Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fort Langley Community Hall
9167 Glover Road
Fort Langley, BC


Meeting called to order at 6:02pm.

That the agenda for the meeting be received and adopted.
Brenda Alberts
Dixie Jacobson
Without Dissent
  1. Fort Langley Utilities Conversion.
        Roeland Zwaag, Director, Public Works, Township of Langley.
        Gord Swystun, Project Supervisor, Engineering Division, Township of Langley.
    1. Gord Swystun outlined that Council approved the bylaw for the utilities conversion in late 2012; since then Township staff had released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the design services; they had awarded the design contract a week or so earlier; and, that design and conceptual work had begun.
    2. He further outlined that they are waiting for consultants and BC Hydro to determine the corridor location; it is expected to be three (3) weeks or so before drawings are ready to submit to BC Hydro; and, from there they will then further determine what will need to be done, and where the corridor might go.
    3. He acknowledged that there will be disruptive impacts, but that they are trying to ensure the corridor alignment, construction methods, and construction schedules, minimize the impact as much as possible.
    4. He outlined that they are considering the best way to communicate the status of the project to the community, and that using a section on with the assistance of the BIA was a possibility.
    5. Roeland Zwaag confirmed that the BC Hydro grant had been approved, with the exact amount to be determined soon.
  2. Questions
    1. Has the Township of Langley determined the construction timeline?

      Bulk of construction will be during the winter months, ideally. Potentially, could have final approvals and permits in September, start construction in October, bulk of disruptive work completed by April, minor work to complete the project in the summer of 2014. The final schedule is still to be determined, however.

    2. Will direct building access be blocked, will construction be sporadic, in phases?

      The idea would be to complete linear sections, whatever length can be done in one day at a time.

    3. Can work be done at night?

      Always a possibility, but depends on the nature of the work. Cost is at a premium for night work, but might be an option, and will check into that.

    4. Are you entertaining suggestions and input before you start digging?

      Yes, people have already been submitting feedback, and once they sit down with BC Hydro they will try to incorporate it.

    5. If BC Hydro says the corridor must be under the sidewalk rather than the street, is there any way to then cancel the conversion project?

      Township staff will push hard for the corridor to be within the street to lessen the impacts, but BC Hydro was quite adamant that the undergrounding occur in the boulevard. The design consultant and BC Hydro are starting to look at the possibility, and the consultant is optimistic that this might be possible. It is something the Township will follow up on.

    6. Christmas season represents significant revenue, is it possible to have a "safe" period where there is no construction?

      Hopefully, but cannot promise anything. Can tender the construction with blackout dates, but will have to aggregate feedback and discuss further.

    7. The staff report indicated $225,000 in possible extra spending. Could you clarify what the $225,000 is?

      An optional spending item to improve the sidewalk after the completion of the project, since BC Hydro up to now has been saying they wanted to use the boulevard. It is an entirely optional item.

    8. Will construction close streets down completely?

      There are no foreseen full road closures, but possibly some single lane, alternating closures.

    9. Can you outline specifically what quantity and quality of lighting replacement is included? Can we spend more money to augment what is considered restoration?

      Lights on BC Hydro poles will be replaced, and the consultant will come up with a lighting plan that will specify restoration up to the new standard for high-conflict pedestrian movement, which will be far beyond the lighting that is currently in place.

    10. Is there any way Shaw could prevent the conversion due to WiFi service on the existing BC Hydro poles?

      Discussions with Shaw are ongoing.

