Pitt Meadows City Council - Third Year in Review
Pitt Meadows City Council and staff have persevered through another challenging and unprecedented year. Even through the continued pressures and challenges of a global pandemic, significant strides have been made in areas of strategic importance, as detailed in the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. Below are the highlights of Council’s third year in office:
- The City continued to pivot and adapt to the evolving realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has impacted every aspect of City business, from Council meetings and public hearings to recreational programming and bylaw enforcement. With each new or amended public health order, staff responded quickly and efficiently to adjust protocol and procedures to ensure the wellbeing of Council, staff, and members of the community.
- The City’s Emergency Program Manager supported Katzie First Nation in developing their pandemic response plan.
Enhanced Public Safety
- Police Services
- After nearly three years of hard work and advocacy, the City received approval from RCMP E Division and the Province for an independent RCMP Detachment in Pitt Meadows. The City will work closely with Maple Ridge and the Ridge Meadows RCMP Detachment to begin the transition plan. To find out more, visit pittmeadows.ca/rcmp.
- Following the completion of a spatial analysis of potential sites for a new RCMP Detachment building, Council unanimously selected the site of the current Pitt Meadows Art Gallery(PMAG)/Athletic Building as the preferred location for the future independent RCMP detachment. As a result, an RFP (request for proposal) was issued for the design of this new City facility, which has since been awarded to KMBR. The conceptual and detailed design phase will continue through 2022 with tender of the construction contract in early 2023. As well, during 2022, coordination of the Athletic Building demolition, Art Gallery relocation, new/expanded washroom facilities and site preparation will occur.
- Fire & Rescue Services
- Pitt Meadows Fire & Rescue Services hired four new full-time firefighters, bringing the number of career firefighters to eight. The Fire Department now has four-person coverage from 6 am to 6 pm seven days per week, improving response times and enhancing protective service levels for the community.
- The Fire Department transitioned from VHF radios to the E-COMM system, providing many important improvements to the department, including enhanced firefighter safety and full interoperability with other emergency agencies.
- Construction of the new Fire Hall has begun and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022. This capital project will enhance safety and meet the needs of the growing community for decades to come. This new facility will include essential training areas and a dedicated Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for first responders and EOC staff.
- Drainage and Flood Management
- Work was completed on the new, approximately $9 million fish-friendly Pitt Polder Pump Station. The new station is a critical component of the city’s diking and drainage system and will provide enhanced safety and flood mitigation to over 1650 hectares of agricultural land.
- Installation and commissioning of the back-up generators at the Kennedy and McKechnie pump stations was completed to provide resiliency to the City’s drainage network and lower the risks associated with flooding in the event of a power outage.
- The City applied for funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Municipal Asset Management Program to conduct a Condition Assessment of the City’s culverts, which forms a major component of the City’s drainage network.
- Emergency Program
- This year, the Firesmart Program was launched to educate the community on common fire risks and effective safety measures. The FireSmart staff hosted workshops, knocked on doors, set up booths, and assisted seniors and people with vulnerabilities to reduce their risk of fire by removing debris, cleaning gutters and removing fire enhancing trees and shrubbery.
- Several new volunteers for the Emergency Support Services team were recruited, which provides critical support to community members during emergency events such as floods and fires.
- The City partnered with the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie, Seniors Network to produce an emergency preparedness film tailored specifically to seniors and other vulnerable populations. The film, titled “Emergency Preparedness in British Columbia: Five Steps Everyone Needs to Know” and funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, is uniquely offered with several accessibility options including sign language, closed captioning, and descriptive text.
Pitt Meadows Road and Rail Improvements Project
- Council hosted two Engagement & Priorities Committee meetings regarding the Road & Rail Improvements Project to hear updates from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and obtain feedback from key stakeholders and Pitt Meadows residents.
- Council and staff continued negotiations with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and CP to advance plans for an underpass that will separate road and rail traffic at Harris Road. The underpass will make local commutes faster and safer, improve community connections through more reliable traffic flow, reduce vehicle emissions of idling vehicles, and improve emergency response times.
- Council advanced the interests of the City in all discussions about the Harris Road Underpass, including: noise and vibration mitigation; long-term management of traffic pattern changes; protecting the character and feel of the community; and finding a suitable location for the Hoffmann and Son Machine Shop and the Old General Store Museum buildings.
- The City conducted an independent peer review of VFPA’s noise and vibration study.
- Council was successful in pausing all discussions related to the Kennedy Road Overpass.
CP’s Proposed Logistics Park: Vancouver
- The City unanimously and vehemently opposed the CP Logistics Park proposed development. This industrial park would add a 100-acre rail, transload, and distribution facility adjacent to the Vancouver Intermodal Facility in Pitt Meadows, posing high-hazard health, safety, and environmental risks to our community. The City has been advocating in opposition by:
- alerting the community via pittmeadows.ca and the City’s social media channels to all opportunities to provide feedback;
- providing a written submission to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change requesting the project be designated as a reviewable project under the Impact Assessment Act;
- conducting independent studies such as noise, vibration, and air quality to determine associated health and environmental impacts associated with current and future rail operations;
- advocating for the protection of air quality; and
- continuing to share concerns with CP and senior levels of government.
