The City of Merritt has approved the CPO mandate unanimously at its regular meeting held on Feb. 13.

After spending the better part of a year searching for a new mandate for the Community Policing Office (CPO), the city’s police committee decided to submit to council a set of strategic priorities already drawn up by co-ordinator Marlene Jones.

The document comes complete with a mandate and mission statement and was passed by council without discussion by a 6-0 vote.

Coun. Linda Brown was not in attendance for the meeting as she was on vacation.

The strategic priorities of the CPO include promoting prevention, education, intervention and reduction of crime. Strategic priorities of the mandate are drug and alcohol awareness, improving the image of spirit square, bike and motor vehicle act education, as well as youth and community engagement.

Corporate officer to prepare phone-in amendment

The City of Merritt’s corporate officer is preparing an amendment to council’s procedure bylaw to allow a call-in option for absentees.

The current procedure bylaw doesn’t permit phone or electronic participation in council or committee meetings, and council will now consider a number of options for regulating that type of attendance.

A report from the city’s corporate officer, Sean Smith, includes examples of when this option can be used, including the number of times a member can call in, how much notice needs be given and how many people can use the phone-in option at one time.

“Councils are given complete authority to regulate the type and degree to which phones or other electronic means are used to participate in meetings,” the report stated.

It goes on to state that the city’s board room is equipped to to handle phone or video participation, while council chambers could accommodate phones, but require an upgrade to accommodate both options.

Coun. Dave Baker recommended implementing this phone-in option for committee meetings in January to avoid meetings being cancelled sue to a lack of quorum.

“Quite often one or two people can’t make it,” Baker told his fellow councillors at their the Feb. 13 meeting. “If they can phone in the committee goes ahead with their meeting.”

Coun. Kurt Christopherson mentioned missing quorum is s serious concern because if three meetings are missed in a row the committee is dissolved.

Council’s environment committee, which Christopherson sits on, missed two consecutive meetings due to a lack of quorum.

Smith told the Herald via email he will consider the technological capabilities of the city and what restrictions make sense for this type of rule when making a proposed amendment for council consideration.

Coldwater trail agreement renewed

The City of Merritt has renewed an agreement with the province to continue providing access to a community walking trail.

Back in 2008, the municipality entered into a license of occupation with the provincial government allowing the city to use this strip of land south of Nicola Avenue, which was part of the old railway corridor.

“While this is not a pivotal acquisition, it does secure the city’s access to land that is used by city residents as walking trail, at no cost to the city,” stated a report to council for corporate officer Sean Smith.

The land is not included as a trail within the City of Merritt parks and recreation master plan, but acts as an unofficial extension of a city trail that follows the Coldwater River and ends where it meets the Nicola River.

The 10-year license of occupation extension will see the city pay $1 fee and provide the province with an insurance certificate evidencing $2 million of commercial general liability insurance coverage, which the city already maintains.