  1. President's Report
    1. Eric Woodward said that it was a busy year for the village and the BIA, and everyone can refer to the Annual Report online, and to same time he suggested he not go over every detail outlined there, or each and every item completed this year.
    2. At a higher level, he acknowledged a learning curve when he joined the Board of Directors. When joining, he outlined that his goals were threefold: 1) focus on demonstrable work items; 2) cancellation of spending for the sake of spending; and 3) increase the transparency into the operations of the BIA. He confirmed that the Board made significant progress on all of these this year.
    3. He outlined that the BIA completed a successful official petition for a Local Area Service Agreement (LAS) to convert the overhead wiring to underground services, and that the applicable bylaw was confirmed by Council. This was a key initiative of the BIA this year, unanimously supported by the Board, to coincide with the extensive commercial and residential (re)development now beginning within the Business Improvement Area, and to justify future (significant) investment towards an improved streetscape.
    4. BIA is becoming a leaner operation, with more overhead reductions to come this year, hopefully.
    5. The BIA created a new, custom website that Eric Woodward personally developed and maintains, and cancelled spending on the older version. With this new foundation now in place, Eric suggested that the BIA can focus on a custom website as the lowest-cost, highest-return mechanism for marketing and promotion given the BIA's very constrained financial resources.
    6. He outlined that the website would also further evolve into the main tool to increase transparency of the BIA, and that for members that are interested in doing so, it will be much easier to be informed. This year, all minutes and agendas are online so members can review them, and that main work items, such as business and marketing planning and financials, will be available for review and suggestions.
  2. Treasurer's Report
    1. Jim Dyck said that, as per financial statements, the BIA started year with a cash balance of $18,706, and ended the year with $40,525.
    2. With May Day, BC Day, Canada Day, visitor maps, radio and newspaper ads, and new website, we invested $7,400 in marketing this year.
    3. The ToL Annual Levy will increase this year to $51,500, the first time in many years that it has increased.
    4. One of Board's commitments this year was to end the year with money for the next year, to continue any operations without cash flow concerns.
    5. He also agreed that there is now, also, resources to devote to advertise during the utilities conversion construction.
    Be it resolved that the Fort Langley BIA hereby endorses the 2013 Operating Budget as prepared.
    Kurt Alberts
    Cathy Doyle
    Without Dissent
  3. Cranberry Festival Report
    1. Jim Dyck outlined that the Cranberry Festival in 2012 was, by far, the most successful Cranberry Festival organized by the BIA, in terms of perfect weather, record attendance, good layout, lots of traffic. Approximately 65,000 people attended this year.
    2. He expressed a big thank you to Shirley Stewart and the volunteers who all worked tirelessly to put it together.
    3. However, the BIA lost money this year, and compared to prior years, costs have risen by significant amounts while cranberry sales and food sales commissions have remained relatively flat.
    4. Eric Woodward outlined that this year the BIA also achieved an update to the definition of a Major Festival within the Townhip of Langley's grant program to include an attendance metric so that the Cranberry Festival could qualify, since it was quite illogical that it did not given its attendance. Eric also outlined how the BIA received $5,000 from Council Contingency this year as a transitionary step, since it was too late to change the definition for 2012, for which the Board was extremely appreciative.
    5. Eric Woodward commented that he wanted to dispel any notion that the Cranberry Festival is profitable, and that it is actually heavily subsidized by the BIA, even with the Major Festivals grant.
    6. He reiterated that the Cranberry Festival was a great success this year, and that he personally wants it continue, but that he is concerned that it is consuming a significant portion of what he now refers to as the "non-festival operating budget". He added that if the Cranberry Festival loses key sponsorships the budget deficit will be in excess of $20,000.
  1. DRAFT Business Plan for 2013-2014. Eric Woodward.
    1. Eric Woodward outlined that he was preparing a draft business plan based on input from the Board for 2013-2014, for consideration by the Board in February or March, and that it would then go the general membership for feedback and suggestions.
    2. He also outlined that in his opinion the BIA should focus on a smaller set of specific, prioritized work items and achieve them, similar to how the Advisory Committees at the Township of Langley operate.
  2. DRAFT Marketing Plan for Utilities Conversion. Eric Woodward.
    1. Eric Woodward outlined that the Board had been informally discussing reserving the current cash balance for an advertising campaign during the utilities conversion project. He outlined that based on input from the Board he was preparing a high-level plan of how to consider promoting the village during this period, for the Board's consideration.
    2. He outlined that it would then go the general membership for feedback and suggestions.
    3. However, he added that since the start of construction may not start until November or later, as outlined earlier by Gord Swystun, that there was likely more time to consider this further, and to work on other items in the short term.

Eric Woodward confirmed that only eight (8) people submitted nomination forms for eight (8) seats on the Board of Directors, and therefore no election was necessary. By acclimation the following eight (8) people were thereby appointed to the Board of Directors for 2013:

Andrew Abreo
Gareth Abreo
Jim Dyck
Dixie Jacobson
Casey Smith
Kevin Speilman
Misty Vanpopta
Eric Woodward
  1. Nomination Form for 2013 AGM
  2. Notice of Meeting
  3. Year-End 2012 Financials NTR

Eric Woodward opened a general question and answer period for anyone present to ask questions.

  1. If the office is closed, how will people call the Fort Langley BIA and leave a message?

    Eric Woodward confirmed that calling "the BIA" would no longer be an option, but people could email the BIA if they did not know who to contact, specifically. The Board would consider options, and see how this could potentially be improved.