Golden Ears Business Park Phase 3 and 4
- Following several Advisory Design Panel (ADP) meetings and an Engagement & Priorities Committee (EPC) meeting for each proposed phase to engage the public and gather feedback, Council made their final review and decision to approve ONNI’s Golden Ears Business (GEBP) Phases 3 and 4 development permit applications. Council and staff’s negotiations resulted in high quality buildings and architectural features, lower density than zoned, improved buffering and significant set-backs, a comprehensive review of offsite improvements related to traffic and drainage, and the transfer of 8 acres of amenity lands.
Parks, Recreation & Culture
- Council adopted a 15-year Parks, Recreation & Culture Master Plan (PRC Master Plan) that provides a framework for future decisions related to parks, recreation, arts and culture, facilities, amenities, programs, and related resources. This included a year-long engagement process to gather community feedback on the new PRC Master Plan, including a resident questionnaire, youth survey, community group questionnaire, 13 stakeholder discussion sessions, and an Engagement & Priorities Committee meeting.
- Enhancements were made to the Fraser Way Round About to improve public safety, sightlines and to beautify the area. Low-growing pollinator-friendly perennials, flowering trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses were planted in place of overgrown shrubs. A raised garden bed is now the focal point which will be planted seasonally with annuals. The first display was planted with all orange flowers to recognize National Indigenous Peoples Day. New cement pathways, additional seating, electrical and irrigation were also installed.
- Several parks and trails received upgrades this year, including Harris Road Park, Mitchell Trail, Hoffmann Dog Park, Bonson Park, Cottonwood Park, and Somerset Park (December installation).
- City park and sports field signs were replaced to provide clear, welcoming, and inclusive information. With the support of Katzie First Nation, this project included Halklameyem language translations at Spirit Square [šxʷhék̓ ʷnəs] and Waterfront Commons Park [xcəwás].
- The Art Gallery had a successful year showcasing six exhibitions which had record attendance and sales. A hybrid of in-person and virtual exhibits continued throughout the year as a COVID-19 adjustment to operations. Volunteerism at the art gallery is setting record high numbers which leads to a consistent service level for the community.
- Seventy filming permits were issued, surpassing the number of permits and revenues from previous years. In addition, consistent staff support has improved guidelines, increased efficiencies of internal City processes/networks, and improved relationships with filming applicants.
Community Connection & Celebration
- Council attended various events (in-person and online) throughout the community, connecting with residents and celebrating life, including:
- Severinski Farms 100 year celebration
- 9th Annual Salvation Army Dignity Breakfast
- Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Annual Ceremonial Review and Virtual Parade Night
- Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball 66th Anniversary Celebration
- Vancouver PNE: Meet Your Mayor Event
- Canadian Aviation College BBQ
- 28th Annual Ridge Meadows Rivers Day
- ICBC Pedestrian Reflector Safety Event
- Chamber of Commerce: Fraser Valley Flood Resources and Annual General Meeting
- The City celebrated key accomplishments this year with several celebratory ceremonies in the community, including:
- Katzie park sign unveiling ceremony
- Fire Hall ground breaking ceremony
- Pitt Polder Pump Station Ribbon Cutting
- Amenity Lands Ribbon Cutting
- Emergency Preparedness Video Premiere
- Pitt Meadows Autonomous RCMP Detachment Announcement
- The City celebrated two more cycles of the citizen-led Community Services Awards, recognizing the contributions of important community members and businesses to the quality of life in Pitt Meadows.
The 2020 recipients were:
- Patricia Gordon - Outstanding Resident of the Year
- Dave Saddler - Community Service Award
- Fatima Oday Al-Jumaili - Community Service Youth Award
- Diane Siemens - Good Neighbour Award
- Envision Fitness - Business of the Year Award
The 2021 award recipients will be announced on December 3 as part of the Christmas in Pitt Meadows community event.
- The Communications team created and launched a multi-phase community-pride building campaign called ‘Pitt Meadows Proud™.’ Council, staff, and residents sent in videos, photos, and comments to share all the ways that they are Pitt Meadows Proud™. The submissions received over 10,000 views across social media channels, garnered countless likes and positive comments, and bolstered community pride.
Advocacy and Regional Relationships
- The City signed a collaboration agreement between the City, Metro Vancouver, and Discovery Playhouse regarding Pitt Meadows Civic Centre Project, which is a step towards putting shovels in the ground to build a new joint building with a childcare center and affordable rental housing units. The City is leasing land to Metro Vancouver at a nominal rate, allowing Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation to build and manage rental housing. The new childcare center (115 spaces) is being funded by a grant totaling 1.2 million dollars from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
- The City prioritized and recognized their relationship with Katzie First Nation and their commitment to indigenous relations through several initiatives this year:
- Staff and Council attended workshops on Indigenous Relations and Truth and Reconciliation.
- The Public Art Hydro Box project was completed and was a successful collaboration with Katzie artists.
