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Kaslo council roundup: controversial building project granted variance

All the news from the Oct. 10 meeting

by Rachael Lesosky

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

A Kaslo woman has been granted a development variance permit for an odd-shaped lot near B Avenue, despite neighbours’ objections.

Leah Honkanen, on behalf of her mother and property owner Irene Edwards, received council approval to reduce the front yard setback from 7.5 metres to three metres for a future home on the property.

Honkanen originally asked for the setback to be reduced to one metre, but that was denied by council on April 25 this year.

So in July, Margaret Irene Edwards re-applied, but this time for a three-metre setback. The application was considered at the Sept. 12 council meeting, and deferred to this meeting to give council more time to become informed about it.

“I think this is a pretty challenging variance to do,” Councillor Molly Leathwood said.

Leathwood said she visited the site, and noted the concerns of each side of the debate. “I really had to just look at the practicality and the conditions that we had put on the variance,” she said. “I think we’ve done a good job putting conditions on the variance before it gets approved that will at least alleviate some of the concerns that the property owners have.”

One of these conditions was a topographic survey, which has been done and shows there is ample room for a future sidewalk on Village property, and that the B Avenue path would not be obstructed.

Councillor Erika Bird turned the discussion to whether or not residential development is the best use of the land.

“I have spent a lot of time thinking about this one,” Bird said. “There is this concept that, because of the zoning, the highest and best use of that piece of land is residential.”

Members of the public have also expressed concern about best usage, particularly when it comes to protecting the mature trees on the lot. However, the lot is zoned residential, and development is in line with the Official Community Plan.

“If I had all the wishes in the world, I’d make a little toddler park there,” said Bird. “But I feel strongly that my opinion should matter less than a proper analysis of it. … We have to take matters like this on a case-by-case basis.”

Council’s approval will allow Edwards to potentially subdivide the property. Before building can occur, Edwards will need to get a geotechnical survey done by a professional to understand the effect of tree removal on the stability of the slope. She will also need to provide a detailed plan of the sewerage system and other utility connections, as well as the location of driveways and parking.

Waterfront development proposal

A major waterfront proposal is now before council.

Quality Property Developments Inc. is proposing a strata RV park (75-90 sites), a small boat launch, four-to-eight private residences and some parkland (a public trail along the river to the lake) on a waterfront property known locally as South Beach.

“This project has been going on for two years in the background,” said chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop, “and the applicant is finally at the stage where they felt comfortable bringing it forward.”

The approximately 30-acre property is bordered on the north by Kaslo River and on the east by Kootenay Lake, and accessed via Highway 31 near the new bridge. About 15 acres of the property is developable.

Currently zoned M-1 Industrial, reflecting its historical use as a sawmill, it also has a Waterfront Development Area designation resulting from the 2022 OCP update. This limits development on the property to passive recreational uses.

The developer is proposing a rezoning of the property into three different zones. The RV Park part of the land would be zoned C-4 Commercial Recreation-RV Camping, which does not currently exist in Kaslo’s zoning bylaw. A draft description of the new zone has been provided by the proponent as part of the rezoning application.

The portion of the property on the far lake-end where the private residences are planned would be rezoned to multi-family residential. The public riverfront trail leading to the lake would be zoned Parks and Open Space and would be owned and maintained by the village.

The rezoning application was submitted to the village along with an environmental impact assessment, traffic impact review, flood hazard assessment, and sewage dispersal assessment.

Masonic Lodge added to heritage register

The Kaslo Masonic Hall on A Avenue will be added to Kaslo’s Community Heritage Register.

Council approved the request from the Kaslo Masonic Lodge, which included the required documentation, prepared with the assistance of the Kootenay Lake Historical Society.

The Kaslo Lodge was the second lodge in the Kootenays, and is the oldest original wooden free-standing Masonic Lodge building in B.C. Built by the Green Brothers in 1894, Masonic Lodge No. 25 moved into the upper floor two years later. In 1938, the Lodge acquired the building. For over 125 years, the Freemasons have been hosting 10 meetings a year in the upper room, which is still in its original state.

Handicapped parking signs

Council gave the go-ahead for the village crew to make handicapped parking spaces in town more visible.

The Kaslo Accessibility Committee did a walkabout of downtown Kaslo at the end of August to evaluate accessibility. It found that the handicapped parking signs are not obvious.

“The signs are not facing the street,” Councillor Leathwood said. “When drivers come, they can’t see it.”

A staff report notes that reorienting signs is a relatively low-cost measure to help make downtown more accessible to those facing mobility barriers.

Telecommunications tower

Rogers Communications will have to conduct public consultation before it can be approved for a telecommunications tower on the Kaslo Golf Course.

The company hopes to install the tower to the west of the clubhouse, near the Bell Media tower. The proposed bylaw amendment will create a new zone on the golf course that authorizes the installation of the tower.