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Kaslo council roundup: Langham garden project request approved

All the news from the Sept. 6 council meeting
Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

Kaslo village council will alter the zoning rules to allow the people building a memorial garden at the historic Langham building to build a fence twice as high as current regulations allow.

Council approved issuing a Development Variance Permit to the Langham Cultural Society to build a six-foot fence around the property, instead of a three-foot fence as is the limit under the zoning bylaw. The change will allow the society to “create a Japanese-style garden in recognition of the Japanese internment in Kaslo during WWII,” council was told at its Sept. 6 meeting.

“The Langham receives many hundreds of Japanese Canadians and related visitors every year and the garden will be yet another draw from that demographic that will enhance economic, social, cultural and heritage benefits for the Langham, Kaslo and area…,” wrote Paul Grace-Campbell, executive director at the Langham.

“The proposed garden also serves to help beautify the community as it will be a pleasing upgrade to what has admittedly become an unattractive and little-utilized garden space.”

The society has engaged noted garden designer Hiro Okusa, who has worked on the garden at the Nikkei Centre in New Denver, for this project.

The height restriction is set to ensure sight lines are maintained for traffic and pedestrian safety. But staff said in this case, the top half of the fence will be metal railing, and the bottom half masonry, in the style of the historic building. That will ensure visibility is safeguarded, and the society will be required under the development permit to ensure it is maintained.

Racquet club improvements

The Kaslo Racquet Club is going to get a $10,000 grant from the Village to improve its facilities.

The club currently has two tennis courts on the Village-owned land it uses, but the “current condition of the courts is very poor, and resurfacing is required,” says a report from staff.

The club plans to apply for around $350,000 in grants from the Columbia Basin Trust Outdoor Active Recreation Grant program, provincial gaming grants and the federal New Horizons for Seniors program, as well as do its own fundraising. But seed funding from council’s Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Community Development Fund will help show local support for the project.

They say they plan some big changes to the facility.

“Given the growing popularity of pickleball, the group is proposing to transform one of the existing tennis courts into four pickleball courts,” says the staff report. “They are also proposing the installation of perimeter fencing and the addition of a storage/washroom building.”

The KRC says it’s hopeful that improved facilities will allow them to hold tournaments and bring additional visitors to Kaslo, particularly in the spring/fall shoulder seasons. Maintenance will continue to be performed by KRC volunteers.

Council approved the grant application.

A Avenue watermain

Work is underway to replace an aging watermain in the village.

The A Avenue watermain project began on Sept. 12, after a week of prep work. The main part of the $671,000 project should take about six weeks to complete, with the cleanup and finishing work all over by Halloween. The contractor is Brenton Industries.

The work will require one lane of A Avenue to be closed for the construction period.

Later in the meeting, council also approved a relaxation of the noise bylaw to allow the contractor to work until 7 p.m. on weekdays – one hour longer than the bylaw allows – and on Saturdays. But that will only happen if necessary to keep the project to its planned schedule, staff said.

Water restrictions tough to enforce

The Village can’t really do a lot to stop people from ignoring water restrictions, council heard. That news came after a letter from a citizen complaining about their neighbours watering their lawns throughout the summer.

“It is less than fair when we all pay the same rate while a few abuse the privilege,” wrote resident Gillian Froese. “Sprinklers being freely used during hours, and for hours, when they shouldn’t be should not be ignored, it’s at the very least annoying.”

Froese asked if the Village could install water meters and bill people based on consumption.

But chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop said it wouldn’t be an economic move, as the cost of installation and maintenance would eliminate any financial gains the Village would make. (However, the new OCP does suggest new commercial developments should be metered, he noted.)

Otherwise, Dunlop admitted the town can’t do much about green-lawned scofflaws.

“Right now ,we just have a policy for watering guidelines – it’s not a bylaw – so if someone doesn’t follow the guidelines … there’s nothing we can do about it if they don’t comply,” he says. “We would like to look at coming up with a bylaw for water guidelines that would allow ticketing.”

Dunlop said staff would look to council for direction on the matter in the coming months.

Procedures bylaw passed

Council gave third reading to the updated procedures bylaw, which governs how the legislative body’s business is conducted.

The procedures bylaw sets rules on things like meeting start times, rules of order, and use of video conferencing.

Two changes in the updated bylaw that affect the public include: setting the deadline for submissions to council meetings from Wednesday noon to Tuesday noon, to give staff more time to gather information on an issue; and moving public question period up near the beginning of the agenda, to allow citizens to comment before council debates new business and late items.

The bylaw also stipulates that council adopt, in accordance with provincial law, a code of conduct for councillors.

The bylaw is to be adopted at the September meeting of council.