Kaslo council on Jan. 24 dealt with land development, a new library proposal, RCMP staffing, and more. File photo

Kaslo council on Jan. 24 dealt with land development, a new library proposal, RCMP staffing, and more. File photo

Kaslo council roundup: Planning for Kaslo South lands moves ahead

All the news from the Jan. 24 council meeting

by John Boivin,

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,Valley Voice

The Village of Kaslo is moving forward with planning for residential development on about 23 acres of village-owned land – though staff anticipate the project will be “challenging.”

The municipal lands in question are located south of the Kaslo River and were identified in the Kaslo Lands Investment Attraction Program report as Area 8 (14 acres near Oak Avenue) and Area 9 (nine acres fronting on Balfour Avenue). Both areas have quality developable land – but with one big flaw. Expansion of the municipal sewer system to this side of the river is not feasible, so development will have to be serviced by on-site sewer systems.

Road access will also be challenging. The Kaslo Housing Society holds a long-term lease on a small parcel within Area 8, and has found the costs of building road access prohibitive to an affordable housing development here.

Both Areas 8 and 9 require extensive planning before sod is broken on any new development. That’s where the provincial Rural Residents Attraction Pilot Project comes in. The project fund has $250,000 set aside for land development – though the pot is shared between Kaslo, New Denver, Slocan, Silverton, and Regional District of Central Kootenay Areas D and H.

“For Kaslo, this is an excellent opportunity to obtain professional services in land development feasibility, planning and engineering, and how to market this opportunity to potential investors once we are ready…,” wrote the village’s CAO Ian Dunlop. “We have already seen the surge in real estate that the post-pandemic new world is bringing to our quiet corner of the province.”

The work will include an environmental overview, planning and zoning report, market study and valuation report. But CTQ, the consultants for the Kaslo Lands Investment project, said the village didn’t have to get knee-deep in the actual development.

“The municipality should leave the subdivision and servicing, with conditions, to the buyer/developer…,” said a consultant’s report. “The property can be put on the market with the subdivision plan provided … subject to conditions, and with the implied understanding that the village will support the buyer/developer to achieve the subject’s highest and best use.”

The planning work is expected to cost about $50,000, and take about two years.

Library presentation

A delegation from the Kaslo and District Public Library board came to the Jan. 24 meeting to ask the village for help in moving forward on the planned $4.75-million library building for the community.

The board told council it’s determined that the best bet for funding lies with the federal Green and Inclusive Building Program (GIBP). The program’s goal is to ensure new public buildings are energy friendly, climate-change resistant and designed to serve the widest possible section of the community.

They can apply for 60 per cent of the cost – about $2.61 million – leaving them to raise the remaining $1.74 million.

The board says its estimates show that if they win all the grants they’re seeking, they’re still about $450,000 short of the money they need to complete the project. But they feel confident they can meet this, given the enormous community support shown so far – nearly $600,000 has been raised, used to buy the property, repay a village reserve loan, and get the initial design work completed.

The group asked the village to be the sponsor of the grant to the GIBP, as the program requires the building owner to apply for the grant. (By provincial legislation, the library board isn’t allowed to own property.)

The delegation also asked the village to put up $50,000 in seed money that can be used to show the funders there’s serious money behind the proposal. That would match a similar donation from the RDCK.

Council directed staff to look into the matter further with the library board and report to council at its February meeting.

RCMP nix boosting staff

The Village of Kaslo didn’t get far with a request to the RCMP to either add an officer to the Kaslo detachment, or take Balfour out of the detachment’s coverage area.

Council reps met with RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald and other Mountie brass at the Union of BC Municipalities convention last fall to make the request. It seems McDonald said right off the bat it wasn’t going to happen.

“We advised during the meeting that the Kaslo detachment’s workload does not support an increase in establishment,” he wrote to Mayor Suzan Hewat. Later in the correspondence he said that local detachment officers have since met with her to reaffirm they were staffed sufficiently, and “a formal review will not be considered at this time.”

“The establishment continues to be sufficient based on operational needs with the use of Nelson Provincial RCMP resources as and when required,” McDonald added, saying the local detachment can call for extra hands during summer peaks and special events.

Employment benefits

Councillors voted to have themselves included in the village’s insurance, extended health and dental plans.

Council approved amending the council remuneration bylaw to allow elected officials to be covered under the municipal benefits package.

“The practice of providing benefits coverage for elected officials is becoming increasingly common and is popular as a means of encouraging diverse representation on council and rewarding elected officials for their service,” notes a report to council. “Village of Kaslo has not historically provided benefits coverage to council members at the cost of the municipality but, following adoption of Bylaw 1284, is able to do so.”

It will cost $12,000 to add four of the five council members to the benefits package, though staff couldn’t say during the meeting what the impact of the benefit would have on local taxes.

In other remuneration news at the meeting, councillors made final adoption to tweaks in the councillor pay bylaw to allow travelling councillors to attend meetings electronically without a dock in pay.

Kaslo River bank remediation

A project to reinforce the Kaslo River riverbank took another step forward.

Council approved spending just under $50,000 to purchase materials – poly bags, industrial landscape fabric and a kind of mesh designed to resist erosion. The specialty materials will be ordered from a national supplier, while most of the larger rock, gravel, and fill can be supplied by the village’s own gravel pit.

Work on phase one of the project – which focuses on two sections of the riverbank – will begin this spring. The total cost of this phase is just over $320,000.

Family Forest Fun

The village is again backing an annual family friendly event held at the aerodrome lands in February. The Winter in the Forest Festival has been held for about a decade (with a pandemic break) “in a large clearing in a beautiful, wooded valley at the very edge of the municipality,” says a staff report.

Council has agreed to apply for a $1,500 grant from BC Recreation and Parks to support the event. It’s also provided in-kind assistance by clearing snow off the festival grounds.

The event takes place Feb. 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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