Kaslo council on July 12 discussed water mains, the racquet club and accessible patios. File photo

Kaslo council on July 12 discussed water mains, the racquet club and accessible patios. File photo

Kaslo Council Roundup: A Avenue watermain project underway

News from the Kaslo Village Council meeting on July 12

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

Work officially began on the A Ave watermain replacement project in July, with Village staff touring the site with the contractor to discuss the job.

Brenton Industries won the contract to replace the leaky, aging line for $671,435 plus GST. Details of the actual construction are now being worked out and materials being ordered with an expected start date in September, chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop reported at the Village council meeting July 12.

Insurance study

Village staff are going to put together a report on allowing community groups to be covered under the Village’s municipal insurance policy. Several local groups have been included under the policy in recent months, including the baseball club and community garden society. The latest request comes from the Kaslo Racquet Club.

“Like many local non-profit organizations, the Kaslo Racquet Club (KRC) is looking to reduce the amount of their limited budget that must be spent on insurance,” says a report to council. Joining as associate members to the Municipal Insurance Association of BC would cut their insurance bill in half.

While it’s good for the clubs joining, staff want to ensure it doesn’t add a burden to their workload — and thus, on taxpayers. The Village has to monitor the practices of the partner organizations to ensure that known risks are mitigated, and don’t unreasonably increase the municipality’s liability exposure.

“Sometimes we don’t have as much oversight as we should have, because the liability rests with the Village,” said Mayor Suzan Hewat. “And a lot of times the activities maybe don’t coincide with what we would normally allow on municipal property under our own insurance because we don’t have the control over it.”

Council directed staff to prepare a report looking at the issue further.

Making a racquet

There was coincidentally a lot of discussion about the Kaslo Racquet Club this meeting. The club also asked council for support in applying for funding for a $350,000 project to renovate their existing courts, which are situated on Village-owned land.

“The tennis courts are currently in very poor condition, and grant funding may be available to assist with the cost of repairs,” notes a staff report.

The KRC is seeking $10,000 in seed money and in-kind contributions from the Village, as well as a letter of support to accompany their $250,000 application to a Columbia Basin Trust fund program.

“The KRC has between 40-45 members and believes that with improved facilities, additional community participation would be expected,” the report continues. “In addition to resurfacing the existing tennis courts, the proposed project includes the construction of new washroom facilities, which will require ongoing cleaning and upkeep as well as general maintenance.”

While council gave approval in principle for the project, many questions remain, not the least of which is how the club will get the rest of the money it will need for the project.

Council directed staff to work with the KRC and CBT to refine the proposal, identify additional sources of funding and confirm maintenance plans (and costs) for the facilities.

Council, however, rejected a third ask from the racquetball club. The club wanted an exemption from a policy that blocks them from applying for Village recreation funds this fall.

The club got $500 from the Village this spring to buy a tennis ball serving machine. But prices for them are apparently rising dramatically, and the club found after fundraising it was still short money for the purchase. They want to apply for more funding from the Village Recreation Fund, but can’t because they haven’t spent that spring grant yet.

It’s a catch-22 the club was hoping to resolve, but council wouldn’t budge.

“Since limited grant funding is available, the current policy is intended to encourage applicants to find other sources to supplement the Recreation Grant and prevent groups from simply accumulating funds at each intake in order to complete their project,” notes a staff report. “Providing an exception for the KRC would defeat the purpose of this policy.”

Patio permit granted

The Treehouse Restaurant was granted a temporary licence to operate its outdoor patio this summer, despite the fact it’s not accessible to people with mobility issues.

While accessibility is considered an essential feature for food and beverage establishments in Kaslo, many of the Village’s older buildings were constructed prior to regulated accessibility standards, and modification is not considered practicable. That includes the Treehouse, which does not have accessible washrooms inside.

“Since there is not access from the patio to an accessible washroom inside the restaurant, the owners are asking council to extend this exemption to the patio,” says the staff report.

The report notes some businesses in Nelson have the same issue and are granted licences to operate, so it’s not an unknown solution. It also notes the patio, which was actually built for another local restaurant but sold to the Treehouse, might be modifiable – just not right now.

“We appreciate that the summer season is short, and the restaurant has struggled to make the deck work,” staff note. “As it is a hardship for the owners to modify the deck at this stage, and potentially lose several more weeks of the summer season, [a] temporary exception for this year is reasonable. The design of the deck can be modified in the off-season and installed next year with better accessibility.”

Staying in CSLAC

The Village of Kaslo will remain a member of a regional government committee whose value some councillors question. Council voted down a motion by Henry Van Mill to pull the Village out of the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Community Sustainable Living Advisory Committee.

Van Mill and the other councillors heard an RDCK delegation at the June 28 council meeting, where they were told about the benefits of the committee, which includes research and policy development on issues like food, environmental protection, and watershed management.

But Van Mill said he wasn’t swayed by those arguments.

“I’m not discussing the merits of this committee, only the way it is financed,” he said. “Why are the residents of Kaslo and Silverton paying extra tax to support this committee that benefits all the RDCK, every one in the RDCK, whether you pay into it or not.”

Van Mill said he didn’t believe Kaslo’s withdrawal would cause the end of the committee, and felt all members of the RDCK should pay to support its work. He also noted the Village could save about $5,700 annually in fees to the committee.

But the mayor and other councillors were willing to stick with CSLAC, even if it was hard to pin down direct benefits to the community.

“I have some sympathy for what Councillor Van Mill is saying,” said Councillor Rob Lang. “But with the presentation we received from [RDCK general manager of development and community sustainability] Sangita Sudan, I think the service is actually functioning rather well, and they’re doing a good job of leveraging what money they do have to get some grants and programs going.”

The motion to leave CSLAC was defeated 3-2. Councillor Kellie Knoll voted with Van Mill on the motion.