Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo Village Hall. File photo

Kaslo council: Work on the bridge, sewer expansion

A roundup of news from the May 11 meeting

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative, Valley Voice

CAO Ian Dunlop reported to Village council on May 11 that construction on the Kaslo River Bridge replacement has begun and will continue to September 10. Work will continue six days a week, with reduced activity on long weekends. The project will see a temporary bridge put up in June, which will have one-lane alternating traffic and traffic control.

Pedestrian access to part of the river trail will be blocked off during construction and there’ll be no foot traffic across the bridge during active construction periods.

Council’s plans to piggyback a highway crossing for future sewer expansion while the bridge is being replaced are not going as smoothly as hoped. The Village applied for a grant to cover the cost of the project, but the grant hasn’t come through yet.

“So here we are with an opportunity to get the work done for less than half the cost, but we don’t have grant funding to cover it,” Dunlop told council.

So staff recommended that council go ahead and commit to the sewer crossing, with the Village paying for it out of the sewer capital reserve fund.

“It’s an opportunity to get work done now instead of ripping up pavement in three years’ time when the sewer project moves forward,” added Dunlop, saying the project was estimated to cost $47,000 if done during the bridge replacement – a fraction of the estimated cost.

After some debate, council approved spending the money.

“I think it’s a great opportunity and we should come up with the money to commit,” said Councillor Kellie Knoll, voting for spending the money now. “The project is essential for how we’ll expand in this town.”

Once the sewer is extended in a few years, there will be a parcel tax to replace the reserves the Village spends now.

Kaslo River Dike

The work plan for the Kaslo River Dike project is before the Department of Fisheries. Dunlop says he’s hoping the Village will be granted a permit through a letter of compliance, and have the project avoid the formal review process.

“They’re mainly concerned about how much of the riparian area will be impacted by the construction,” said Dunlop. “In fact, because of erosion there, we have lost a lot of riparian habitat, so we hope we can move forward to preserve what we have left.”

Pride plan

given green light

Council approved a request by Kaslo’s local Pride Committee to close 4th Street between A Avenue and Front Street to allow for the painting of a rainbow flag on Friday, June 4.

Staff will be asked to clean the street well (organizers think last year’s rainbow crosswalk didn’t adhere well because of a dirty painting surface). Volunteers painting the crosswalk that evening will be supplied with high-vis vests by the Village.

Council also approved reading the official Pride proclamation and flying the Pride flag over city hall for the month the next day, Saturday June 5. That motion was opposed by Councillor Henry van Mill, who suggested the flag be flown from the Kemball building or some other civic property.

Tree plan needs time

Council agreed to extending the Tree Planting Plan until mid-June of this year.

Contractor Patricia Leier says she needs the extra time to establish a prioritized list of locations for new tree plantings, and a list of species for specific locations to offset the deficit created in relation to tree removals. “Tree plantings will be calculated using the tree policy information of two trees for every one removed,” Leier reported to council.

The Village crew is also going to get technical instruction on the planting, care and maintenance of young trees, and how to protect them from wildlife.

Council granted the four-week extension, noting it was not going to cost any more money.

Kemp Creek dam repairs

Council received a proposal from Kerr Wood Leidal Associates and approved spending $25,000 on engineering and construction management for the Kemp Creek dam, the reservoir for the Village’s water supply that was damaged in heavy thunderstorms last May.

Dunlop says they’re still working on the scope of the engineering that has to be done this season. They’re also waiting to hear back from the insurer about covering the cost of the project, though the Village has been told that engineering costs will be covered as part of the project management.

The Village put out tenders on the job last year, but all the bids came in over budget. This year, Dunlop says, they’ve broken up the job into smaller components. The main ones, the concrete repairs, would be the largest, but other jobs may be able to be farmed out to small contractors or even done in-house.

“We feel confident this is the right approach,” he told council.

New trailhead

Council approved a proposal by Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trails Society to re-locate the True Blue Trail Network trailhead sign and to develop a parking area at the southwest corner of Kaslo West Road and Bjerkness Road. They’ll also close the parking area near the runway.

Budget bylaw adopted

Council passed, pretty well without comment, its financial plan for this year and projections forward to 2026.

This year’s budget had called for a four per cent increase in taxes (after last years’ zero per cent increase, that works out to the inflation rate over two years) and a new parcel tax to raise funds for sewer maintenance.

But the residential rate dropped slightly after the final totals were calculated.

“On the Village portion of residential taxes, the tax rates went down by 9.16 per cent,” says Dunlop. “Average property value assessments went up by 11.4 per cent from 2020 to 2021, so a homeowner who saw their assessment go up by the average will see a 1.8 per cent net increase in the Village portion of taxes.”

Tax rates are based on a rate per $1,000 of assessed value. The overall residential tax rate, once the regional district, hospital, school and police taxes was added, is actually going down by four per cent – but other factors affect that.

“Unfortunately, there will be a jump in industrial and business rates because the province cut the school tax rate for industrial and business by half last year but did not provide that relief again this year,” says Dunlop.

Both the five-year financial plan, tax rate bylaw, and parcel tax bylaws for water and sewer were all affirmed.

You have to be a little more on the ball to get your taxes paid this year. The province delayed the penalty date to Oct. 1 last year but it is back to the normal date this year, July 2.

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