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RDCK board roundup: Housing Needs Report contract awarded

All the news from the RDCK's June 13 meeting
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The Regional District of Central Kootenay office in Nelson

M’akola Development Services has been awarded a contract for the Regional Housing Needs Report project.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay has partnered with interested communities on the project – the Villages of Nakusp, Slocan, and Silverton. At the board meeting June 13, Directors Suzan Hewat and Diana Lockwood said they would like their municipalities – Kaslo and Salmo – to join the project. The contract is for a total of $83,711.

Due to provincial legislation, the RDCK must have an updated Housing Needs Report completed by Jan. 1, 2025.

A Housing Needs Report describes current and anticipated housing needs in a community through data collection, analyzing trends, and community engagement. Its purpose is to identify gaps and better inform and understand what kind of housing is most needed in communities. 

The last Housing Needs Assessment was completed in September 2020. 

New CBT management plan

Jocelyn Carver and Johnny Strilaeff from Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) presented the new Columbia Basin Management Plan (CBMP) to the board.

The CBMP is basically a strategic plan, said board chair Carver. 

“This iteration is quite purposefully a longer-term plan, to give us the time to try new and different things and to see them more fully expressed over many years,” she said.

The plan guides CBT’s strategic priorities for the next 10 years. 

Developed over an 18-month period, the CBMP involved extensive community engagement, including visits to 23 Basin communities, online sessions, pop-up events, symposia, and a youth summit. 

Themes that emerged were health and resilience, said Carver, within four main areas: organization, relationships, communities, and natural environment.

The CBMP will guide how the organization will prudently manage its assets and investments; how it will deepen relationships with Basin communities, Indigenous peoples, and people within Columbia River system area; how it will help Basin communities take action to continue being incredible and vibrant places; and how it will support community-led efforts to enhance Basin ecosystems.

With the new CBMP in place, the next steps for CBT are to refine and amplify its new and existing initiatives, said president Strilaeff. A whole new suite of programs will be announced beginning in the fall, and long-standing programs like the ReDi grant will continue.

CBT is a self-sustaining organization, with all dollars generated coming from investments. A significant amount comes from hydroelectric project partnerships in the region, he said. 

One of the turbines at the Arrow Lakes Generating Station, just north of Castlegar, is experiencing problems that has significant financial implications for the Trust, said Strilaeff, which could lead to some difficult decisions during the current fiscal year. 

“I’m sharing this, not to sound alarmist, but to remind that, at the end of the day, the revenue that we generate has to come from these projects and investments, and from time to time we will encounter these types of challenges,” said Strilaeff. “We will work through them prudently, but it could mean that, on occasion, we do have to take a hard look at the programs we offer.”

CBBC fibre-optic project

Local governments in the Slocan Valley area are contributing Community Works funds over the next three years to the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation for its Backbone and Last Mile Fibre project, expected to be completed by the end of March 2027.

The project will bring high-speed fibre-optic internet services to Areas G, H, and K, and Salmo, Silverton, and New Denver.

Area H is contributing $288,019.52 per year; Area K is contributing $100,211.76 per year; and Area G (Salmo area) is contributing $126,863.76 per year. The Villages of New Denver, Silverton and Salmo are also contributing a total of $120,000 per year between them.

The total project cost is almost $82 million, with about $30 million coming from the federal Universal Broadband Fund.

Area H fire service agreement

The board approved a payment of $74,175 to the Village of New Denver to extend the fire protection service agreement for a portion of Area H to Dec. 31.

Staff will continue to negotiate a contract renewal for a five-year term, effective January 1, 2025.

Verigin Memorial Park added to heritage register

Verigin Memorial Park will be included on the RDCK’s Community Heritage Register.

Verigin Memorial Park is the burial site of Peter V. Verigin and his family members, located on a hillside between Castlegar and Nelson. A flower garden in the park overlooks the confluence of Kootenay and Columbia Rivers.

The park promotes community identity and sense of place, preserves history, demonstrates the diversity of RDCK residents, and is a wild, natural environment for outdoor recreation.

The Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ owns and operates the park.

Being on a heritage register means that the RDCK formally recognizes it as a heritage resource. It does not mean that the property is protected, and does not bring about any costs to local government. 

Kootenay Mountaineering huts

Kootenay Mountaineering Club (KMC) will receive $50,000 to go towards the Grassy and Lost Lake Bonnington Huts Waste and Wastewater Management project.

The funds will be disbursed equally from the Community Works Funds allocated to Areas F, G, H, I, and J.

With the funds, KMC will install environmentally sound timber frame barrel outhouses at Grassy and Lost Lake Bonnington Huts. 

Castlegar Visitor Centre

The Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce will receive $60,000 for the West Kootenays Gateway Visitors Centre and Confluence Building.

The funds will come out of the Community Works Funds allocated to Areas I and J, with $30,000 being contributed by each. 

Final touches are being added, and the grand opening of the new building is expected in August.