The start of the New Year was actually pretty quiet as far as Town Council business was concerned. However, by mid-January it got intensely busy with what appeared to be an endless stream of meetings in and out of town. Let me break some of it down for you.
Town Council Meetings
Due to the Christmas Break, Town Council held just one public meeting in January. It was not nearly as full an agenda as I had expected but we did take care of a number of things. Probably the two most talked about items will be the announcement of the members selected to sit on the KVR Mixed Trail Use Select Committee and the Repeal Bylaw.
KVR Mixed Trail Use Select Committee
I sat on a similar Town-appointed committee prior to the October 2018 Municipal Election. That committee was charged with the task of establishing an alternate route connecting the two ends of the KVR trail without cutting through the Town of Princeton on the existing rail bed. The matter became an election issue and a new committee has been struck.
This one has a different mandate. The recommendations to be made to Council are to be on such topics as the proposed route to join the KVR trail between the two ends of Princeton with a focus on safety, noise/dust control, maintenance, ground cover and policing. The new committee also has to create a survey for residents who live along the corridor and must work with the RCMP to identify issues.
The Town of Princeton Repeal Bylaw
This document was given first, second and third reading during the January 21st meeting of Town Council. It is essentially a housekeeping action to permit the removal, repeal and deletion of a number of outdated bylaws. I looked through a few of them and will share a couple here so you’ll understand why they are getting axed.
Bylaw No. 102, 1961 is a bylaw to “prohibit the sale of raw milk in the Village of Princeton.” It was better known in the day as the Milk Protection Bylaw which defined raw milk as milk that had not been pasteurized “to the satisfaction of the Medical Health Officer.” Another one I found interesting was Bylaw No. 135, 1964 which posed the question, “Shall the water supply of the Corporation of the Village of Princeton be fluoridated?” to electors as part of the Municipal Election set for December 12, 1964.
Meetings and Seminars
The monthly meeting schedule for me included the Princeton Health Care Steering Committee and Princeton Exhibition Association (both on January 15) and Princeton Museum Society on January 17 followed by a ‘Meet ‘n’ Greet’ session later that night with representatives of a major industrial corporation.
Seminars included two days of Strategic Planning (January 16 and January 22) where all members of Town Council and Management spent several hours working on priorities for 2019. The sessions were valuable to me as it got all of us in the same room working together to build a better Princeton one step at a time. The rest of that week was spent in Kelowna at an Elected Officials Seminar with all members of Town Council and the Interim CAO.
Elected Officials Seminar
Organized by the Local Government Leadership Academy (LGLA) and hosted at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort, this was a long and involved series of presentations. Although a lot of it would be considered dry and uninteresting to the average person, these mini-workshops – each running no more than 90-minutes and strung together – were very important to any elected official.
Here’s a list of some of the presentations I sat through from January 23 to 25:
Lessons For A Happy Political Journey
The Local Government Weather Outlook
Dynamics and Decision Making
We’ve Got To Stop Meeting Like This
Local Government Law 101
Overview of Municipalities and Regional Districts
Public Hearings 101
Local Governments & Indigenous Communities Working Together
Local Government Finance 101
Local Government Planning 101
Making The Media Work For You
I took copious amounts of notes (which reminded me of my old reporter days) and many of these presentations can be found online at the LGLA website.
And The Month Ends With Numbers
January wraps up for us with two full days working on the annual Town of Princeton budget. I have my Wish List ready but I’m sure I’ll have to revise it somewhat in the next day or two. What we can’t come to consensus on by the end of the month will have to be hammered out in early February.
What I Gained From The Extra Activity This Month
I personally felt a much better working relationship forming within the walls of Town Hall following the Strategic Planning Sessions. We all get along well, already. I just think that the two day exercise helped in solidifying that cooperative and forward-thinking direction.
As for the Elected Officials Seminar, I made contact with several Councillors and Directors in other communities including Revelstoke, Montrose, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Kamloops, Keremeos and Hedley. These contacts may be helpful when I need some assistance in dealing with an issue. One thing I did discover was that all communities in BC represented at this event are faced with the same two main issues: housing and infrastructure. That, alone, made the two and-a-half days worthwhile to me.
You know what they say…busy people get things done. Well, since my election to Princeton Town Council I can honestly say that there are busy weeks and there are even busier weeks. December 2018 was no exception. I found myself attending public functions on behalf of Town Council as well as with other members of Town Council and a few committee meetings as well.
Town Council Meetings
There were two regular meetings of Town Council during the month. The first one, on the 3rd, was when we approved adding the iCompass video management system to the Town of Princeton website. Essentially, once the system is up and running, with a camera and associated interfacing, public Town Council meetings will be available for public viewing at home. This was actually an item that more or less became one of several issues discussed during the election campaign a couple of months ago. The December 17 Town Council meeting was much shorter due to the fact that there was a light agenda. All business was taken care of in about 20-minutes.
December 4 was a full day for many of us on Town Council. It started with the Transit Open House at the Library Meeting Room. The discussion was centred on connecting Princeton residents with a proposed inter-city bus that will run from Penticton to Kelowna. Those in attendance were far more interested in a route that connects Princeton with Hope and the Lower Mainland. That was probably not expected by those organizing the event and has given Town Council something to think about.
