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Kaslo council May 9: Locals descend on council after food truck, noise incidents

And other news from the village council
Kaslo Village Council covered a busy agenda on May 9. File photo

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Valley Voice

A pair of unrelated issues prompted the biggest audience at Kaslo council in many months. More than 20 people showed up to express their concerns about food trucks and loud music – though in the end, both matters were put off to an upcoming meeting of council.

The first issue started when a food truck owner began planning to apply for a licence to serve barbecue meat dishes in Kaslo this summer. When the would-be applicant tried to temporarily set up his site to be able to estimate how much space he needed, he was confronted by residents. Words were exchanged and some misinformation started to spread, staff told the Valley Voice. Council then received letters from local businesses opposed to the application – including one from a brick-and-mortar restaurant who said they were planning the same menu this year.

In the second issue, council received numerous letters – both in favour and opposed – to loud live music at the Angry Hen. That also created discussion at council, as staff have been working for about a year on amendments to the new noise bylaw. The current bylaw is showing its age and is unclear in places – including whether even pet owners can have their animals making noise – and a more significant rewrite may be needed.

Staff suggested a Committee of the Whole meeting on May 30 so council could explore both matters fully.

With that decided, most of the council audience left the building – likely to return for the fulsome debate planned for the end of the month.

Rent break for innovators?

The people trying to develop a business innovation centre in a village-owned building are asking for a rent break until improvements are made in the historic Kemball Building.

Jean-Marc La Flamme of the Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre (KLIC) made the pitch as a delegation to council. He said while the historic building makes a unique and beautiful workspace, ongoing renovations – and long-overdue improvements – have made the space nearly unusable for parts of the year. La Flamme says they’re losing membership and interest in the building as a result.

“It’s too hot in the summer… we haven’t been able to work there properly for years. Last year, we were a construction site the whole year… we can’t work in that building,” he said.

So he asked council for a break on rent, for the summer, which would give the organization some leeway to work on finding more money for the building’s renovations. La Flamme told council his group would be willing to help write more grants to aid in that effort.

Council received the presentation as information, and asked La Flamme to provide a written letter outlining their request. It will be discussed at a future meeting.

Finances finalized

With little fuss, the village finalized its budget for 2023, and passed its five-year financial plan and tax rate bylaws. Property taxes are going up 6.85 per cent for the average homeowner. Water and sewer parcel taxes are going up from $1.10 to $1.32 per foot of frontage. The predicted tax increases in the five-year financial plan are at six per cent in 2024, followed by a five per cent, four per cent and three per cent in 2027.

Final passage of the bylaws will now allow council to print up the municipal tax bills. Only part of those bills will be taxes needed by the Village; the Regional District, regional hospital board, RCMP, and other agencies will also add their bills for service to the tax notice. Those should be out sometime later this month.

Jazz Fest locks up park

The Kaslo Jazz Festival will make full use of the August long weekend for its event. Council approved the festival’s use of Kaslo Bay Park until midnight on August 4, 5 and 6. Council had held off approving the request earlier this spring, calling on the festival to ensure the business community was fully consulted on the idea.

“I would just like to thank the Jazz Fest for going out and talking to local business and doing that community outreach,” said Councillor Matthew Brown. “I think it speaks volumes to the kind of people that work there and the operation they have. Very appreciative of their time and effort.”

Container permit nixed

A request to use a storage container for a temporary retail space on Front Street was soundly panned by several letter-writers to council.

The applicant, who runs the Clothes Hanger retail outlet, had asked council for permission to set up her business for the summer on an empty Front Street lot, because of the lack of retail space in town. She asked that, as part of the permit, she be allowed to put a sea-can on the empty lot while the store was operating.

That didn’t go over well with several local business owners concerned about the historic theme of the downtown.

“In the downtown core of a village that requires building owners to adhere to heritage guidelines, I will not agree to any decision that will allow a shipping container to be dropped on an empty lot for use of any kind,” wrote one. “It will drastically take away from the charm and beauty of our village.”

Even a statement by the applicant that she had ditched the idea of installing a sea-can didn’t change the outcome. Council ruled it wanted to see a development permit application filled out by the applicant before even considering a temporary use permit for the empty lot. There’s no word on the applicant’s plans as a result.

EV stations for park

There’s been a change of plans for two new electric vehicle charging stations in town. Council approved a plan last summer to install the stations outside City Hall – but it hit a snag.

“Due to the presence of already buried infrastructure, the installation at City Hall could not be completed,” a council report noted. “[The Community Energy Association] has agreed to have the charging stations installed at the municipal campground instead.”

The charging stations will be sited beside the campground washroom building at the north end of Vimy Park, because it has adequate power and parking space available.

The installation will cost $20,000, but the village will receive $18,000 in rebates for the construction under the CEA program.

Code of Conduct

Discussions are about to begin on a code of conduct for council members. All local politicians are expected to adhere to certain ethical principles and responsible behaviours while performing their duties in office. They get orientation on what those are soon after they are elected. But recently, the Province has ruled every council also has to adopt a formal code of conduct to cement those principles in place.

Council has known about the provincial requirement, but to date hadn’t formally begun work to adopt a code. That will now begin, and the public will be invited to comment on the issue at an upcoming meeting of council.