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Kaslo council roundup: Smaller Jazz Fest a success

All the news from the Nov. 8 council meeting
Kaslo’s new council. Front: Councillor Molly Leathwood, Councillor Erika Bird. Back: Councillor Rob Lang, Mayor Suzan Hewat, Councillor Matthew Brown. Photo: John Boivin

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

A new council term, new meeting procedures, and new municipal website added up to a fresh start – with a software glitch or two – on Nov. 8 for Kaslo Village council after the election. The mayor, two new councillors and two incumbents had plenty to tackle on their first meeting of municipal business.

Smooth Jazz Fest

Chief Administrative Officer Ian Dunlop reported meeting with the organizers of this year’s Kaslo Jazz Fest and emergency and law enforcement officials, and said everyone agreed the event was a success.

The only problems reported on the weekend were with a campground on South Beach, which was run by a third party as a fundraiser. Otherwise, everyone is “on the same page” when it comes to keeping the festival at the much smaller size it was this year, he said.

“Everyone agreed the size was right,” Dunlop told council. “We don’t want to be going back to how it was three years ago, when it was a much bigger event. There are diminishing returns for doing that.”

Talks on the arrangements for next year’s event will happen in the spring, he added.

A Ave complete

One of the biggest infrastructure projects the Village undertook this year is complete. Dunlop says the new waterline under A Avenue was connected to the system, pressure-tested and backfilled under the street earlier this month. A touch of paving work will still need to be completed in the spring, but otherwise the job is done.

The $800,000 project to replace the nearly century-old pipe was fully funded by the Village, as grants were unavailable for this kind of maintenance-type job. The waterline had deteriorated to the point where 15 per cent of the village’s water was lost through the stretch of pipe, the CAO told council. Dunlop said crews also uncovered issues with an aging pressure control valve, which will also have to be replaced in the future.

Rec grant reconsidered

A local organization is going to get a Fall Recreation Grant after all.

North Kootenay Lake Community Services (now known as Kaslo Community Services) were denied a $500 grant earlier this year for their Nobody’s Perfect program, even though the program had been funded by the Village in the past. This year’s grant committee felt the program “was educational in nature and did not involve recreation.”

But the non-profit group appealed the decision to council.

“They are now faced with an unexpected shortfall, compromising their ability to deliver their valuable community program as planned,” a report to council stated. Since the majority of the committee was supportive of council reconsidering the decision, and there was enough money in the Fall Rec Grant fund to cover the project, council voted to support the project after all.

The program, designed for parents and caregivers of young children, is an opportunity “to learn about child development, safety, health and behaviour, and to share questions, concerns and ideas about parenting,” the KCS says.

Election costs

The final numbers are in for the cost of the Oct. 15 municipal elections. Village Corporate Officer Catherine Allaway, who acted as the election returning officer, reported that delivering the election cost approximately $11,000. That was to pay for hall rental, supplies, advertising, training materials and staff time.

Not all of that will come out of local taxpayers’ pockets. The Village will bill the RDCK and School District 8 over $3,700 in expenses for running their local elections for them.

That is “significantly reducing the cost impact on the Village,” she told council.

The one downbeat in her report was it took a long time for staff to count the ballots after polls closed on Saturday night at 8 p.m. Results weren’t ready until about 2 a.m.

“In future, when there are multiple races, it is recommended to bring in additional counting staff and conduct the count at City Hall,” Allaway said. “This will permit simultaneous counting of each race and quicker results for all involved.”

Kaslo voters cast a total of 549 ballots, including 147 at the advance poll, 14 via mail ballot and 388 on general voting day.

Bell lease review

The public is going to get a chance to weigh in on a lease agreement for a radio tower owned by Bell Media. Since 2009, the Village has leased land at the community-owned golf course for Bell to run a low-power FM transmitter. The lease on that expires in December, and a new agreement has been reached with the telecom giant.

The five-year deal includes a hefty rent increase (from $600 to $900 annually, with annual inflationary adjustments). That will generate just under $4,700 for the Village over the life of the lease, which can be extended another five years if both parties agree.

However, any lease agreement the Village enters has to go through a public review before being finalized. Interested members of the public are invited to go to City Hall to review the details of the agreement, and submit comments by Dec. 6. It can also be viewed on the Village website.