Kaslo council re-inserted itself into the vaccine mandate debate on July 26 with a motion to send a letter to higher levels of government calling on vaccine mandates to be lifted for health care workers.
The debate began when Councillor Kellie Knoll, who’s voiced opposition to public health measures since the beginning of the pandemic, asked council to reconsider a motion from the village’s Health Care Select Committee.
That committee defeated a motion on July 8 to send a letter to the provincial health minister and Interior Health officials “requesting that vaccine mandates be lifted to address the critical situation in health care and medical support services.”
Knoll said no one could deny the health care system is under strain, and he said with 5,000 qualified workers not allowed to work because of the mandates, the system needed to adjust. He also warned councillors that how they voted on this might come back at them at the polls.
“The elections are coming up in two months, and how you vote on this will basically show the general public at large whether you stand for an inclusive, co-operative community, or whether you stand for the mandates of division, fear and a seclusion-future system,” he told council.
The motion passed, but not all councillors were on board. Councillor Rob Lang reiterated his past feelings on weighing in on public health policy.
“I am totally unqualified to make that decision,” he said. “I’m not a healthcare professional and I trust the people in charge to make the right decisions and I cannot support the motion.”
But Councillors Henry Van Mill and Molly Leathwood supported the motion, so Mayor Suzan Hewat, who sits on the health committee, didn’t have to make her vote known.
Knoll also removed a clause in the original motion that included the media in the letter’s distribution.
“The media doesn’t have to be involved,” he said.
Gritty deal with YRB
The village moved to formalize its gentleman’s agreement with road maintenance company Yellowhead Road and Bridge to allow extraction and crushing at the municipal gravel pit.
The village will sell the material to YRB for $3 a cubic metre, in exchange for winter sand for municipal use.
That’s a good rate for winter sand for the road contractor, as the village standard rate is $5 a cubic metre. In return, YRB will provide winter sand for use by the municipality.
“The village and YRB have enjoyed a cooperative and mutually beneficial working relationship and an informal arrangement for access to the pit for raw materials and winter sand,” notes a report to council. “With the village having renewed its mine permit for the pit last year, a more formal arrangement is needed.”
The “more formal arrangement” also ensures that the village’s obligations under the Mine Permit are met, including that the contractor have a certified mine supervisor overseeing the operations to ensure health and safety.
The motion passed easily.
The village has renewed its participation in a program to cut the number of woodstoves burning in the community.
The Community Wood Smoke Reduction Program aims to improve air quality and reduce health problems attributable to wood-burning stoves in homes. The program provides a financial incentive for residents to replace old, inefficient woodstoves with new, efficient, EPA-certified heating appliances.
Council agreed to add $100 per unit to the existing grants offered by the province and RDCK, up to a total of five stoves. Councillor Van Mill was the only one in opposition.
Just one or two homeowners typically take advantage of the program annually.
Hewat will be the village’s rep on a committee preparing a big party for the SS Moyie.
The historic paddlewheeler will be celebrating its 125th birthday in 2023. The ship, a designated National Historic Site, is owned by the village of Kaslo and operated by the Kootenay Lake Historical Society.
The SS Moyie is the No. 1 tourist attraction in Kaslo and is currently undergoing restoration work.