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Kaslo council roundup: Jazz Fest, SS Moyie and library projects move ahead

All the news from the Feb. 14 meeting
Kaslo’s SS Moyie is the oldest intact passenger sternwheeler in the world. Photo credit:

The Kaslo Jazz Festival received council’s approval-in-principle to hold the music event in 2023 – though many details have still to be settled.

After an in-camera session, council gave approval at its Feb. 14 meeting for the popular music festival to be held again the BC Day long weekend, Aug. 4 to 6. Giving permission for the event now allows the festival to begin advertising and selling tickets.

However, permissions and requests on other issues – from campgrounds and a noise bylaw exemption, to beer gardens and clean-up – will have to wait to council’s March meeting.

“Mitigation strategies have been identified for most concerns raised [from a review of last year’s event] but the matters of access to the boat launch and boat club parking remain outstanding,” noted a report from staff.

Speaking of which, council heard a delegation from boat launch users. Gordon Rempel and Russell Semenoff came to say day-use boaters want public access to the boat launch, the pull-in and turnaround area, and the two parking spots next to the launch on and before the festival weekend.

“This isn’t against Jazz Fest – we want the festival to be successful,” said Rempel. “We want everyone to have fun. We just want this to work, and make it so everyone can come here and enjoy the lake.”

The Jazz Festival also asked for a three-year agreement, but council delayed a decision on that until after a review of this year’s event.

The festival had plans to ask council for permission to increase the festival to four days, to include the holiday Monday. However, that request was withdrawn by the festival just before the council meeting.

SS Moyie funding

The Kootenay Lake Historical Society is gearing up for phase three of the massive renovation of the historic SS Moyie paddlewheeler on the Kaslo shoreline.

“The Kootenay Lake Historical Society has found that they were unable to complete all the rehabilitation work on the SS Moyie last summer as they found more rot in the hand rails and deck supports than expected as well as a need for rehabilitation of other safety features,” says Elizabeth Scarlett, society secretary.

Scarlett says phase three is estimated to cost $260,000, and the society has applied to the Parks Canada cost-sharing program for $130,000. To raise the matching funds, they are writing other grant applications and are asking the Village and Area D for $6,500 each.

Council approved a Community Development Fund application for $6,500 for phase three of the project. The Village provided $10,000 for phase one and $20,000 for phase two through the Community Development Fund, as well.

The project in all its phases includes installing a complete weather envelope to protect the ship, and repairs to the decks, stairs, railings and roof.

“The SS Moyie is Kaslo’s No. 1 tourist attraction and this work is required in order to ensure the integrity of the heritage asset and the safety of visitors to the site,” says a staff report to council.

Library project

Two decisions by council helped move forward the project to build a new library in Kaslo. The big one was to go ahead and apply for a federal grant that would cover 60 per cent of the $4.5-million project.

The application will go to the federal Canada Green and Inclusive Building Fund, which encourages energy-efficient and community inclusive building construction.

While a new library is in the Village’s financial plan, the decision to actually apply for the funds puts the Village in the driver’s seat as the agency responsible to get it done.

“The Village, as owner of the project and the future capital asset, will be taking on the financial risk of the project, including the shortfall if other sources of revenue are not identified,” says a report to council from staff. “There is also the risk of cost overruns due to unexpected conditions and inflation.”

The report also notes the Village will be responsible for running the library if something happens to the library society, and would be unable to sell the property for six years after construction is completed.

“Overall, the risks are manageable,” says the staff report. The projected fundraising shortfall is about $160,000.

“The Village does have tools and financial resources to cover a shortfall or unanticipated costs,” the report notes. “The Village can borrow money on a short-term basis (five years or less) without elector approval. Drawing from capital reserve funds is also permitted for eligible expenditures.”

The second decision by council cleaned up some leftover financial considerations from the project. Should funding fail and the project be cancelled, the Village will reimburse the library society and Columbia Basin Trust for the money those organizations put up to buy the property in the first place. This is set out in an amendment to the Library Reserve Fund Amendment Bylaw, and was given three readings. Adoption is expected at the next council meeting.