boxes.

 

On the question of campus-generated trips, to which Orfield replied saying that she would refer back with staff adding that there are plans to roll out fare boxes on Chilliwack in the not-too-distant future.

 

Mayor Sharon Gaetz closed by saying that she was looking forward to the public consultations. "People are going to be very pleased, especially with the 20 minute turnaround.

 

BC Transit plans public consultations on the draft plan sometime in late February or early March which will allow riders the chance to give feedback on the new proposal.

 

For more information, visit: www.chilliwack.com and follow the links to council meeting, agenda and archived video.

 

 

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