Council debates federal riding changes

Yes, I know you’ve missed it over the summer break, but at last the Nakusp Village Council meetings are back in session.

Yes, I know you’ve missed it over the summer break, but at last the Nakusp Village Council meetings are back in session.

With tongue in cheek, Mayor Karen Hamling thanked “the throngs for attending,” after calling the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. on August 27. The only people in the gallery were members of the media.

With no delegations, petitions, or presentations, the meeting ticked quickly along to the CAO report.

Leaks in the works

Nakusp Public Works has dealt with five water main leaks in the past few weeks, all of which have been repaired successfully. Leaks occur due to aging infrastructure, stated the CAO’s report.

“We knew we had leaks from the flow meters on the reservoirs, but we never knew where they were,” said the CAO. “A couple of them were deep down leaks that took a long time to come up. Now we’re monitoring the night flows again to see if we’ve identified them all.”

The CAO said that she and Public Works Manager Mike Pedersen, just back from vacation, will be looking further into leaks in the water system to see if there’s anything more than just aging infrastructure responsible.

Creative paperwork

The increased horsepower of the ice plant has meant that certified operators would have been required at the plant 24/7, but Anna Marie Hogg and Parks and Recreation Manager Richard Cann found a workaround.

By telling the BC Safety Authority that although the plant has the capability to run at a certain horsepower, it is in fact only run at a lower level, Hogg and Cann were able to procure a 24-hour operating permit variance which allowed the waiving of 24/7 certified operation.

Tender hooks

The Kuskanax Creek Footbridge has been put out to tender again because the Village didn’t get a very good response, said the mayor. The Village will be reviewing revised drawings from Omega Engineering, and hopes to have new tenders by the Spring.

Permissive tax exemption debate

After the second reading of the 2012 Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw 643, Coun. Guy Duchaine asked why groups are given a tax break when the Village doesn’t get a write-off, even though the tax break is like a donation.

So certain groups are really being subsidized by the taxpayers, said Duchaine, who then stated he wasn’t sure if he was “100 per cent for” this idea.

Mayor Karen Hamling said that when the discussion about tax exemptions has come up with different non-profit organizations around town, most groups said that they wouldn’t be able to offer the same level of services to the community without the exemption.

“We’ve certainly had this discussion with the groups,” said the mayor, who said that most of the groups were adamant that the Village support them by having the exemption so they can give more back to the community.

Coun. Mueller reminded council that a resolution was made to review the tax exemptions but it just didn’t happen in time for this year, but would in time for the next.

“All municipalities in British Columbia struggle with permissive tax exemptions and trying to get policies that align it with strategic direction, or better criteria, and it’s just a really hard thing to come up with,” CAO Tynan stated.

The CAO also reminded council that the deadline for submitting the exemptions to BC Assessments is October 31, so there is time for further discussion.

“If council wishes, letters can also be sent out to each of these organizations saying that council will be reviewing this,” said the mayor, who added that telling the organizations that council may be considering granting only a percentage of the exemption for the next year so each organization has an opportunity to plan for the change in their 2014 budget.

Year to Date

So far, the Village is right on track for their budget, said CAO Tynan. The only remarkable areas were some vandalism that has caused some grief in terms of the costs of cleaning it up, and the Nakusp Hot Springs.

“The Hot Springs is the real big one that warrants a separate financial statement,” she said, and said she would bring a detailed financial reporting on the revenue in order to have a discussion about how NHS is doing.

Attendance has been down at the Hot Springs from the beginning of the year; likewise, the municipal campground was slower during the cooler than normal June, but both have seen an increase in visitors during August.

Launching the new boat launch

Council voted to authorize staff to give Columbia Power Corporation an access permit beginning February 1 through to June 30, 2013 for the replacement of the Village of Nakusp boat launch.

Couns. Mueller mentioned that it would be best to let people know right away through advertising and signage that the launch would be closed so people don’t plan fishing derbies or the like at the time the launch is closed.

Without a land tenure to stand on

The replacement Kuskanax Footbridge will have a Land Act tenure, unlike the one currently spanning the Kusanax River up by the Nakusp Hot Springs. Apparently there is now a requirement for such a thing, and the Village is ensuring everything is in place for the new bridge.

Re-rezoning

An application to rezone a property at 1601 13th Avenue has raised the issue once again of piecemeal rezoning versus re-examining municipal zoning as part of a public process.

“We need to make sure we’re consistent in our decision-making and if we are going to consider one-offs,” said mayor Hamling.

“To my recollection this is the fourth issue that has come up in the last six months on this area,” said couns. Mueller. “We’ve failed to provide proper industrial land; we’ve tried but we haven’t been successful … Maybe this is the time to enter into the public process.”

Coun. Mueller put forward a motion to deny the application at this time but review the entire R5 zone through a comprehensive public process as soon as possible so that the applicant has an answer in relatively short order.

Mayor Hamling also commented that although the current council won’t examine the Official Community Plan, the next council should.

Setting boundaries

Coun. Mueller brought up the proposed changes to the federal electoral boundaries which was a topic at the last Regional District meeting, one for which Andy Shadrack, director for Area D, prepared a presentation that he will be taking to Elections Canada on October 2.

Mueller and Area K director Paul Peterson were in agreement that Nakusp and Area K would be better served being part of the Southern Interior riding because it would preserve “more historic trade routes,” according to Mueller.

“Logically it makes more sense for us to be with Castlegar and Trail and Nelson,” she asserted.

Coun. Duchaine framed the drawing of boundaries in terms of fighting for resources in competition with Revelstoke and Golden or with the “stronghold” of Castlegar, Nelson and Trail. Duchaine felt it would be better to stand against the more individual Revelstoke and Golden.

The mayor pointed out that Nakusp often gets support from Castlegar and Nelson, and she added that she knew “from experience, we don’t get anything from Revelstoke.” In fact, she said, in the past when Nakusp and Revelstoke have gone head to head for something, Revelstoke has consistently won out over Nakusp.

“Politically, we’re more connected to Castlegar and Nelson because of the regional district, but we’re not with Revelstoke – we should be, but we’re not.”

Getting water smart

Coun. Guy Duchaine will be going to the CBT Water Smart Conference on October 24 and 25 in Kimberley this year. He will be delivering a report to council on his return.

Congrats, Bruce

Bruce Lintott was honoured with an award for his exceptional public service from the Ministry of Transportation on June 28, and council voted in favour of the mayor sending Lintott a letter of congratulations on his award. Lintott has worked for years as the Area Manager from Silverton to the lower Monashee.

“He has a humongous area,” commented counc. Duchaine. “Just a great guy.”