Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo council, June 8: Land acknowledgement opens council meeting

Kaslo council hasn’t previously used the acknowledgement

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

For the first time, Mayor Suzan Hewat opened a session of Kaslo Village council with a traditional land acknowledgement.

“We recognize the First Nations within whose unceded lands the Village of Kaslo is situated,” she said, “… including the Ktunaxa, Sinixt, and Syilx people and Indigenous and Metis residents of our community.”

She then asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of the “215 children whose lives were lost at the Kamloops residential school,” she said, her voice quivering with emotion. “… And the countless other Indigenous children and their families whose lives were torn apart by the residential school system.”

While the acknowledgement is a first, it’s not clear when it will happen again. Council has not changed its procedures bylaw yet to adopt the acknowledgment as part of the formalities at the start of a meeting. That’s been a discussion that’s gone on since mid-2020.

“We were hoping council would make a decision,” Hewat said after the meeting. “But it will be up to the individual chairs of committees if they want to read an acknowledgment or not.”

That will be the situation until the procedures bylaw is updated, sometime this summer. Councillors will make a decision at that point whether the acknowledgement should be made a mandatory part of every Village meeting agenda, or left to the discretion of the committee chairs.

Plastic lining may save Village money

The Village of Kaslo has a problem with its A Avenue watermain.

When they put 100 gallons of water in at one end, only 85 gallons comes out the other.

“It’s decades old and it’s an old steel line, so it’s in poor condition when in use,” said CAO Ian Dunlop. “We know it’s fairly porous.”

The original plan was to install a whole new line. But that was going to cost close to a $1 million – and possibly more, given the uncertainties about what crews might find underground that could complicate the project.

That had the town looking for other ideas – and it learned about re-lining pipes.

“Even though the pipe is in poor condition, linings have very good success rates,” Dunlop told council.

Essentially, the old waterline would be inspected by camera, and if it is in good enough condition (i.e. no major bends), then the lining is inserted inside the 15-centimetre pipe. It then expands to seal the pipe from the inside, adding years to the infrastructure’s life.

The biggest benefit is the project can be done at one-third the cost and in two weeks, instead of two months.

But, there is some risk, Dunlop admitted. They will have to spend about $50,000 to $60,000 for the camera inspection just to see if the project is feasible. That could be money – wait for it – down the drain, if they can’t proceed to the next phase.

“But if it works, it would be much less expensive, much less disruptive,” Dunlop told the Village leaders.

Council decided to give staff the discretion to move forward on the project, and report back to council.

Gazebo goes ahead

Plans to build a new picnic structure at the Kaslo Family Bike Park are moving ahead, now that the project has a long-term sponsor in the Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trails Society. KORTS has committed to maintaining the gazebo after it’s been built. Council passed a motion to approve the construction of the gazebo.

Paving Kaslo Back Road

A motion to support a provincial paving initiative hit a bump on the road at the council meeting when councillors rejected the idea of sending a letter to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure supporting the paving of Kaslo South Road.

The province has announced plans to pave the old Back Road into town. Many people look forward to the reduced dust and wear and tear on vehicles. But some residents of the area are not keen on it at all.

“It is not designed to be a regular paved road, much less a secondary highway,” wrote Bill Wells to council. “Paving will ensure that excessive speeding will occur. It is already being used as a race track with many motorcycles and speedsters travelling far in excess of 60 km/h, and even in excess of 80 km/h.”

So when the motion came up to send a letter of support for the project, Councillor Rob Lang said he’d vote nay.

“Well I don’t support that,” he said. “I don’t think we have any jurisdiction outside of Village limits. Nor should we be meddling in the affairs of the Back Road. And I do feel strongly if we can do it, we should pave up to J [Avenue, the Village boundary].”

Lang got enough votes to stop the letter from being sent. He then introduced a new motion to send a letter saying they support the project within Kaslo’s borders.

But it was then pointed out the motion might impact the Village getting a long stretch of road paved at a much reduced price, as the province plans to use recycled asphalt from the old Hwy 31 re-paving project a few years back.

While that portion of the project still has to be negotiated, staff noted that not sending a letter of support might help kibosh the project, and thus jeopardize some cheap infrastructure work.

“Does that change council’s thinking?” asked the mayor, who had voted with Lang.

After a short discussion on the ramifications of their decision, council asked staff instead to look into the cost of the Village paving the stretch of road itself, and referred Lang’s motion for further debate at the June meeting.

In memory of Michael Lind

Two villages a thousand kilometres apart are going to share memories – and memorials – to a person who loved both communities.

When Michael Lind died suddenly of cancer in July 2020, his co-workers pitched in to have a bench dedicated in his memory. Lind was the public works foreman at the Village of Kaslo for several years before falling ill.

“He was the type who would always bend over backwards to help people. He was great to get along with,” remembers Dunlop.

Lind’s bench actually has two crests on it – one for the Village of Kaslo, and one for the Village of Port Alice, a community on north Vancouver Island.

Lind has family there and while he loved Kaslo, he also missed Port Alice.

When Lind’s sister, Gail, learned about the story, she said the idea grew to install a similar bench in Port Alice in memory of her deceased brother.

“Once your bench is installed, would you be able to send us a photo and your coat of arms so that we can create a similar memorial bench as the Kaslo Bench?” she wrote to council. “We thought a twin bench in Port Alice would be appropriate given his passion for both communities and we as a family have been wrestling with what to do to honour our loved one.”

Dunlop says the information will be forwarded soon to Lind’s relatives.