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NADB and Chamber visit Jan. 13 Nakusp council meeting

There was a bit of an audience for the Jan. 13 Nakusp council meeting. Two annual reports were given to council; Laurie Page presented for the Nakusp and Area Development Board and Cedra Eichenauer presented for the Chamber of Commerce.

Annual Reports from NADB and Chamber of Commerce

Laurie Page’s Prezi-powered presentation impressively showed not only what free software can do, but also what NADB has done in the past year and where they’re headed. The organization is very proud to have representation of and collaboration between many different sectors of the community on their board, said Page, which has a huge value.

As for projects, NADB’s Business Retention and Expansion survey run by Vivien Berry is now in the action phase, moving on the data gathered by the survey. The Business and Organization Directory is also now up and running, a great resource that makes it easy to find information and services in the region. A Tourism Marketing organization under the leadership of Peter Welkerling is on task to coordinate strategic marketing for the area as well. NADB is interested in the Waste Wood 2 Rural Heat project too, and hopes to be involved with projects that arise.

Like all annual reports, the NADB’s asked and answered the question: why would the Village continue to invest $6,000 a year.

The amount is small change, said Page, but it builds up and is better than asking for money when there’s a large project. Even so, the Chair was pleased that the NADB was able to provide seed funding for projects that serves the double purpose of providing cash as well as showing community support.

But the money isn’t the most important thing the Village gives the NADB, said Page. It’s the responsiveness from the Village and the continued participation of councillors at meetings that is the most valuable.

Councillor Joseph Hughes asked Page if she thought that there was more collaboration over the years, to which she replied that the people at the table are really really good, working together with no egos.

Cedra Eichenauer presented the Chamber’s annual report which focused on an ever-increasing need for the visitor’s centre to be available more to tourists. At the moment, the centre has reduced hours during the winter, but the emails keep coming in.

“Because we’re closed on weekends, we don’t know who we’re missing,” Eichenauer told council. The chamber would like to be open more hours – the intent every year – but their hopes are bigger than their budget.

Roughly 6,000 parties came through the centre last year, and $2 million was spent in Nakusp by overnight visitors. Visitor Centre staff help to get people to stay and explore – and spend their money – said Eichenauer. It helps that both she and Elaine Lindsay have more than one language under their belt too.

“There are a lot of repeat visitors,” Eichenauer told council, “ and they remember us.”

The chamber is requesting an increase of their funding from the Village from $10,000 a year to $15,000 a year for operations at the Visitor’s Centre.

Comptroller’s response about Nakusp wharf

With clear frustration, Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling brought up the Comptroller of Water Rights’ response to the Village’s request to BC Hydro for maintenance of the breakwater and year-round access to the water via the wharf.

“Council subsequently appealed to the Water Comptroller for an interpretation of the initial order. As evident by the letter attached, the Comptroller of Water Rights is not prepared to order BC Hydro to comply with either of these requests by the Village at this time,” read the staff report.

“The CAO and I have had conversations with them and I don’t know if they’re not understanding our communications,” said Hamling about discussions with Hydro and the Comptroller.

The mayor said Hydro is claiming that the marina is protecting the wharf and therefore no breakwater is needed at this point. Hamling pointed out that the marina is therefore taking the beating that the breakwater should be blocking.

“The marina’s going to deteriorate,” she said. “Why should we lose one facility and then have them come in and do it. I’m totally frustrated with this.”

Hamling also said Nakusp was exempted from the seasonal access order initially.

CAO Linda Tynan said there was no indication that the Comptroller was looking at the technical part of the letter the Village sent, and said his decision was his interpretation and does not supersede law.

The ramp will be extended to 420.5 metres, and this will be under water most of the time, although the water may still drop below this level, but the issue may become one of who will be maintaining the ramp in the winter. The letter from the Comptroller indicated that the terms of reference did not require BC Hydro plough and maintain the ramp during winter, and if they have been doing so it has been at the Crown corp’s discretion.

NACFOR shareholder clarity sought

NACFOR is looking to hand out a bunch of money, but a few wrinkles need to ironed out to make it easier in the future.

“We’re talking about the potential for a fairly significant amount of money for the community,” said CAO Tynan, who said she felt awkward in the course of researching NACFOR’s profit disbursement.

She said it felt awkward because council hasn’t had a strategic planning session envisioning the Village of Nakusp, the role of the sole shareholder, has not been made clear, nor how the funds will be best distributed to serve the community as a whole.

As the shareholder, the Village could determine that the profit distribution come as dividends payable to the municipality for distribution to the community or as an operating expense payable directly from NACFOR to community groups. If the profits were to come as dividends, they could be used to purchase Village assets like the Cedar Chalets, said Tynan as an example.

Council voted that for this year that council direct NACFOR to distribute funds in the community this year as outlined in the business plan, but also that council sit down and clarify the Village’s role as NACFOR’s stakeholder.

Springs rate increase hotly debated

At about a six per cent increase, rates will be going up at the Nakusp Hot Springs, and not everyone is happy with the changes. One proposed change was to the Youth category from ages 6-17 to 4-17. Councillor Joseph Hughes made the point that a four year old with a parent is like one person compared to a more independent six year old.

“I think we want to be supportive of younger families,” said Hughes. Other councillors agreed and the category was switched back to 6-17.

Hughes was also not impressed with the removal of a local’s rate, arguing “the hot springs are a community asset that we want the community to use.”

CAO Tynan said what “local” means was unclear and led to difficulties to staff. She also said that getting locals to the springs was part of the rationale for the inclusion of passes with tax forms. A season’s pass would be a great way for locals to get the most out of the springs, but more research needs to be done, said Tynan.

Hughes said he was really bothered that accommodators are given a reduced rate lower than the punch pass rate. Councillor Guy Duchaine said the tickets were loss leaders designed to promote the hot springs, hopefully drawing people back again.

The first, second and third readings of proposed changes to the Nakusp Hot Springs rates passed, with Coun. Hughes voting in opposition.

Three biomass possibilities discussed

A report prepared by Wood Waste to Rural Heat’s (WW2RH) David Dubois outlined different costs and benefits associated with developing biomass projects to heat various Village structures. Depending on the location of the project, the estimated costs of a biomass project range from $50,000 to $200,000. Heating the Public Works shop with biomass would cost around $50,000; the Emergency Service Building, $150,000; The Arena, $200,000. Proximity to other buildings that could benefit from biomass heating is one factor taken into consideration as well.

Although there are not funds available to help with the project at the moment, a public-private partnership is one possibility raised by Coun. Tom Zeleznik, who said he could have more to bring as information to budget discussions.

 

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