Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo council roundup: Kudos to local heroes

All the news from the Dec. 13 council meeting

Kaslo council has recognized the heroics of four men who helped avert a community disaster early in December.

“It is much appreciated and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts,” said Mayor Suzan Hewat at the meeting’s opening on Dec. 13.

On Dec. 5, local electrician Steve Jaksitz was walking up Front Street when he saw a man breaking the door of the Home Hardware with an axe, and setting a jerry can of gasoline on fire. He confronted the man and struggled with him, knocking the axe away. Three other men – Kaslo Hotel owner Jason Remple, employee Ivo Gmur and contractor Shawn Handley then arrived with fire extinguishers and put out the fire that had started in the building.

“The efforts of Steve Jaksitz and the other men who joined him avoided what could have been a disaster for our community,” said Hewat.

The suspect fled on foot and was later arrested by police. He has been remanded to a treatment centre while he awaits trial.

A Ave. complete

Village staff are calling a wrap on the A Avenue watermain project, and say they are already seeing the benefits of replacing the nearly 100-year-old water pipe.

“Overnight water flow rates from the water treatment plant are down approximately 20 per cent since the old A Avenue watermain was taken out of service,” chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop told council.

Council heard that the A Avenue watermain project came in about 7.7 per cent over budget, which he said was reasonable, “as one would expect a 10-to-15 per cent contingency going into a major construction project.”

Work delays this fall meant that the last bit of paving still has to be done in the spring. Then planning will begin on replacing other aging parts of the water system.

Seeing the light

Council was updated on plans to replace the Village’s old sodium-light streetlamps with energy-efficient, reduced-light-pollution LEDs, a project that started in 2015.

The project has been moving along in fits and starts, as the bulbs are expensive to replace, and the streetlights come under an unusual arrangement of jurisdictions.

“Streetlights on electrical power poles are owned by the Village, but FortisBC owns the poles, controls what goes on them and who is able to work around them,” notes a staff report. The report says FortisBC informed staff that the lights were the Village’s, “but we would have to go through them to have them replaced.”

That turned out to be an expensive proposition, and the Village decided to work incrementally, changing a few bulbs at a time or as they burn out. The report says since 2015, 60 per cent of all streetlights in the village have been converted to LED. Of the 163 streetlights it owns, just 66 sodium lights are left to be converted to LED.

The Village hopes to have those done in the next two years. When complete, the turnover will save the Village about 60 per cent on its power bill for street lighting, a savings of about $13,000 annually.

Fire inspections to resume

After a pandemic-caused hiatus, the Village is going to get back to doing proper fire inspections of local businesses and new developments, thanks to a deal with the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

The Village and Regional District already work together to provide fire services to the community and region, sharing costs for equipment and staff. But until 2019, the Village had contracted out its fire inspection services, with an independent contractor travelling to town periodically.

“We weren’t really satisfied with how fire inspections were previously done,” said Dunlop. “There was no follow-up. If there were any deficiencies, safety concerns, there was nothing done about that.”

The new contract will see RDCK staff be responsible for the inspections, along with Kaslo’s fire chief, whose salary is covered by the regional district. The fire chief will be able to follow up on any issues raised by the inspection to ensure compliance.

The contract is capped at $5,000 annually, though staff estimate the true cost will be around $3,500 – about half the cost paid out for inspections in 2020, the last time the private contractor did an inspection tour.

Winter in the Forest returns

Speaking of pandemic-interrupted events, the Winter in the Forest Festival is returning this February.

The two-decade old event raises funds for the Kaslo Housing Society and promotes other organizations. Council approved the festival using the Kaslo Aerodrome lands to hold the event. (Councillor Bird, who sits on the Housing Society board, declared a conflict and did not take part in the discussion).

The Village has supported the event by providing a loader to push snow around for about 40 hours to prepare the site, and the society asked for the same consideration this year.

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