  2. To confirm, the Board is not making any decisions to change the scope of the Cranberry Festival, just putting out some information about its implications for us to consider?

    Eric Woodward confirmed that that is correct, that he and the Board just wanted to communicate actual budget numbers, and the financial reality of the festival, to clear up any misperceptions that may exist.

  3. There is mixed response about the effect of the Cranberry Festival among some members, do we have any metrics?

    Eric Woodward suggested that it would be nice to start measuring anything at all, and that the short answer was, therefore, that there is not. He added that he thought that other small towns would love to have for a festival as large and successful as the Cranberry Festival, and that in his opinion it should be nurtured and improved as much as possible.

  4. The construction could be a problem for this year's festival?

    Eric Woodward answered that once the BIA has a proposed construction schedule to react to, the Board would work hard to ensure the Cranberry Festival is not affected.

  5. Is the vending rate for members and non-members the same?

    Non-members pay more than members for a street presence during Cranberry Festival.

  6. Some general criticism was expressed regarding the BIA's communication in general, specifically that some were not aware of the utilities conversion, and suggested that "the BIA" come around to business owners and talk to them. The first some heard of the utilities conversion was Kate Hagstrom's flyer. Eric Woodward was criticized for his "brusque" response to that flyer, and that not all communication should be based on a website.

    Eric Woodward outlined it will be a challenge for the BIA to always inform each member directly, in person, and that, in his opinion, the website really is the most practical tool for communication and information. In the case of the utilities conversion, specifically, Eric outlined that it is his perception that almost everyone knew about it because it was in the newspaper when it first went to Township Council in July 2012, it was in Township Council agendas, and that during the official petition period many were debating its merits. He apologized that his response seemed "brusque" but explained that he was responding to personal attacks and deliberate misinformation by Kate Hagstrom who was attempting to prevent the project from proceeding.

    Eric further outlined that the process to complete the LAS is dictated by provincial legislation, and only involves the property owners, formally. He confirmed that nobody chose or preferred that process.

    Misty Vanpopta reminded everyone that Board members are volunteers, and all try very hard, but that it is time consuming and basically impossible to reach each and every person on every issue, personally. She added that it is great that everyone can now check in once in a while and see what the BIA is planning and considering, since all the minutes are now available online, whereas before they were basically not available. She confirmed that the Board will try to improve its communication going forward.

    Jim Dyck outlined that the BIA will be as transparent as possible with the new website.

  7. What is the BIA's position on May Day for 2013?

    Casey Smith confirmed that the Board may change its position, but that it resolved in 2012 to support it financially with $500, but not participate formally in its planning or implementation.

  8. So, the BIA will will not be organizing anything in regards to street vendors for May Day?

    Eric Woodward outlined that the vending attempts with May Day this year lost money, and that the Board decided that it would not be attempted again in 2013.

    Casey Smith outlined that May Day gets a very mixed reaction from many merchants, and many are not even open because people just want to use the washroom, and few spend any money while attending the parade, and leave immediately afterwards. This has generated more negative than positive opinions of the May Day parade from merchants.

    Kurt Alberts mentioned that, historically, May Day has never been a business initiative, but is a community event, but has struggled to maintain community involvement. He commented that he did not see May Day as a BIA responsibility.

  9. What are the thoughts for the marketing plan?

    Eric Woodward outlined that he wanted the BIA to consider pursuing a limited "South of The Fraser" strategy, focused initially on Surrey and Abbotsford, given their proximity to Fort Langley compared to other areas.

    He suggested that the website should become the primary promotional vehicle, with online advertising such as Facebook (as an example), as the primary expenditure since it can be measured (at least somewhat) for effectiveness.

    He confirmed that he would like the Board to continue to attempt to find some way to measure return, at least anecdotally, since the BIA cannot afford expensive marketing strategies or measurement systems.

  10. What is planned for Christmas?

    There is money set aside for Christmas this year, but specifics of what that might look like are unknown at this point.

  11. As a final comment, Jim Dyck commented that in the 20-25 years that he has been involved in Fort Langley, 2012 is the year that we made the most significant inroads into the relationship and contacts with the Township of Langley, and that the BIA now deals with specific people in specific departments, and that the BIA is not "shuffled around" anymore.
  12. Eric Woodward thanked everyone for coming, and expressed optimism for further achievements to come in 2013.
Be it resolved that the Fort Langley BIA Annual General Meeting is hereby terminated.
Dixie Jacobson
Misty Vanpopta
Without Dissent

Meeting adjourned at 7:52pm.