The Town of Creston will rent two Eagle III-P voting machines from the City of Surrey in the 2014 municipal election, after hearing recommendations from research and legislative analyst Bhar Sihota at last night’s regular meeting.
Most municipalities choose to rent machines from larger cities rather than buying the machines, said Sihota, due to the cost of upgrading as technology changes.
The voting machines will cost $700 each — $500 for programming plus a $200 rental fee — and although they won’t reduce lineups, they will help to return election results sooner than manual counting.
They also ensure accuracy when voters cast their ballots.
“It greatly reduces the number of spoiled ballots,” said Sihota, by rejecting the ballot immediately.
It takes about two hours to train staff on the machines, which come with a training manual developed by the City of Surrey.
Sihota initially recommended that Creston rent one, but Coun. Judy Gadicke, concerned there would be no backup, made a motion to rent a second machine, which council supported.
•Council directed staff to prepare a report regarding the implementation of a revitalization tax exemption for new construction or façade improvements to commercial properties.
•Organizers of the Creston Valley Bird Fest requested funding assistance from the town, which has depleted its 2013 discretionary fund. Council authorized the mayor to respond, reminding the festival organizers to apply for Columbia Basin Trust grants. The request will be considered as part of the town’s 2014 budgeting process.
•Information regarding the 2014 call for nominations for the Order of British Columbia will be posted on the town’s website.
•Town manager Lou Varela gave council a report detailing guidelines for the usage of the town’s coat of arms, created in 2008, and the Creston brand, created by Story and Co. last year.
Rather than an immediate changeover, both will be used for the time being in a transition period.
“I could see down the road moving to a complete shift to the town brand,” said Varela.
Council agendas and minutes, formal documents and public notices will continue to use the coat of arms, while social media, corporate vehicles and stationery will begin using the brand.
•Council approved a request from Varela that staff members receive limited authority to deal with encroachment agreements and development permits. Neither requires a public meeting, and council can’t deny development permits if conditions are met. “Hot button” issues would be brought before council.
•Council approved a new human rights and anti-harassment policy. The policy will respect the dignity of all involved, and protect confidentiality and anonymity.
“We do feel confident it meets the requirements of WorkSafe,” said Varela.
•The first and second readings of a zoning amendment bylaw were passed, giving the Creston and District Community Complex its own “spot zone” (P-1RC). The bylaw creations has been on the town’s action list since the project was approved in 2006, but could only be completed once the complex was completed and operational, to allow for the bylaw to include all uses.
The new zone, designated for the rec centre only, would covers assembly use, business and professional offices, community recreation services, daycare facility, health and medical services, and indoor and outdoor recreation services.
For the third reading and potential approval, a public hearing will be held at a future regular town council meeting.
•Mayor Ron Toyota was authorized to send a letter of support on behalf of the Friends of Know and Grow Community Farm to assist the organization in applying for a Community Gaming Grant.