WERA General Meeting September 24, 2013

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September 24, 2013: commenced 7:00 p.m.
                Chair: Elmer Rudolph
                Recorder: Gavin McLeod
                Number of attendees: 16
Approval of minutes of previous meetings: Motion to approve minutes of May 28th,      2013. Moved by Heather MacKenzie and seconded by Sloane Drennan.

Abandoned Underground Oil Tanks (Jim Wishlove): Jim Wishlove, Assistant Deputy Chief provided a very well received presentation on the processes and procedures involving abandoned underground oil tanks. General topics covered were:
1. NWFRS permit process for removing an underground oil storage tank
a. Details within the permit application process
b. Follow-up once the tank is removed
c. City of NW process to document the removal
d. Availability of information to property owner(s) and general public on RUST
    (Residential Underground Storage Tanks) details per property
e. Expectations within the permit
f. Support and Guidance available through NWFRS
2. General hazards/potential hazards associated with RUST and products
3. Regulation of RUST (Residential Underground Storage Tanks) found within the BC             Fire Code.Mr. Wishlove related the history of oil tanks in New Westminster and why the BC fire  code decided that the fire department was assigned responsibility for maintaining a
 database of underground oil tanks. The city maintains an online registry of oil tanks and their status, the information is
 available at “My City “on the New Westminster City website.
Oil tanks were installed between the mid 1940 and the late 50s when natural gas
 became available. Because the city records may not be complete or completely
 accurate it may be necessary to have the property scanned to determine if there is an
 underground oil tank present. If an oil tank is present the home owner must
decide what to do about it. There is an increasing tendency for insurance companies
 to demand removal of underground oil tanks before they will renew the house
 insurance; it is also becoming more common for real estate agents to demand
 removal of underground oil tanks as a condition of sale. Mr. Wishlove advised on the
 process of hiring a company to remove an underground oil tank. The company must
 have a valid New Westminster business license; the company should also be 
researched through the Better Business Bureau and through references from
prior customers. It is always best to get 3 estimates. It may be possible to avoid
removing the underground tank if it would cause structural weaknesses in a structure
 on the lot, however remediation of the tank is necessary and the cost is normally more
than removing the tank. The process of removing the tank and remediating the site
must be completed within 14 days of the company obtaining a permit from the city of
New Westminster. The cost of removing underground oil tanks has increased
 considerably in recent years. The cost increases greatly if the tank has leaked
and contaminated the soil as the soil must be removed, if the contamination has
 spread to other properties the cost may be very high, a property in the west end had a
 large leak that the contaminated several properties, the cost was estimated to be as
 high as $400,000. Finding an above ground oil tank is no assurance that there is not
 an underground oil tanks as the above ground tank my have been installed to replace 
a leaking underground tank. The number of underground oil tanks in New Westminster
is not available but I (Gavin McLeod) have used the “My City” website to determine
 that within the one block area where I live there are 11 active oil tanks listed.
Elmer Rudolph asked a company representative about oil tanks and was told that about 1/3 of the tanks they remove are leaking. Mr. Wishlove answered questions about oil tanks as well as asbestos removal. Mr. Wishlove informed the attendees that Fire prevention week this year will be from Oct.6th to Oct. 12th and will focus on preventing kitchen fires.
WERA letter re. Lord Tweedsmuir parking problems (Elmer Rudolph): Elmer Rudolph reported on traffic problems around Lord Tweedsmuir school when parents are dropping off or picking up children, the problem is especially bad on 18th street between 8th Avenue and Hamilton Street as the street is narrow and parents park on both sides of the street, this causes congestion and problems with drivers wanting to drive through, occasionally transit buses come up 18th to avoid congestion on 20th street. Elmer Rudolph has created a plan to create a drop off area on Hamilton street by excavating part of the school boulevard to provide a parking pull out. The space suggested would accommodate
approximately 16 cars. Elmer sent letters outlining his suggestion to City hall, the Board of School Trustees and the administration of Lord Tweedsmuir School, at this time no response has been received.
Report on Pedestrian/ Bicycle committee (Mary Wilson): Mary Wilson reported on the latest ActBiPed committee meeting, she reported on discussion on the city’s Master transportation Plan and suggested that there should be a Master Transportation plan for pedestrians and bicyclists. Mary reported on the annual walk and bike to familiarize
the committee and Councillors on the problems existing in the city. Mary emphasized the lack of accessibility from River Drive, this has been an ongoing issue since the removal of the at grade cross from Grimston park across 6th and Stewardson. At the latest ActBiped meeting Gavin McLeod sat in as a guest and suggested that the committee create a position on a crossing, a motion was made, seconded and passed to investigate an at grade crossing at 20th and/ or a pedestrian/ bicycle overpass from Grimston across 6th and Stewardson. Eugene Wat stated that, according to Translink, the cost of a bicycle/ pedestrian overpass from Grimston park across 6th Ave and Stewardson way would cost 9 million dollars, Gavin McLeod suggested that it should not cost the same as the proposed Bascule bridge from downtown to Port Royal.
Report on Contractors violating City Bylaws (Mary Wilson): Mary Wilson reported on violations by house builders including building retaining walls on to city property and blocking sidewalks causing pedestrians to walk on the street. Mary suggested that the city’s “SeeClickFix” app would be useable for reporting such violations.
Community Policing Committee Report (Gavin McLeod): Gavin McLeod reported on the September 16 meeting of the committee, There was an upswing in automobile break ins during the summer and an attempt to steal car licence plates.
Promoting Interest in WERA (Mary Wilson): Mary Wilson suggested methods of increasing community interest in WERA, Mary suggested that a list of frequently asked questions with answers be placed on the WERA website but did not suggest what the questions would be.
Delegation to City Council concerning a pedestrian overpass over Stewardson Way (Elmer Rudolph): Elmer Rudolph reported on the ongoing attempt by WERA to cause an overpass to be created, this has been a continuing struggle since 2004. Elmer Rudolph will make another attempt hopefully with support from the community The delegation will occur in October as Elmer has much work to do to prepare for it.

Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Next meeting tentatively scheduled for Tuesday November 26, 2013 at Unity in Action Church from 7pm to 9pm.

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