Nearly every seat in the house was full on Monday as community members came to communicate, delegate, and partake in the District of Hope’s most recent council meeting (May 27).
From one to two
The evening began with a public hearing for the proposed rezoning of a house at 648 Willow Street from a single-family residence to a two-family one, allowing the property owners to install a legal secondary suite.
“I’m very worried about (this) ruining one of the most pristine avenues in Hope,” said local Walter Scherle while addressing Council. “That’s how most on Willow Street feel—it’s a very pristine avenue and we’d like to keep it that way.”
“We have less than two per cent rental stock, and that’s driving costs of living way up,” said Stephanie Hooker, a local who voiced her support for the rezoning. “The homeowner came in good faith to create a legal suite … and I think Council should consider the community’s needs as this aligns with (Hope’s Integrated Official Community Plan (IOCP)).”
“Renters come and go and they’re not always perfect,” said Terri Watson, who owns the Willow Street property with her husband. “But this piece of rental property fits with Hope’s IOC plan of rezoning lands to increase diversity.”
Concluding the public hearing, the matter was left to Council, who discussed and voted on the matter during their regular meeting a short time later.
“I think (the problems are) about the renter currently in there,” Coun. Bob Erickson said, “not about the principle. If a good renter was in there, we’d probably not ever hear a comment about it.”
After a discussion, the motion was put forward to Council, who voted six to one in favour of passing the bylaw amendment.
“I feel very comfortable in supporting this motion,” Coun. Heather Stewin said. “It’s the direction we need to be going in to support workplace housing (and increase our rental stock).”
After the public hearing ended, Mayor Robb began the evening’s Council meeting, which was kicked off by two delegations: one by Debra Arnott of Community Futures Sun Country, and by Lindsay Carswell for the 2019 Ride to Conquer Cancer.
“Our mandate is job creation through self-employment,” explained Arnott, who’s the regional general manager for the not-for-profit organization. “Since 1995, we’ve lent out 54 loans in Hope for just under $2 million. The average loan is about $39,500.
“But we do a lot of character loans, we’re very different than banks or credit unions,” she continued. Perhaps that’s why “we’re the only not-for-profit to achieve … a line item on the federal budget.
“I’m really proud of the whole board and look at the (area) as a region so we’re pulling Hope in … and continuing to drive traffic through the valley.”
Community Futures Sun Country is also hiring a business ambassador for Hope for three months in the new year. “From January to March 2020, and it’s free for businesses,” Arnott said.
For more information about Community Futures Sun Country, please visit their website at CFSun.ca.
Following Arnott, Lindsay Carswell stood at the podium and announced that the 2019 Ride to Conquer Cancer will finally be making its way to Hope.
The ride was supposed to switch from Seattle to Hope in 2017, but the season’s wildfires made it too dangerous for the bikers, and “a contingency plan” was put in place instead. And again in 2018.
But the Foundation is thinking positively this year and is making plans for its riders to end their journeys in Hope.
“Hope represents a challenge,” Carswell explained to Council. “And that’s what the ride is about: conquering cancer, (which can be the biggest challenge a person will ever face). And there’s something symbolic to having all wheels pointing in the same direction: to Hope.”
But it’s not just this year the Foundation plans on ending the ride in Hope, Carswell says they foresee it happening here for “at least the next 10 years.”
The biggest fundraiser in B.C., the Ride to Conquer Cancer Foundation raised $10.6 million dollars in 2018, of which, $58,000 came directly from Hope.
“This is definitely a community of giving,” he said, adding that at least 15 volunteers for the event’s conclusion are needed to help with serving food, dealing with garbage, and helping with crowds.
The Ride occurs on Aug. 24, and 25, however, the week before, the Foundation plans to unveil a chainsaw carving commissioned for the event that will be permanently located somewhere in Hope.
“We look forward to working with you on finding (it a home),” Carswell said.
At the end of Carswell’s presentation, the District’s chief administrative officer (CAO), John Fortoloczky, and Coun. Bob Erickson revealed jerseys from last year’s District team that had been framed for commemorative reasons.
For more information about the Ride to Conquer Cancer, please visit their website at Ride.ConquerCancer.ca/Vancouver19.
Before the regular meeting was concluded, it was adjourned into a Committee of the Whole meeting, where CAO Fortoloczky presented a report to council suggesting changes to improve the functioning of AvantageHOPE, an entity created by the District in 2010 to manage its economic development and tourism marketing strategies.
“They’ve done excellent in tourism, but when it comes to economic development, (that’s) been quite a failure for AdvantageHOPE,” Coun. Bob Erickson said. “Tourism is economic development, but not the kind we need … and we’ve given them almost $1.5 million since 2010 (without enough in return). So I see things differently.”
“I think the numbers speak for themselves. If I gave you a dollar and you gave me $2.28 back, I’ll do that all day long,” said Coun. Dusty Smith in reference to AdvantageHOPE’s ability to leverage the money they’re given. In 2014, it was $1.47 for every dollar the District gave, by 2016 it was up to $2.28, and in 2017/18, they used their leveraging ability to nearly double the worth of a half-million dollar Rural Dividend Grant.
“Overall, in the last 10 years, they haven’t even had an increase in funding,” Fortoloczky explained as he outlined his report’s recommendations for council. “I feel this model is the best model for our community at this time.”
To that extent, Fortoloczky’s report recommended things like having Council meet with the AdvantageHOPE board more often; sharing more detailed information between the organization and District; work to ensure quorum is met more consistently; and draft a new communication plan to help, which will not only unify perception, but will align the District with AdvantageHOPE, its official destination marketing organization.
And, added Coun. Dusty Smith, the District’s Municpal and Regional District Tax program (MRDT) application is progressing nicely, and money may begin flowing into Hope as early as October. “So with MRDT coming, it would be absolutely crazy to redesign things now.”
To which council agreed: after discussion of AdvantageHOPE and its role in growing the community, the motion to accept the recommendations was carried.