Later on the same day was the big announcement that Telus will be bringing their PureFibre service to Princeton. It is a major undertaking where Telus is bringing the infrastructure and will provide a major upgrading of internet services to the community. This was a project that had been in the works with the previous Town Council and I was pleased to see a couple of them at this event to take the much-deserved credit for getting the ball rolling on this project. Telus estimates that the PureFibre system will be ‘live’ during 2019.
On December 7 I joined other members of Town Council for the annual Staff Christmas Luncheon. It brought together Town Council, management, staff and employees for a casual lunch prior to the Christmas holiday. I sat with some of the town crew and arena staff and we all had a great time. I can honestly say that the ‘team dynamic’ extends through all departments that join together at Town Hall.
As I am still getting to the full cycle of meetings of the committees I have been appointed to represent the Town of Princeton on, I did attend two new ones in December. On the 5th I drove to Keremeos to sit as an alternate at the Similkameen Valley Planning Society (SVPS) meeting. This was a ‘homecoming’ of sorts for me as I have been involved with the SVPS in the past. There were some familiar faces and a couple of interesting presentations related to tourism and marketing. On December 19 I attended my first Princeton Arts Council meeting. Again, this was familiar ground for me and some familiar faces sat around the table. There was a lot of interest there for the Arts & Culture Committee that is being formed by Town Council.
The only other committee meeting in my schedule for December was the monthly Princeton Health Care Steering Committee (PHCSC). It was a good meeting and the first one I was to write the news release for. I expected a lot of revisions the following day but that was not the case. Everything went smoothly with minor changes.
The next month is already filling up with scheduled events. In addition to regular Town Council meetings there will be a few committee meetings and an important trip to Kelowna in the latter part of the month. This will be for a two-and-a-half-day series of sessions and workshops aimed at ‘newly elected’ and ‘returning elected’ officials. I’ve heard a member of Council in another community refer to this event as a ‘boot camp’ and I’ve started doing the same. I expect that once we complete the month of January, things are going to start to move a whole lot quicker.
It’s a question I get asked a lot these days. Or maybe a variation of that question. Well, to be honest with you, I’m still figuring it out. There’s a lot going on and the new Town Council sort of boarded the train midway through a long trip. It’s going to take a little while to discover what all this train can do and where all the stops are. But so far, I’m enjoying the ride.
Swearing In Made It Real
We were all sworn into office on Monday, November 5. It went quickly and before I knew it, I was officially a Councillor. Well, I knew it was going to happen but the actual ceremony lasted in the neighbourhood of 15-minutes. The shortest Town Council meeting I ever attended as a local reporter was about 8-minutes long if I recall correctly. I’m glad we didn’t break that record.
First Official Meeting
I was very much looking forward to the first actual meeting. Each of us received the agenda in advance so we could go over it. By the time the meeting rolled around on Monday, November 19 the agenda package was 121-pages. There was a lot of business to wade through but the actual meeting was completed in about 45-minutes. Motions were made and we got through it.
For me, I was particularly excited about the Committee Appointments that were announced at that meeting. These are the committees we each sit on and represent the Town of Princeton. There are a number of them and for some reason I will be sitting on a total of 11 at this point – the most of any of the Councillors. I also like the mix as many I have some interest in.
This is the list of Committees I will be sitting on:
KVR Mixed Trail Use Select Committee
Princeton Exhibition Association
Similkameen Valley Planning Society (alternate)
Okanagan Regional Library (alternate)
Princeton Health Care Steering Committee (alternate)
Princeton Arts Council (alternate)
Princeton Posse KIJHL Hockey Team (alternate)
The way in which these committee appointments work is that the majority of them include two members of Town Council, a designate and an alternate. There are a couple that I sit on that include more than two and one includes all members of Town Council. I quite like the interesting cross section of topics covered in the committees I have to represent the Town on.
Meetings, Activities And Fun
Well, as there are a number of committees, it also means there are a number of meetings. My list includes several groups that meet just monthly. There is a few that meet only quarterly so at this point I have only been to a couple of meetings. However, there has been a lot of additional activity in my life now that I am an elected representative of the community.
I attended a flag raising ceremony to mark Louis Riel Day and was presented with a Métis sash lapel pin. It meant so much to me that I wore it to my first Town Council meeting. I have been in and out of Town Hall frequently in the past week taking care of various tasks. I also receive an endless stream of email to my personal Town Council email address. Many of them are items that require attendance from any and all members of Town Council. My calendar is filling up.
Probably the most fun part of this new position of mine was during the annual Christmas Light-Up and Santa Visit on November 24. All members of Council were approached to participate with a list of possible duties provided. As I was going to be downtown that day anyway vending JamBusters! (www.jambusters.ca) with my wife Brenda in the Princeton Legion Hall, I was sure I could help with a small task as part of the light-up celebration in the park next to the Legion.
It was suggested that I be the MC for the event (I wanted to help at the craft table) thanks to my years of experience in Broadcasting and various other forms of Media. I saw the logic behind that so I accepted the slighter bigger job. Well, it was far more fun than I expected and all members of Town Council present put in a ton of effort in what was probably our first real public event where we were out and about with area residents. It was truly a blast. I can’t wait for next month!
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.