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Kaslo council roundup: Village to strike its own accessibility committee

All the news from the July 11 meeting
Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

The Village of Kaslo is declining an invitation to join a regional committee dealing with accessibility issues, and will instead set up a group of its own to develop an accessibility plan.

The provincial government passed the Accessible BC Act in 2021 to compel local governments to identify, remove, and prevent barriers to individuals interacting in the community and with government because of a disability.

The first step to implementing the law is to have local governments set up an advisory committee to draw up an accessibility plan for their community and solicit public feedback on it.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay, recognizing that the new requirements will be a burden on small municipalities, offered to strike a regional advisory committee, spreading the burden of complying with the regulations across a wider area.

But Kaslo councillors declined the offer.

Chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop said he was confident the Village could find enough volunteers to sit on the advisory committee.

“It all comes down to best efforts to fill those positions, getting the word out and doing more active recruiting than we’ve done for other committees…,” he told council. “We should try it, and if we fail, we at least have a backup and maybe we’ll join this after all. But it is more of a benefit to Kaslo to try it ourselves.”

Councillors also noted much of the work will have to be done by local municipal staff anyway, and there will be a cost as well. The marginal benefit of a regional committee would be outweighed by local knowledge.

“Who is going to know on the ground what is better for accessibility for our community?” asked Mayor Suzan Hewat rhetorically.

The Village will have to form a committee consisting of councillors, at least five members of the public with disability or who represent people with disability, two members of the general public and a person of Indigenous ancestry.

The group will have to form soon and hit the ground running: they have to have a draft plan ready for public review and feedback by September.

Kaslo joins New Denver in deciding to go on its own in developing an accessibility advisory committee. Slocan, Nakusp, and Silverton have all said they’ll join the RDCK’s regional group.

Other business

Summer can see the load on Village councils lighten, as the spring work of passing budgets fades into the past and infrastructure and construction work is well underway. Such was the case at this meeting, with only a few other motions passing.

Council approved a Temporary Use Permit for the South Beach, to allow the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Society and Kaslo Riding Club to operate a temporary campground during Jazz Fest in August. The groups will put up a $5,000 surety to ensure taxpayers aren’t on the hook for any cleanup after the event. They also have to have insurance that protects the Village from any liability.

Council approved lease changes to the Kaslo Aerodrome hangar that currently houses Stellar Heliskiing and High Terrain Helicopters. High Terrain wanted out of its lease, and Stellar will become the sole lessee. Stellar will pay just over $3,300 for the next three years the lease is in effect. That’s no change in revenue for the Village.

Councillor Rob Lang was appointed the Village’s alternate representative to the Municipal Insurance Association of BC. The MIABC provides group insurance for local governments across the province.