- The City acknowledged National Indigenous Peoples Day in June and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in September, including the River Bends & Totem Ends exhibit at PMAG, showcasing the work of Karen Goodfellow (of Katzie descent).
- Canada Day celebrations were adjusted to include artistic and cultural experiences that focused on recognizing cultural diversity, reflecting on Canada’s history, and taking time to pause and contemplate.
- The City lowered their flags in memory of the 215 Indigenous children found at the former residential school in Kamloops. Council publically acknowledged this unspeakable tragedy and expressed condolences to all First Nation communities.
- Council continued to advance their relationships with senior government leaders, the regional district, and other important stakeholders through a variety of engagement opportunities, including:
- Transport 2050 Phase 3 Elected Official Engagement
- Regional call with Minister Josie Osborne re: COVID-19 updates and continued support to local governments
- 8th Annual Resource Breakfast Series
- Two Metro Vancouver Council of Council meetings
- The Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) (virtual) convention
- Municipal Finance Authority of BC - AGM and Financial Forum
- COSCO Conference: Living in the 21st Century: A Seniors Strategy
- Cycling in Metro Vancouver Suburbs: Barriers and Opportunities
- Council attended the 2021 (virtual) Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention and met with the following provincial ministers to advocate for the needs of Pitt Meadows:
- The Hon. Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, to discuss the need for advocacy for the prevention of the removal of approximately 100 acres of viable farmland from within the Agricultural Land Reserve as part of the proposed CP Logistics Park;
- The Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, to discuss next steps related to an autonomous RCMP Police detachment for Pitt Meadows;
- The Hon. Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, to support a call to action concerning the 215 Indigenous children found buried on the residential school site in Kamloops, including a review of all residential school sites in BC as a step towards reconciliation; and to advocate for secondary access to Katzie First Nation IR1;
- The Hon. Selena Robinson, Minister of Finance, regarding the fair taxation of railway and industrial operations, as endorsed by the LMLGA at their 2021 AGM with over 90% of their membership voting in favour of the submitted resolutions;
- The Hon. Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, regarding traffic issues impacting the City of Pitt Meadows, including improvements along the Lougheed Corridor, Golden Ears Way, and advocacy for secondary access to Katzie First Nation IR1.
- The City successfully launched the Community Support Select Committee to engage outreach agencies that support Pitt Meadows residents and to learn about resources and social programming available to our community.
- The Economic Development Advisory Committee held its inaugural meeting this fall. Council established the EDAC to advise the City on economic development initiatives, tourism promotion and development, and policies and proposals that are relevant to the community’s balanced economic prosperity.
Grants & Awards
- The City received multiple grants throughout the year to fund key projects, including the following:
New licensed childcare spaces
Province of BC
Dewdney Trunk Road maintenance
Pedestrian and biking intersection improvements
Firesmart Program and Wildfire Resiliency Plan
Group lodging trailer for the Emergency Program
Active Transportation Network Review
Workstations for the new Emergency Operations Centre
South Alouette Bridge improvements
Traffic operational and safety review
Hydro box wraps beautification project
- The City received the prestigious GFOA award for Financial Reporting for the 7th consecutive year for producing an easily readable and efficiently organized annual financial report.
- Financial Services developed enhanced internal budget reporting tools as part of the second phase of the new budget system to more efficiently monitor and manage budget activity.
- The City’s Records Management and Privacy Programs were further enhanced and strengthened through the development and implementation of important bylaws and policies, including: Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Bylaw No. 2877, 2021; Records Management Bylaw No. 2878, 2021; Information Access & Privacy Protection Policy A043; and Records Management Policy A014. Training was provided to all staff, including a series of educational emails on information access and privacy protection.
- A new online platform called eSCRIBE was implemented for the end-to-end management of all Council meetings, including agendas, minutes, staff reports, live streaming of meetings, and website content. The new system went live in Q4 2021; initial reviews are very positive.
- Memorandums of agreement were successfully ratified with both CUPE and IAFF unions and their membership (i.e. our employees), providing for fair wages and benefits for employees, recruitment and retention enhancements, and operational improvements for the City.
- A number of initiatives were delivered to enhance the employee experience, including a review of the wellness program and development of recommendations; extended health plan enhancements for all employee groups, including Council; and training and development of staff in the areas of occupational health and safety, mental health, resiliency, time management, and conflict resolution.
- Recruitment during the first ten months of 2021 saw 65 people hired into various roles across the City, including Operations, Fire, Finance, Parks, and Recreation. Vacancies are a largely a result of restructuring, backfilling leaves of absence, seasonal workers and part-time casual and auxiliary staff.
- The IT Department established a Cyber Security Management Plan, which baselines the City’s current cyber security readiness and outlines a clear set of actions for enhancing our defenses. The plan gives staff a clear understanding of where and how the City can improve its defences against today’s most pervasive cyber attacks.
- The relocation of fibre optic segments leading into and out of the new fire hall site was completed. This has enabled IT to establish an optimal routing path that is less prone to damage while strengthening fibre redundancies between data centers. IT has also finalized a listing of all technology requirements for the new fire hall and have begun the procurement of the necessary equipment.
To see previous Council years in review, click here.