It was an unusual council meeting, with councillor Mueller acting as mayor in Karen Hamling’s absence. Councillors Guy Duchaine and Joseph Hughes rounded out quorum, and the trio plus staff tackled the agenda.
Hot Springs rates to rise
First on the docket were increases to rates at the Nakusp Hot Springs. In comparison to rates at other nearby hot springs such as Ainsworth and Halcyon, prices at Nakusp are relatively low, said CAO Linda Tynan. There are 38,000 visits made to the Nakusp Hot Springs each year, with the largest percentage being single adult admissions. Local rates make up 5.5 per cent of tickets, seniors are 15 per cent, 10 per cent punch are pass rates, and 3.5 per cent of admissions are complimentary tickets, including tickets to tax payers. More than 1,000 heli ski visits are made to the pools in January, February and March.
The current rate for a single adult swim will be going up from $9.50 to $10, youth and seniors from $8.50 to $9, and other rates to go up as well, with increases averaging around six per cent overall. The local rate will be axed, and punch passes promoted as a good option for locals.
One of the most significant changes will be that children three and under will still be free, but four and up will be charged the youth rate. Family passes will be for two adults with two children, any additional children will be $5 a head.
Local hotels and motels will be able to buy blocks of 50 passes for $375, a rate of $7.50 per pass, in order to be able to offer them to their guests. Accommodators who give passes to hot springs in municipalities such as Radium ‘massage’ their rates to pay for the cost of the passes, Tynan told council.
“We need to set our rates and we need to be okay with our rates, to know that they’re fair,” said the CAO.
Councillor Joseph Hughes said he’d like to see a more generous local rate to encourage residents to go up to the hot springs more than once in a blue moon. He also pointed out that the family rate could be prohibitive for some families.
Tynan brought up that the punch passes are available for people who are local and brings the rate down to $8 a visit. There is the possibility of an annual pass for individuals and families, said Tynan, who hopes something like that will be made available next year. The proposed rate increases are to take effect Feb.1, 2014.
Bye bye bylaws
Two bylaw amendments were finalized, one to delete the requirement for the grade of the underside of floor systems, and another to remove the requirements of a minimum floor area for dwellings.
The original reason behind the minimum floor space was to preserve breathing space, pointed out Coun. Duchaine, who asked what had changed to make doing away with the minimum possible. CAO Tynan replied that there was no evidence for the argument of breathing space – a minimum required space that guaranteed enough breathable air for occupants – and so the building code has been changed to reflect that. Coun. Mueller added that even the requirement for rooms to have windows has been removed.
Correction: in the print edition, it was incorrectly reported that coun. Joseph Hughes abstained from the vote to accept the Hot Springs rate increase.