New faces on Port Coquitlam committees
There will be some new faces chairing Port Coquitlam city committees this year after council confirmed appointments at its meeting Monday.
Each member of council will continue to sit on the finance and intergovernmental committee, which is is chaired by Mayor Greg Moore but community safety committee will be chaired by Coun. Darrell Penner, with Coun. Dean Washington sitting as vice-chair and Coun. Michael Wright serving as a member.
Coun. Mike Forrest will chair the healthy community committee, with Wright as vice-chair and Washington as a member.
The smart growth committee will be chaired by Coun. Brad West, with Forrest as vice chair and Coun. Glenn Pollock as a member, while transportation, solutions and operations will be chaired by Pollock, with Penner serving as vice-chair and West being named a member.
Last month, the city announced it would be streamlining its committee structure, eliminating the environmental enhancement and social inclusion committees.
Mayor Moore said at the time that environmental issues should be dealt with at each committee while social issues would fall under the purview of the smart growth committee.
Forrest said during Monday night's meeting that the new structure, which now has three people sitting on a committee instead of two, will eliminate deadlocked decisions and allow for more work to be done.
Port Coquitlam homeowners will see an increase in their water and sewer rates this year.
During Monday night's meeting, council voted unanimously in favour of adopting a water rate bylaw that would see the amount a single-family homeowner pays for water jump $24 to $417; owners of townhouses will see a $22 jump to $391 while apartment owners will see a $20 jump to $371.
Sewer rates are also on the rise. A single-family homeowner will pay $10 more in 2013 for a total of $306 while townhouse owners will see a $9 jump to $287 and apartments will see a $9 jump to $271.
According to a report brought to council last month, utility rate increases are not likely to slow down anytime soon.
Most of the additional funding is required to pay for an ambitious capital program set out by Metro Vancouver, which estimates it will need $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. Metro's planned projects include the Seymour/Capilano filtration plant, Coquitlam's UV disinfection facility and the Port Mann main No. 2 Fraser River cross construction, among other initiatives.
"These significant water infrastructure projects have a dramatic effect in 2015 and future years," said a Port Coquitlam city staff report. "In order to mitigate this financial burden, a stabilizing reserve has been continued in 2013. The effect of the reserve is to manage fluctuations in rates to our residents."
The report added that Metro's utility service costs will increase in the next five years by a total of 42.1%.
Port Coquitlam councillors voted in favour of a resolution that would see Metro Vancouver provide collective bargaining and job evaluation services to the municipality for an annual fee.
For close to $20,000 per year, PoCo staff will be able to access information and expertise from the region when conducting labour negotiations and arbitration.
But the final say over any labour contract decision would still rest with the city, which would maintain its autonomy despite the links with Metro Vancouver, according to PoCo's chief administration officer, John Leeburn.
"They do and can provide valuable assistance at the negotiating table," he said during Monday night's meeting. "It is not my intention that they would be our spokespeople."
Currently, the city relies on lawyers and outside experts when seeking advice for collective bargaining interpretations and grievance administration. Under the agreement with Metro, the city would have access to the region's labour relations staff members for advice, which Leeburn said could save the municipality money.
Prior to 2011, the regional district had a high degree of control over labour negotiations, uniting municipalities in the face of organized labour groups like CUPE and IAFF, according to a staff report. But over the last decade, municipalities have sought greater independence from the region in making decisions concerning labour relations.
Changes have since been made to allow some of the larger communities, which can afford to maintain large human resources departments, the ability to negotiate independently from the region.
But smaller communities may still be able to benefit by pooling their resources, according to Mayor Greg Moore.
"This really benefits the smaller municipalities," he said. "Larger municipalities can spend $5 million on a [human resources] department. We can't afford that."
Not all councillors supported the idea of contracting labour relations and job evaluation services from Metro Vancouver.
Coun. Brad West said he feared the deal would be too costly and that PoCo may not have the autonomy it needs when negotiating labour deals if it signs on to the agreement with the region.
"I don't see why we would go and have an expenditure of this amount," he said. "I don't see why we would have an outside body do this at an additional cost."
All of the councillors voted in favour of signing on to a base service that would see the region facilitate discussions and collect data on labour trends. But West and Coun. Dean Washington opposed the portion of the resolution that would see the city pay for collective bargaining and job evaluation services.
The item carried 4-2, with Coun. Glen Pollock absent.