Original Published on Jun 30, 2022 at 10:08

By John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Arena alarm upgrades

A project to improve the fire alarm system in the arena is being put on the front burner.

Council approved a plan to have PBX, an engineering firm, begin the design work on a new fire alarm system. PBX was hired to do an assessment of the job a few months ago, and staff recommended they be hired for the next phase of the project, as well.

“For continuity, their familiarity with the project, and our project timeline, staff recommends continuing the design and construction administration with PBX,” says a staff report. 

Staff said the timeline to complete the fire alarm replacement was “aggressive,” as PBX will complete the detailed design and prepare tender documents within six weeks, so the project can be tendered by August.

“[A] delay in procurement of the design would push the construction schedule to after the next winter arena season, which would require an extension to the grant and poses a public safety risk now that the extent of the deficiencies in the fire alarm system are known,” cautioned staff.

The project is small enough – $27,250 – that the Village doesn’t have to go through the formal tendering process under its procurement policy. 

Riverbank restoration to begin

It looks like the long-delayed work on the Kaslo River dike and bank restoration is finally about to get underway. Council approved hiring BBA Engineering Ltd. to manage the project, gather the needed permits, and conduct field engineering services.

Work on the flood control project began in 2016, but environmental regulations, design changes, and permit and funding delays have set back the project. The cost has also increased from $304,000 to $460,066.

While they’ve managed to secure some more funding, the project has had to be split into two phases and scaled back, and some portions put off until more funding can be found. 

The plan is to call for tenders in time for construction work to begin in the fall, during low water on the river. The Village has until the spring of 2023 to complete the work under the current federal Fisheries permits.

Vote by mail this October

Voters in Kaslo who can’t make it to the polling station on municipal election day this October will be encouraged to apply for a mail-in ballot instead.

The Village gave first three readings to its revised Election Procedures bylaw, which governs how local elections are run.

“In the past, Kaslo and other municipalities offered special voting opportunities in health care facilities and care homes, typically for patients/residents and workers who were not able to travel to regular polling stations,” says a report by Corporate Officer Catherine Allaway. 

“…Since the eligibility criteria in provincial legislation has now been expanded to allow mail ballot voting by the individuals that historically used the special voting opportunities, it is recommended that special voting opportunities be replaced with mail ballot voting in the fall 2022 election.” 

Allaway said information on how to use mail-in balloting will be part of the Village’s election advertising.

Jazz Fest jazz

Council dealt with several items about the upcoming Kaslo Jazz Festival. It approved the festival applying for a beer garden licence for the event, and approved in principle a plan to use the South Beach property as a campground during the festival. 

The Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre plans on running the campground, on land south of the mouth of the Kaslo River. And while the property owner has okayed the plan, the Village doesn’t permit camping on the site – thus the need for a Temporary Use Permit from the town government.

“There is significant demand for local accommodation during Jazz Fest,” said a report to council from staff. “Providing options for organized camping is likely to reduce the amount of illegal camping during the event and improve public safety.”

KLIC will have to put up a $5,000 security deposit to ensure that taxpayers won’t be on the hook if any post-festival cleanup is needed.

Councillors gave their approval in principle, and the Village will send out notices of the permit application. Council was to make a final decision at its June 28 meeting.

FireSmart contract

The Village is going to keep this year’s FireSmart work in the capable hands of a locally based consultant.

Council approved letting a $53,000 contract to Cathro Consulting to manage the 2022 Community Resiliency Investment (FireSmart) project. 

“Given their successful track record and the efficiencies that result from continuity, staff recommends awarding the management of the next phase of the project directly to Cathro Consulting,” says a report to city leaders.

The project will cost a total of $139,000, and is fully funded by a Union of BC Municipalities program.

EV for City Hall

Two parking spots at City Hall are going to be converted to EV charging stations.

Council voted to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Community Energy Association to install two Level 2 stations outside the Village hall.

Under the program, the Village gets a $10,000 subsidy for each station, if it puts up $1,000 towards the installation.

“Participating in the program will allow Kaslo to lead the transition to renewable energy at minimal cost to the taxpayer,” says a staff report. “It will also ensure that Kaslo is included as a tourist destination in the Kootenay Rockies Tourism initiatives to promote tourism to this growing market.”

The Village will be responsible for maintaining the stations for five years.

Fence me in

The Village is going to do some fencing around town. It’s going to spend about $34,700 to fence off the Murray Pearson Memorial ball field, public works yard and the Legion parking area.

Money for the ball park fence comes from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and the Kaslo Baseball & Softball Association. The Village will provide labour and machine time.

The Kaslo Legion parking lot fence was part of an access deal made for the A Avenue watermain project. Finally, the public works yard needs a new fence now that the Kaslo River bridge project is complete.

Council approved the purchase of the chain-link fence. 

Rainbow crosswalk re-do

Kaslo’s Pride committee is going to take another crack at painting the rainbow crosswalk. The project was supposed to take place on the community’s Pride Day on June 4, but the event was rained out. 

Council approved two road closures in June to allow the group to try again. 

Event organizers agreed to contact neighbouring businesses to advise them of the plans for rescheduling.

The timeline for the closure allows the public works crew to install the barricades prior to the end of their workday so that the student volunteers can paint in the afternoon/evening. The road will be reopened the next morning.

Aerodrome leases

The village can take down the ‘vacancy’ signs at the Kaslo Aerodrome.

Council approved giving public notice that they intend to lease out the last two hangars available at the airport. With annual increases, they’ll make close to $10,000 over five years from the two leases.

The leases mark a milestone for the aerodrome. Staff have been working since last year to resurvey and rationalize boundaries on the property to enable new opportunities for growth.

“The leased lands, and any improvements constructed on them, will also generate tax revenue for the municipality,” notes the report to council. “Long-term leases are recorded by BC Assessment Authority, and the tax exemption for municipal lands will cease to apply.”

Absent for UBCM

Kaslo Village leaders will be attending meetings with provincial ministers at an upcoming conference without the mayor leading the entourage. Mayor Suzan Hewat told council she had a conflict with a Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference being held the same week as the Union of BC Municipalities meeting in September.

“Knowing I have four members of council to attend meetings, and the CAO will be there, I will prioritize FCM, knowing I have people backstopping me to represent the Village at the UBCM,” she told council. 

It will be Hewat’s first meeting with the national municipal organization, having been elected to the board of directors at a meeting in May. The FCM pays for the mayor’s travel to the meeting.

This item reprinted with permission from Valley Voice, New Denver, British Columbia