Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo council roundup: Budgets, projects and FireSmarting

All the news from the Village’s April 25 meeting

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

A presentation on April 25 by chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop on the budget gave a glimpse of the full tax bill facing residents of Kaslo this year.

When property tax bills come in the mail, residents will see that only about a third of the bill – 36 per cent – is for the Village government.

The owner of a representative house assessed at $408,000 will pay $2,621 in taxes this year: $954 to the Village (36 per cent), $822 to the Regional District of Central Kootenay (31 per cent), $670 to the province for schools (26 per cent), $75 to the hospital board (three per cent), and $100 for the Municipal Insurance Agency of BC and BC Assessment (four per cent).

While the Village tax rate is going up about 5 per cent this year, the increase from the RDCK is 10.5 per cent, school 7.6 per cent, hospital seven per cent, and police five per cent.

Council gave first two readings for its 2022 tax rate bylaw and five-year financial plan bylaw at a meeting on May 3, with the final adoption expected at the regular May council meeting. Tax bills will be sent out by early June.

Seniors in charge

Council is going to let the local seniors organization manage renovations to the Village-owned Seniors’ Hall.

The Village will forward about $74,000 in funds to replace the windows and doors, siding, install a heat pump, and do other improvements to the 4th Avenue historic building.

The organization raised about $90,000 for the improvements, but the Village, which has charitable status and is the landlord, controls the purse strings for the project. That saves the seniors administration costs and other taxes and charges.

“The seniors will be procuring materials, hiring contractors, providing project oversight, maintaining records and preparing required reporting,” the report says.

However, the report also notes that because of inflation, the seniors have scaled back the project. Improvements to lighting and ventilation have been postponed until another $38,000 can be found to complete those works.

Sidewalk service

The Treehouse Restaurant will be able to occupy 25 feet of Front Street in Kaslo with a patio for the next five years – though the decision may prompt a review of how such licences are let out.

Council first approved the Temporary Licence of Occupation for the restaurant in 2021, after public consultation. But to receive a licence to serve alcohol on the patio, the owners need multi-year occupation permission.

“The proposed application complies with the policy requirements,” said a staff report. “As public consultation was held on this matter last year, delays to accommodate further engagement prior to a decision are not recommended.”

The patio will take up about one and a quarter parking spaces, but the owners will have to pay for using two full spaces. The Village will use the rest for a bike rack or decorative planters.

While he was fine with the application, Councillor Henry Van Mill said he was concerned there was no overall council policy governing patio rules, what they look like, their placement, how many there should be and how they interact with public space.

“I’m disappointed. A while ago, I said we needed a policy that fits everybody,” he said. “I don’t think we should approve a patio for five years…

“We should have rules, about the sizes, the willy-nilly parking. Make it all similar,” he continued. “We should make it across the board.”

Staff said they would review the restaurant’s building plans to ensure the patio extended a safe distance into the street. Council approved the Treehouse application, but didn’t follow up to review the policy as a whole in the coming months.

FireSmarting projects

The Village has settled contracts for two FireSmart projects this summer. Councillors voted to hire West Arm Silviculture to complete the manual treatment work up by the aerodrome. That project is worth $12,680.

“They have provided a cost estimate for completing the required work, and the consultants [Cathro Consulting] engaged by the Village believe that the proposal provides good value,” says a report by staff.

About 800 cubic metres of wood will be removed and sold, worth more than $100,000.

“Log prices continue to be high, so some revenue from the harvesting will be realized,” the report adds. “But unlike the treatment that was completed recently on Village land near the aerodrome last winter, the Village must pay stumpage for logging on Crown land. A net surplus of revenue is unlikely.”

In fact, the report estimates a loss of about $28,000 in total when the work is complete, but that loss will be covered by another CBT grant received by the Village for the purpose.

Timber Ridge Contracting will also do mechanical harvesting in a second area at the southeast corner of the village.

“The site was seriously impacted by the windstorms last summer, which resulted in large areas of blowdown, creating a safety and wildfire hazard,” says the report.

However, this project won’t cost the Village any money. Dunlop said the treatment can be completed “at no cost,” in exchange for the blowdown and timber that can be salvaged.

The Village is getting grants from the Columbia Basin Trust to pay for the recent wildfire risk reduction programs around town.

New mural for town

The Chamber of Commerce’s Artscape program is trying to get a new mural painted in town, and council gave the OK to apply for funding.

The project is for a mural to replace one painted on the Kaslo Pharmacy building in 2002 depicting the May Pole dance. It is now “faded badly and is outdated” the group says.

“Although our village is grounded in history, we wish to depict a new, broader vision of our historical village through the creation of this new historic mural,” says a proposal summary.

The request for $20,050 is going to the Community Fund of North Kootenay Lake, with the Village proving its support by putting up $3,500 of that amount.

The painting would be completed by muralist Tyler Toews of Nelson, and if the application is successful, would launch the start of a multi-year project to feature and support local artists.