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Kaslo council roundup: Neighbours object to setback variance application

All the news from the March 28 meeting
Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

Kaslo council dealt with three property development applications at its March 28 meeting, approving two and sending a third back to staff for more study.

The problematic property was the enigmatically named ‘Parcel Z’, located just off B Avenue. Legally one piece of land, the parcel is actually two odd-shaped lots separated by a third in the middle. It’s part of a historic railroad right-of-way, and was chopped up by a previous subdivision in 1976.

The smaller of the two pieces of land is just big enough for a single-family dwelling, and an engineering report said even that should be kept under 2,000 square feet in area. Village building rules would have to be seriously relaxed to allow any house to be built on the narrow lot. The building would have to be much closer to the road – the setback would have to be changed from the normal 7.5 metres to just one metre away from the property’s edge.

And that’s where neighbours raised concerns. Council received a couple of letters and heard from five neighbours who came to plead with council not to approve the variance.

“You’d be setting a precedent for any other property in this community to say, ‘if they can only be one metre, why can’t we be only one metre?’” said one man. “Having houses right on the road is not the Kaslo I’ve come to know, and I think it would be harmful having houses that close.”

Road safety was another concern.

“The path that school kids use that runs below the hospital feeds onto the street at the corner of B Avenue and Cross Street and the children walk down B Avenue to get to the school,” wrote another neighbour. “In winter the snow plow pushes the snow from that corner up to and over the bank where the proposed building site is.”

The neighbours also raised concerns about a loss of privacy (any building would overlook the lands below) and danger from disturbing the steep slope. (A geotechnical study recommended the slope be inspected before approving any development).

A staff report to council noted that providing new residential lots is part of the official community plan, “and enables the land to be used to its highest potential.” However, staff said they had heard the public concerns, and asked council to refer the application to its next meeting. Staff will review the concerns raised and include more information received from the applicant for council to consider.

Baseball insurance

The Kaslo Baseball Association didn’t get to first base with its request to be placed under the Village’s municipal insurance policy this year – but the decision by staff is being reviewed.

The baseball group was able to join the Village’s insurance last year under a trial program, and asked to be allowed to join the program again this year. Municipal insurance is far cheaper than commercial insurance, but comes with specific demands for liability reasons.

A staff report recommended against giving them municipal coverage.

“The Kaslo Baseball Association does not meet the criteria established by the policy,” says a staff report. “As they have not demonstrated compliance with the practices, procedures and policies of the Village, and they collect sensitive personal information (such as age) for their participants.”

The association also asked to enter into a Service Provider Agreement with the Village, which would allow them to use the ball diamonds for regular events at no charge. They also asked for permission to put advertising up on the grounds to help fundraise. While the service agreement should go ahead, staff said more work had to be done on the sponsorship idea.

“Staff can work with the Kaslo Baseball Association to develop a more robust proposal regarding temporary advertising signage for Council’s consideration,” a staff report said.

There is one more at-bat for the association, however, as Councillor Matthew Brown suggested the insurance issue be sent back for more discussion between staff and the baseball association. The rest of council agreed and the motion was referred to a council meeting in April.

Spring rec grants

The Village has issued its latest round of recreation grants to local community groups. Eight groups will be getting $500 each. That includes the Baseball Association, Disc Golf Club, Raquet Club and Library. Three other groups will receive $250 – J.V. Humphries’ Outdoor Education Program, Kaslo Youth Council and Kaslo Loggerhead Sports.

Usually, the village gives out $10,000 to local groups – half in the spring and half in the fall. This year however, with leftover funds from years past, more than $14,000 is available.

Purchasing plan

The Village needs a new riding lawnmower. That’s not so unusual by itself – but the way council is doing it this time is worth noting.

They’re using the power of group purchasing in the hope of reducing the cost to taxpayers.

Last year, staff told council about the Canoe Procurement Group, a municipal purchasing program. About 5,000 villages and cities across the country have pooled their resources to use their purchasing power to get discounts on items local governments need to operate.

“The Village signed up to Canoe last year, which is where municipalities get together and bulk-buy, and have different kinds of purchasing arrangements to possibly get discounts,” said CAO Ian Dunlop. “We thought this would be a good one to try.”

Council approved spending up to $16,000 for the new machine.