In addition to offering a business tax break (see story, this page), Kaslo Village councillors accomplished a lot at the January 12 meeting.
• The push to bring affordable housing to Kaslo got a boost from the Village. At an in-camera meeting of the Committee of the Whole in December, council passed a motion to support the Kaslo Housing Society’s project if it receives funding. Council said it would contribute by rezoning the site and providing the land either at a nominal cost or as a long-term lease.
The support is being provided on the condition that there are long-term legal agreements ensuring the project is for people needing affordable housing.
The motion was ratified at the January 12 council meeting. The KHS project is now before funders for consideration.
• A Kaslo homeowning couple is getting some pushback on plans to expand a deck on their property. The owners of the house, on 245 A Avenue, want to reduce the setback from their property line from 3.9 metres to 1.67 (approximately 13 feet to five feet) metres to accommodate an addition to their existing deck. The project would also require the overall limit for building coverage on the property to be increased from 40% to 50% to accommodate the change.
Council held a public development variance meeting to hear arguments for and against the change. Two neighbours to the property wrote in to the hearing, objecting to the proposal. One said it would set a “dangerous precedent.”
“Variances should be allowed only when there are special needs, such as providing a wheelchair-accessible ramp, or a small kiosk that acts as an historical interpretation board, not simply because a residential property owner feels like expanding,” wrote neighbour Rick Galbraith.
Village staff suggested that the applicant consider revising their plans to reduce the side setback variance being requested. Recognizing that the existing house and deck are already non-compliant, staff said some relief from the requirements can be justified, “but perhaps not to the extent being proposed.”
The applicant, however, didn’t show up, so council tabled the hearing until its January 26 meeting to allow the applicant to answer some questions.
• The former owner of 439 View Street has found you can’t fight city hall. The Village had placed a Notice on Title for bylaw violations and property remediation in 2018, and put the property up for sale for unpaid taxes last year.
The property was sold by the owner before the tax sale was finalized and the proceeds were used to redeem the property. That turned out to be a $30,000 payday for the Village. The new owners have promised to clean the site of noxious weeds by this spring, and with that pledge, the Village has removed the notice from the land.
“Staff have no concerns with removing the order and are happy to work with the new owners through the planning processes to redevelop the property,” a report to council states.
Mayor Suzan Hewat declared a conflict and removed herself from the discussion of the issue, as she’s a neighbour to the property.
• Staff will prepare a grant application to government for the replacement of the Kaslo Arena’s ice condenser. The project, expected to cost $200,000-$250,000, can receive 100% funding from one of the federal/provincial COVID recovery pots of money.
• The Kaslo Raquet Club wants the Village’s help in expanding their facilities. The KRC wants to build new pickleball courts, rehabilitate the playing surface of the existing courts, install new fencing, lighting and install a small building with washroom. To do that they need a long-term lease and some adjustments to the boundaries of the property, located near the arena. Council directed staff to investigate the issue – there are technical and legal complications with trying to expand in that area – and report back on the project.
• The Village has chosen a manager for its Front Street Park construction project. Chris Temple will handle the construction of the stage and washrooms and will be paid a maximum of $15,000 for the job. The work is expected to be done by early summer.
• The Village is going to take advantage of this year’s reconstruction of the Highway 31 bridge over the Kaslo River. The Province has offered to include a sewer line connection across the river as part of the scope of the construction and design. The Village just has to pay for the pipe and materials needed to install it – about $25,000 – saving the Village from the more expensive job of retrofitting a pipe in the future. Engineers will ensure the pipe will work with the planned sewer expansion. In related news, the Province has told the Village the bridge project may be ready to go out for tender as early as the end of January.
• Council approved a plan by the Kaslo Legion to apply for grants to start planning major renovations to their building. The organization is looking for $5,000 from the RDCK Community Development program to get the work underway. The building, constructed in 1901, needs significant repairs and even scoping and pricing the project is a big job.
• Kaslo Hotel owner John Eckland wrote to council calling on it to ban Kaslo Jazz Fest, saying that the festival-free long weekend last summer worked out just fine. (The letter was published in the January 14 Valley Voice.) Council received the letter as information.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice