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Establishing harbours committee approved by Powell River Council

Vote passes for a body to advise council on concerns and issues at three locations in Westview
KEEPING INFORMED: City of Powell River councillors voted to set up a harbour users advisory committee, made up of members of the public, councillors and staff, to keep city council in the loop about concerns and issues regarding the three harbours in Westview.

City of Powell River Council has voted to establish a harbour users advisory committee with the purpose to advise council on concerns and issues regarding north and south harbours and the Wharf at Westview.

At the October 19 city council meeting, councillor George Doubt brought forward a proposed motion for the formation of the committee. The motion, in addition to recommending the formation, recommended that council direct staff to collaborate with Doubt and councillors Rob Southcott and Jim Palm to create draft terms of reference, including an application procedure for the committee, to be approved by council. The composition will be comprised of users of the three harbours, city staff and a limited number of councillors.

Doubt said the initiative arose from consultations the city had in the spring of 2022.

“We have three harbours and each one is a little different from the other,” said Doubt. “The north harbour tends to be people with long-term leases, which was constructed by the city and is designed to pay for itself.

“The south harbour, which is older than the north harbour, is a combination of residential and pleasure boat users, and a commercial harbour. The Westview harbour is a place where the coast guard vessels are lined up. It’s more designed for being a transitory harbour, making space available for people who are going up and down the coast.”

Doubt said when council went through the north harbour rate increases, there was a number of packed open houses. He said one of the things brought up a number of times was that there needs to be more consultation between the people who are using the harbour, and staff and city council.

“I put this forward today in hopes that it will be passed and we can work with staff to get a detailed terms of reference, with a fair proportion of representatives,” said Doubt. “I bump into people on the docks and they are waiting to see this.”

Southcott said he has been involved with the harbours for a long time and has had many conversations like Doubt’s. He said he supported the initiative, but he proposed an amendment, replacing a recommendation that the terms of reference be presented to council at or before the December 7 regular council meeting, with the initiative being contingent on priorities in council’s strategic plan. He said he wanted to see Doubt’s motion go through, but this is one of the priorities that is in a collection of priorities in the strategic plan. There is not yet a way to clearly delineate priorities when it comes to actions, he added.

“I know this is a priority,” said Southcott. “My amendment would possibly delay this particular work, but I really want to see this included in our larger view of what our priorities truly are.”

Doubt spoke against the amendment. He said the reason he made the recommendation was to get it on council’s agenda.

“It’s not going to take a huge amount of staff effort, or council effort,” said Doubt. “People are telling me they want this committee to happen. 

“It would be nice if we had a strategic plan, a set of goals and objectives, and particular actions, but we don’t. I don’t want to amend the recommendation because I want to get the committee going. I don’t want to see it held up with other things.”

Palm said the committee is long overdue.

“This needs to be moving forward so we can hear from the public,” said Palm. “One of the things I’m hearing on the street is that this council is not engaging the public on the basis they would like to be engaged. That communication needs to happen sooner than later. I fully support the original motion.”

Councillor Cindy Elliott said harbours have been a topic of conversation since she was elected, and part of her campaign platform was harbours, because that’s how big an issue it is.

“I’d like to get on with it,” said Elliott.

The amendment failed. Council then carried a motion to establish the harbour users advisory committee.

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