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Kaslo council roundup: Improvements to begin at Murray Pearson Memorial Ball Park

All the news from the May 14 meeting
Improvements are coming to Kaslo’s Murray Pearson Memorial Ball Park. Photo: Google

by Rachel Lesosky

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

Kaslo Baseball and Softball Association (KBSA) has received the go-ahead to begin improvements to the Murray Pearson Memorial Ball Park.

The upgrades include constructing dugouts and adding a batting cage, outfield fence, and digital scoreboard. At council’s May 14 meeting, chief administrative officer Robert Baker said work will begin in the fall.

KBSA received two grants from the RDCK to fund the project: $20,000 from the Community Works Fund, and a $12,000 Community Development grant. The Village will offer about $8,000 in equipment and labour as in-kind services. KBSA will cover all other material and cost overruns.

With KBSA’s new extended baseball season getting underway – increased from 13-to-31 weeks, and from five-to-seven days per week – a resident living adjacent expressed concern about errant balls. In a letter from April 16, they said balls have landed in their yard and have almost hit neighbours and pedestrians.

The resident met with KBSA in December and learned that KBSA would install safety netting in 2025. However, the resident would now like safety netting installed this year, but the Village is unable to accommodate the request because of the cost. One safety net pole costs upwards of $50,000.

In the meantime, the Village will install gates and signage at pathway entrances to keep pedestrians from entering while KBSA is playing. The Village will also amend its user agreement with KBSA, stating that players are responsible for any property damage or injury caused by errant balls. The agreement will also require KBSA to use equipment that limits the speed and distance of balls.

“I’d like to continue to put the pressure on them to explore ways of keeping the balls within the park as much as possible, so if there ever is an issue, the Village can demonstrate our due diligence to do everything in our power to try and keep the balls within our property – knowing we don’t have funding right now to physically prevent the balls from leaving,” said Baker.

Councillor Matthew Brown recused himself as he sits on the board of KBSA.

Kemball Building upgrades

Council awarded a contract to Town Architecture to create design plans and secure construction services for work on the Kemball Building, home of the Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre. The contract is based on a rate of $145/hour to a maximum of $25,000.

The project is partly funded by the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program, which expires March 31, 2025. Due to the short timeline, two other architectural firms that the Village contacted declined to work on the project.

Town Architecture is based in Kaslo and has already completed architectural services for the Kemball Building, along with other Village facilities. Staff and council are confident with the quality of the firm’s work.

Active transportation plan

Council awarded another contract, this time to develop an Active Transportation Network Plan. Watt Consulting Group will take on the project for a fee of $32,335.

Funds will come from two grants: $15,000 from the British Columbia Active Transportation Infrastructure grant program, and $17,335 from the Local Government Climate Action Program.

Active transportation is human-powered transportation, such as walking, cycling, and scooting. It also includes using devices like mobility aids, electric bicycles, and electric scooters to reach destinations.

Jazz Fest campground

Council granted a Temporary Use Permit to the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Society (KJES) to operate a campground on the lands known as South Beach. The campground will be active from Aug. 1-5, in conjunction with the 31st annual Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival.

KJES will need to provide a $5,000 security deposit and appropriate insurance coverage. It will also need to return the site to its pre-event condition no later than 14 days after the event. The South Beach property owner has given KJES consent.

Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan

Council adopted a new Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan (CWRP).

“The goal of the document is to provide guidance and direction for community wildfire resiliency for the next five years,” said Kaslo’s FireSmart co-ordinator Jessie Lay, who attended the meeting.

The plan identifies wildfire risks within and surrounding Kaslo, particularly in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) – the area where human development meets the natural environment. Rooted in the seven FireSmart principles, the CWRP focuses on Crown and publicly owned land, including municipal.

Some recommendations include integrating the FireSmart principles into all future municipal infrastructure and building projects; ensuring new developments have evacuation access and capacity for emergency vehicles; and supporting emergency preparedness training for the Kaslo and Area Volunteer Fire Department and other relevant municipal staff.

Cathro Consulting Ltd. and B.A. Blackwell and Associates Ltd. jointly developed the plan, in collaboration with community stakeholders. It replaces the 2016 Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Plan development was funded by a 2023 Union of BC Municipalities Community Resiliency Investment (CRI) grant. Having a plan is required to receive CRI funding.

Financial plan and tax rates

Council adopted the Village’s five-year financial plan and tax rate bylaws.

For the average homeowner, property taxes will rise by about five per cent. Some of the increase in property taxes is slightly offset this year by new development. About $8,000 of the Village’s required $782,000 in taxes this year will come from new construction in the community.

RCMP quarterly report

Corp. Harland Venema of the Kaslo RCMP detachment submitted the quarterly crime statistics for January, February, and March.

There were 38 calls for service in Kaslo, 42 calls south of Kaslo to Balfour, and 31 calls north of Kaslo. Two were assaults, one was auto theft, two were thefts from motor vehicles, and six were motor vehicle collisions. There were 19 mental health related calls and 11 files involving drugs/alcohol, while 24 calls had to do with the Criminal Code (property, person/violent, and other).