Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo council roundup: Anti-vaccine mandate petition prompts council letter to provincial health office

All the news from the Feb. 8 meeting

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

A petition presented to Kaslo council in late January by people opposed to vaccine and other public health mandates did not meet the required standards, staff told councillors, but the information is still meaningful.

“Many of the entries were illegible or incomplete and some duplicate entries were found,” a staff report by corporate officer Catherine Allaway says.

Petitions presented to council must “legibly include the subject matter, date of the petition and the name, post office box and civic address of each petitioner,” according to the Village’s Council Procedure Bylaw.

Of the 350 names on the petition, staff could only confirm 114 to 127 of the signatures came from individuals that reside within the village limits. Another 50 might qualify, but the information was incomplete, and many signers lived outside village limits.

Despite its flaws, “the information collected by Beyond the Divide is meaningful despite the fact it does not meet the standards set out in the Procedure Bylaw,” the report says. “Clearly there are many residents on either side of this issue, so there is limited benefit to further refining the village’s understanding of public opinion.”

The report notes that since receiving the petition, the village has received correspondence from residents on both sides of the issue.

Staff recommended writing a letter to the provincial health officer, and not conducting a survey or a referendum on the issue.

“The Village of Kaslo is bound by provincial laws and will continue to follow the recommendations of the Provincial Health Officer,” the report concludes, and also notes it’s not always a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you (or provides you with health services).

“Given the other requests that the village is making of the provincial government relating to community health (requests for additional primary care beds, requests for improved ambulance service), it is recommended that any communications relating to the COVID-19 restrictions take a collaborative rather than antagonistic approach,” the report says.

Council did decide to send a letter with that collaborative tone. They passed a motion to send a letter to the provincial health officer requesting “an end to COVID-19 related mandates if other strategies for population safety can be found.”

One councillor voted against the motion.

“The provincial government is obviously considering options for eliminating mandates, and it’s going to happen in British Columbia in the near future. I don’t see the benefit to writing a letter that basically says, ‘OK guys, do your job,’” said Rob Lang. “I think we should just step away from this. It’s no-win.”

Staff will begin drafting a letter for council to approve.

Response on Zincton

The village has some questions about the Zincton ski resort proposal it would like to see answered before it approves the project.

Councillors reviewed information from staff in anticipation of forwarding its official response on the project to the province by mid-month.

Zincton is a proposed year-round ski, hiking and biking resort set about 30 kilometres west of Kaslo. The proponents are asking for tenure on 5,000 hectares of land, saying their project will bring millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to the local economy. It’s now undergoing the second stage of a three-stage review process overseen by the Mountain Resorts Branch.

Council’s feedback to the province will be that they see how the resort could be a big economic driver to the region. But they say that could also mean a wide variety of economic, social, and environmental consequences to the region.

They will ask several questions on a number of subjects, including land use, impacts on employment, housing and cost of living, and on demographic changes the resort may create.

The council also wants the messaging about the project to be clearer, and wants to know what will happen if Zincton is sold to other owners.

The village will also ask about phasing options. Stating that “it is impossible to predict all of the changes that it will bring,” they will ask if the province would consider giving staggered approval to Zincton on a “phase-by-phase basis,” to ensure that the project proceeds in a manner that minimizes negative impacts on the surrounding area.

It’s good to ask these questions now, staff said.

“This information will be used by MRB to get feedback from the proponent about how these effects could be mitigated,” notes the report. “Forwarding concerns to MRB now will pass the cost of obtaining answers to these questions on to the province.”

The Mountain Resorts Branch has indicated there will be significant consultation and input opportunities during the next phase, the Master Plan Review Process, the report adds.

Fees and charges

Costs for getting your development project approved are going up in the village.

Council approved amendments to its fees and charges bylaw for the new year, and it’s developers that will be taking a hit.

Subdividing a property will see new fees, with preliminary reviews doubling from $100 to $200 per lot, and a new $200 charge for a second review if amendments are made after the first. Lot or internal boundary changes will also go up, from $150 to $200.

But the bite is really on development charges. Projects that require changes to the official community plan will need a $1,000 application fee, up from $500; and an application to amend the land use bylaw will also go up by the same amount. There is a discount, though. If you need, you can apply for both for $1,500.

“We’re looking for cost recovery,” said corporate officer Catherine Allaway. “We know there’s a fair bit of development that’s going to be happening in Kaslo in the near future, and it’s important that the cost of that development be paid for by the proponent rather than be paid for by the taxpayer.”

Council is also increasing the cost of renting a portapotty locally. It’s going to ask for a $500 damage deposit to rent the first one – double the old rate – and $200 for each additional outhouse.

“The damage deposit has been increased because, if we don’t get them back clean, that’s a specific cost on the village to incur, and it’s important that cost is passed on to the individuals that are benefitting from that service,” she said.

Water plant upgrades

The Village is going ahead with an application for funding to pay for upgrades to the community’s water treatment plant. It’s asking the Invest Canada Infrastructure Program for about $750,000 to help pay for the project.

“Application to the ICIP grant program enables the village to complete a $1-million-plus project for a financial commitment of $271,806,” a report to council states.

The village’s portion will be paid for through its $300,000 water reserve and from the RDCK, which is being asked to cover about $37,000 of the cost from the McDonald Creek water system reserve.

This project would see the replacement of two valve trains, installation of electrical components and dual UV systems – the backup ensures continued service if there are maintenance or equipment failures.

“Interior Health requires the village to install UV treatment by 2025 to maintain regulatory compliance, so staff feels this application has a good chance of success,” says a report to council.

Staff don’t expect to hear back on their application for about a year, so work won’t begin until April 2023 at the earliest.

Kaslo Housing gets land

It’s never over until the paperwork is complete.

Council has passed the necessary bylaws to officially end a long-term lease for the Kaslo Housing Society on a property on Highway 31, and to sell them the lot behind the Kemball Building on A Avenue for $10. The site will see the construction of the society’s new 10-unit affordable housing project in the village’s downtown.

Work was to begin on the project this month, but ground-breaking will now be delayed until April, CAO Ian Dunlop told council.