What’s up in Nakusp: Mayor’s report

The semi-annual report from Nakusp's Mayor Karen Hamling.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had the opportunity to provide you with a Mayor’s report.

Council managed a break this summer and were able to have a month off. We had a special meeting on Aug. 9th to approve the borrowing, from the Municipal Finance Authority, of $710,000 for the Hot Springs Infrastructure Loan and the Emergency Services Building loan of $110,000.  Both these loan authorizations had to go to the Regional District of Central Kootenay board meeting for approval.  All municipalities must do borrowing through the RDCK.

The Hot Springs loan will go back into reserves – where it was borrowed from and will be part of the operating budget for the springs. The $110,000 for the Emergency Services building will go back into general revenue. Although council had hoped to be able to bring the building in on budget, we were unable to do so for various reasons. The building is worth $2.4 million and the cost to the Village was $110,000. A great big thank-you to all those who helped keep the costs down by volunteering their time to paint.

Aug. 16th we had a public hearing to deal with zoning issues.  Several zoning issues have been brought forward to council and we are reviewing them. It is important that council gets the legal facts with the planning and zoning. Our process must be transparent and open for all. We are aware that many people would like to see the issues addressed and we are working towards this. Council must also be cognisant of the Official Community Plan and the public planning process that went into this. Staff has been busy researching and putting together reports for our review. Some of the issues have been brought about by BC assessment authority’s decision to catch up. This arose from a law suit in Vancouver where all vacant land is now taxed at the highest rate. They look at the actual use of the land. Our current zoning and OCP were put in place in 2008 and it would be my desire to see the community review the OCP within the next year or two to ensure it meets the needs of the community.

I attended the Rural Emergency Medicine Conference in Kelowna and did a presentation on the community’s behalf. I met with community members of the Northern Health Authority and spoke with them concerning their physician recruitment and working together.  There was good representation from the Northern Health Authority and I have to say, that I was very disappointed with the attendance, or lack of attendance of the Interior Health members – considering it was in their own back yard.

The locums that attend here like our community.  The issues arise in trying to get full time physicians are that many of them do not want to do the required on-call or the emergency room work.  Dr. Lea is working hard to bring in new physicians and the Physician recruitment committee is doing their best to support him.

The Nakusp Hot Springs Committee is in place and is working hard, with staff, to make improvements to the springs facility and we appreciate their time and efforts.

The web cam and weather station, at the airport is now in place.  In early 2010, after consultation with the Village of Nakusp, Arrow Lakes Hospital Foundation and Arrow Lakes Hospital Auxiliary, a decision was made to study the feasibility of installing a weather web cam to enhance pilot decision making with regard to BC Ambulance Service medivac aircraft.  Searidge Technologies was commission to do a study.  The ALHF and the hospital auxiliary paid for the study.

Ken France, a local pilot, was consulted about aviation issues and he became involved with the group.  Ken had experience installing a camera tower on a local mountain for Canadian Mountain Holiday’s heliskiing operations.  He rounded up local support to donate the installation component of the project which significantly reduced the cost to the local support organizations.  We now have a tower, cameras and weather recording equipment installed and it is going through final testing for inclusion in Aviation Weather Infrastructure.

Installation began in May and because of poor ground conditions, Mark Homis of Highland Helicopters flew the concrete for the tower foundation.  This prevented further delays because of the weather this spring.

Several individuals and companies that continuously ‘stand up’ for our community donated time, equipment, materials, expertise and money toward the completion of the project and deserve our heartfelt thanks:  The Arrow Lakes Hospital Foundation and Arrow Lakes Hospital Auxillary who funded the acquisition of the equipment, technology and software for the project; Hufty Hewat(Wilf Hewat Repairs); Isaque Vieira(Arrow Lakes Redimix); Crossley Coats(Arrow Lakes Welding); Mark Homis(Highland Helicopters); Butch Warantz(Butch’s Woodworking); Alister Skey(IT support); Ken France; Canadian Mountain Holidays; Dr. Diana Kelland and the Village staff.

A huge thank-you goes out to all of you for making this very important project a reality.  This project will be a huge benefit to ensuring air transport of patients from our community.

The other area I would like to address is the trauma that Nakusp has been through in the past couple of weeks.  Our emergency services people have been stellar in their performance and deserve our thanks and recognition:  Search & Rescue, Road Rescue, Nakusp Volunteer Fire Department; The RCMP and our ambulance crews.  The members have gone above and beyond the call of duty and deserve our appreciation and support.

On a closing note, I thank those of you who take the time to call and check out rumours that constantly fly around the community.  Council and staff always appreciate the opportunity to provide the facts and information that you require.