Original Published 11:05 May 19, 2022

By John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Census appeal

The Village is going to appeal its 2021 federal census results.

The census results, released earlier this year, showed Silverton lost a whopping 23% of its population – from 195 to 149 – in the last five years. Mayor Colin Ferguson said on their release that the numbers made no sense.

To appeal the count, the Village can supply additional internal data to Census Canada to challenge its numbers. In this case, the Village wants to use the electoral rolls it drew up for its recent byelection. 

Council voted to have the CAO ask Elections BC for permission to use the rolls to help make its case. The names on those rolls are protected by privacy laws, requiring council to ask for special permission to use them in its case.

“They will be perusing the list to extract certain statistical data, but no identifiable personal information,” said Main.

Community Initiatives grants

Council held its annual special meeting April 27 to decide which groups would receive Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Program grants for 2022.

The Healthy Community Society of the North Slocan Valley was one of the big winners, receiving more than $8,100 for their food programs, which take place mostly at Lucerne School. Harvest Share also received $1,999 for its food program. The New Denver and Area Housing Society received $1,500 for the affordable housing project.

Youth and children also received support – with Lucerne Elementary getting $4,000 for the bouldering wall project, the Goat Mountain Kids Society receiving $1,200, and the Youth Centre Society receiving $2,700.

The environment and recreation weren’t ignored by the council. The Arrow Lakes Environmental Stewardship Society received $3,500 to study the environmental impacts of wildfires and wildfire mitigation; the North Slocan Trails Society got $1,700 for its Butter MTB Trail Phase 2 project; the Rosebery-Summit-Bonanza Trail Alliance received $1,500 to do trail improvements; and the Slocan Lake Golf Club got $1,000.

Arts groups received several big grants, including the Northern Valley Mountain Film Festival ($2,000), the Valhalla Fine Arts Society ($3,000) and the Spark in the Dark Lantern Festival ($1,500).

About a dozen groups received smaller grants as well.

There were some tough choices to make – the Village had $37,193 to spend, and more than $55,034 in requests. 

The council’s decisions were expected to be approved by the board of directors of the Regional District of Central Kootenay at its May meeting.

New garbage cans

The Village will install two new public garbage bins in the public works yard at the Village office in an effort to contain illegal dumping.

That was the result of a discussion on the placement of the two bins. Several other options were discussed – at the campground, day park, or Silver Cove – but they all came with problems. One big issue was people overstuffing the bins and leaving a prime bear-attractant mess in their wake. One councillor also pointed a finger at out-of-town residents dumping their garbage in the village. 

Council feels by having the bins in a controlled space, they will be able to gauge how useful they are and keep an eye on non-residents using the bins.

The Village will also post signage making it clear the bins are only for community residents.

General Store renos

The owners of the Silverton General Store have received permission to do some major renovations to their heritage building.

Steve and Danika Hammond want to install a sprinkler system, improve the main floor firewalls, install two bathrooms, and rewire the building as required. They’re also putting in a large septic system.

They say the project will cost about $135,000 in total. 

To make changes to the historic building, or any building along that stretch of highway, they had to apply for a development permit.

Despite some concerns about the lack of details in the proposal, councillors approved the development permit. They noted that details were not necessary as the project involves upgrades to the interior of the building, while development permit regulations apply more to building exteriors.

Art gallery lease

Village council wants to have a better relationship with its tenant, the Slocan Lake Arts Council, and its rental of the historic gallery and performance space building in town.

Council approved a plan to review the policy governing the tenancy, and its lease, with SLAC. The idea is to ensure that when it comes up for renewal next year, the relationship between the Village and artist’s group will be clearer.

Calling their communications over the last few years “challenging,” staff asked for a review of the lease “to address the concerns and create a positive process and clear understanding of the relationship and responsibilities of both parties.”

A report relates several incidents in recent years where SLAC did work on the building without fully having the Village involved. That included moving some wiring around and painting the sprinkler system, “which impacted the integrity of the system,” a report from staff said.

“It seems there was work being done that was not approved by the Village,” said Main. “Since we own that building and have liability around it, we need to address some of those things.”

Staff said now was a good time to launch a review of the tenancy policy for the building, as the lease was due for renewal in 2023. 

“The policy does not seem easy for staff to follow and did not seem to be helping the society understand what was expected of them… council should be reviewing before the deadline of the 2023 lease agreement,” said CAO Hillary Elliot.

“It’s not really facilitating good communication between us as the building owners, and the gallery society as the lessors,” said Main. 

The lease and policy was referred to a future Committee of the Whole discussion in the months to come. 

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