From the Bear Pit
Regional Council Meeting News
August 9, 2021 Regional Council Meetings
Great Northern Circle Route Signage
The masterplan will save civic funds and time by designing a unified signage standard to promote our destination and improve the visitor experience with a recognizable and distinct sign program. This $1M investment of signage infrastructure throughout Northern BC is funded through the Province of BC's Targeted Regional Tourism Development fund with a substantial contribution from Tourism BC. NBCTA Signage Masterplan Website
2021-Q4 Grants-in-Aid
The grants-in-aid budget is well under the 2021 maximum of $20,000 and all three applications were approved for this last quarter:
  • Fort Nelson Family Development Society - $1,000
  • Mile 300 Figure Skating Club - $1,000
  • Northern Rockies Arts Council - $1,000

Non-Profit Bookkeeping Transition to In-House
Earlier this year, the NRRM received direction that was intended to remove municipal involvement in the accounting processes of municipally-funded not-for-profit organizations by September 1, 2021.
Both the Phoenix Theatre and Fort Nelson Public Library requested an extension. To avoid the difficulties of a mid-year transition, both organizations will move to their own bookkeeping systems by December 31, 2021 year-end.
Playschool Lease Renewal
Regional Council approved the Fort Nelson Playschool Lease Renewal with the same terms as the previous lease.
Online Credit Card Payments for Property Taxes
and Utility Billing
Currently, credit card payments are not accepted for property tax and utility bill payments, as the potential service charges incurred can be significant and would be borne by the municipality.

In the coming months, the NRRM will be launching Virtual City Hall (VCH), an e-commerce software providing user-friendly service for customers to make payments, review balances and obtain payment details. VCH also offers credit card service charges of 1% or less of the transaction amount for taxes, utility bills and other municipal services paid online by credit card. Once VCH is implemented, credit card payment for all municipal billing will be available through their platform only, with a customer service fee of 1% of the payment amount to be borne by the customer.
New BC Parks Campground at Muncho Lake Planned
The NRRM sent a letter to the Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, expressing support of opening a new Provincial Campground at Muncho Lake. The privately owned Muncho Lake Lodge and RV Park was purchased by BC Parks in 2020 with the goal of providing additional campground in the Muncho Lake area. An additional campground is needed given that existing campgrounds are often full in the busy summer months.
NRRM sent a letter to the Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, regarding the removal of the Nonda Tower Road Bridge located approximately 9 km from the Toad River community. NRRM has been in discussions with staff from BC Parks and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) since early 2020 regarding this matter.
Despite the implementation of 911 service this year, sporadic wireless coverage remains a public safety concern, since residents and visitors cannot access emergency services in areas without cell service. Staff are working with Pomax Consulting to assess the feasibility of installing 911 Connection Points to provide wireless coverage at particular sites adjacent to the Alaska Highway. After determining extent of wireless coverage along the highway, a multi-phase plan can be developed, with the first stage anticipated to be the installation of approximately three connection points.
Council approved two letters of support to be provided to John Ebell, Geothermal Project Manager, Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal (a subsidiary of Deh Tai LP) expressing support of grant applications:
Regional Health Advocacy Initiative
Contracted Regional Health Advocate, Mr. Doug Blackie provided Council with an update on recent activities, which included meetings with president and CEO of Northern Health C. Ulrich, BC Seniors' Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie and MODO Cooperative representative, Sylvain Celaire.

A community workshop is planned for mid-September to bring together a cross-section of stakeholders including health care, community agencies, business industry and government to review the strategy and focus on commitments from each partner to advance the goal to achieve equitable access health services for the Northern Rockies. Regional Health Advocacy Initiative August 9, 2021 Update
Virtual Attendance by Council at In Camera Meetings
Administration Report No. 49/21 regarding virtual attendance at in camera meetings was discussed.

It was resolved that Councillor Roper be permitted to attend in camera meetings virtually for the remaining duration of his term. It was also resolved that Councillor Gerwing be permitted to attend the August 9, 2021 In Camera Council meeting virtually.

Council will discuss amending the NRRM Procedure Bylaw at a future meeting.
Also of note
  • Regional Council adopted Board of Variance Bylaw No. 195, 2021 to update and repeal Bylaw No.166, 2005. As an alternative to applying for a development variance permit from a local government, a person may apply to the board of variance if they feel compliance with the bylaw would cause them hardship relating to matters such as siting, dimensions and size of buildings. Bylaw Report No. 195, 2021

  • Council supported an application to the Municipal Insurance Association of BC’s Associate Member program with Bernard Hubert Contracting, acknowledging the risks associated, for a period ending August 9, 2022. Administration Report No. 55/21

  • Regional Council approved the waiver of the NRRM Purchasing Policy to enter into a short-term agreement for Landfill Operations & Maintenance with Wide Sky Disposal (1989) Ltd. ending October 31, 2021as they prepare for the open procurement, analysis and award of separated Landfill Operations and Maintenance and Weigh Scale Operations. Administration Report #56/21

  • Regional Council showed their support for the 2021 Business Walks Program (September 20-27, 2021) which invites business owners to speak to the experience of operating within the Northern Rockies. Administration Report #57/21