As blossoms bloom across the Fraser Valley, the District of Hope council rolled up their sleeves for some spring cleaning of sorts as their last meeting broached a wide range of long-standing topics.
The evening meeting started with a presentation by Julie McKenna, program manager at Electrify Canada, a company attempting to create an electric fuelling network within the province and across Canada. Their bid was to ask the District of Hope to sign on as their first host municipality in British Columbia, having previously focused on major retailing sites.
“Hope is my best option,” explained McKenna, who said Electrify Canada hopes to create a network of electric vehicle charging stations every 150 to 200 kilometres.
But after McKenna explained how her firm would be footing the entire six-figure bill for installing a charging station at 349 Fort St., if granted permission, Coun. Scott Medlock asked what may have been the most important question: “What’s in it for us?”
“It’ll be the draw of getting people into an area of town, (so it should be) good for business,” answered McKenna, but she did not offer any monetary compensation.
No decision was reached, and council advised McKenna they would discuss it and respond with an answer within a timely manner.
Another detailed discussion occurred when council moved on to the Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw Renewal report, which was prepared by chief administrative officer John Fortolosczky, at the behest of Mayor Peter Robb, who has suggested council renew or replace the tax.
“My intent was to give the Chamber of Commerce another tool in their toolbox to approach some of their members about maybe changing the facade of their building, upgrading the exterior of their building, and working with some of the landlords,” Robb explained during the March 25 council meeting.
The bylaw, which was adopted in 2013 and expired in 2018, encourages industrial and commercial development through the creation of a tax exemption based on a certain cost carried over a certain amount of years. However, as the District has a new governing body, and considering how much has changed in the six years since its creation, council agreed to discuss the renewal in an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting.
Mayor Robb spoke about his recent meetings as a member of the Fraser Valley Regional District Board, and of two interesting changes that may be coming to Hope: a food waste program and more police officers.
Last year, the Food Mesh program began in Chilliwack: started in 2015 and publicly launched in 2017, the program partners charities and retailers to maximize food usage. The program moved into Chilliwack last year and connected at least eight local charities with food industry producers and processors.
Since its conception, Food Mesh has diverted more than 200,000 kg of food from processors to food service providers that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. This equals about 330,000 meals at savings of approximately $1.3 million dollars. And Mayor Robb wants in on that for Hope.
“I’ve asked for the pilot to be extended to Hope and they suggested they could look at in in the fall. Save-on and Buy-Low are on already on side … it’s a win for all involved,” said Robb.