Both North Vancouver mayors will play leading roles at Metro Vancouver in the upgrade of the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant.
District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton is no longer vice-chairman of the Metro board, a position he held for three years, but will instead chair the finance committee, which has to give the green light to all major expenditures undertaken by Metro.
Meanwhile, City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto will chair the utilities commission, which will shepherd the expensive sewage plant upgrade through the regional government.
"I think it shows in the region a lot of confidence in both Richard and myself and the North Shore in general that they're willing to have two high-profile committees chaired by the two mayors of North Vancouver," said Mussatto.
He described the plant upgrade as the biggest cost facing Metro, likely upwards of $400-million. That is the estimate to convert the Lions Gate plant to secondary treatment from primary treatment, something the federal government now requires.
Richmond's plant also requires an update, though is second on the priority list.
To date, the federal and provincial governments have not committed to contributing to the cost. If they don't, local taxpayers could see utility fees increase eightfold by 2030, according to a Metro report.
"Of course there's a lot of public concern over the extent of the increases," said Walton. "But the increases that come to Metro to a great extent reflect how much provincial and federal contribution there's been."
The utilities committee is actually a new creation, combining the previous water committee with the sewage function of the waste committee. The solid waste function will fall to a new zero waste committee, which will be tasked with how to move forward with plans to capture energy through incinerating garbage.
The Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee, previously a separate body, has been brought inside the Metro Vancouver umbrella to become the aboriginal affairs committee,.
The Labour Relation Bureau's board has been disbanded leaving the future of regional collective bargaining hanging in limbo.
Mussatto will also sit on the port committee, which he chaired in the previous term of council, and has been chosen by Metro board chairman Greg Moore of Port Coquitlam for the regional planning and agriculture committee as well, though he said he will recommend Coun. Rod Clark for that spot instead.
The port committee continues to negotiate a new tax arrangement with the port, which has previously written cheques in lieu of taxes based on its own assessments rather than B.C. assessments, which municipalities say have shortchanged them by millions of dollars. Mussatto said he expects a resolution to that problem this year.
Coun. Don Bell represents the city on the housing committee. West Vancouver is represented by Couns. Michael Lewis on the finance committee, Trish Panz at utilities and Mary-Ann Booth on the aboriginal affairs committee. Booth emphasized the need for West Vancouver to be at the table with aboriginal issues.
"The Squamish Nation is a big part of our community," she said. "I know that they're going through some changes and that the relationship between West Vancouver and the First Nations community is really important."
District of North Vancouver is also represented by Couns. Alan Nixon, Mike Little, Robin Hicks and Roger Bassam on a total of eight of the 12 committees, giving them the same representation as the more populous Coquitlam and Delta, and more than Langley Township.
All the appointments were made by Moore and are still subject to change.