Kaslo council, March 9: Parks issues dominate council meeting

·6 min read

Unapproved trail art prompts warning

Kaslo Village council would like aspiring artists to know volunteer installations of art on local public trails is frowned upon.

An installation of copper art – coiled pipe, metal pieces and found objects that had been placed along the River Trail South sometime in the late fall—was found to be afoul of the rules.

“Council does appreciate public art and wanting to showcase our talented artisans,” says Councillor Molly Leathwood, the chair of council’s Parks, Trails and Arts Committee. “We have worked over the last few years to promote art in the village but we do need to ensure that we protect the natural environment and that people understand that Village property does require permission to install.”

Someone removed the art recently, after a resident complained about the unapproved installation and before the committee formally issued a directive to staff to remove it.

Saving Front Park trees

A plan to clear the brush and 18 mature Norway maple trees from Front Street Park as part of the park project has been revamped, much to the relief of at least one concerned citizen.

Lynn van Deursen was concerned when she heard the strip of land on the west side of the park was going to be cleared out to “maximize the usable space in Front Street Park and install utilities,” according to a staff report. They were going to be replaced with new trees and landscaping.

However, a new plan that allows most of the existing trees to remain has the stage further away from the west property line and service lines trenched to connect at the front of the stage.

“This would [still] involve removal of four or five of the trees with professional advice,” said Chief Administrative Officer Ian Dunlop in a report. “Planting new trees and landscaping in the park would be of native species in consultation with the design committee.”

The report cautions that shifting the stage to save the trees could result in “the loss of some spectator area and useful space for the Saturday Market or other park events.”

The revised plans will be reviewed by the committee overseeing the park’s design, and the Village’s Parks, Trails, and Arts Committee.

“I think it’s the right approach,” van Deursen told council in the public comment period.

Meanwhile, work continues in preparation of full-scale construction this spring. A new fence will be constructed inside the property line, which will run on the other side of the trees. For now, a temporary fence is in place. The storage shed, bike rack, garbage bins, bench, table and windbreak have been removed.

Debate over outdoor learning structure

A request to build a kind of gazebo at an abandoned landfill site near town prompted some lively debate at council.

In February, teachers Sarah Pollick and Molly Leathwood (also a Village councillor) from JV Humphries School asked council for permission to build a “community outdoor learning structure” by the Upper Bike Park in Kaslo.

But staff weren’t keen on the idea.

“There are a few concerns about this site that make it less desirable than other potential park sites in the Village,” said a report to council. “Construction on top of a former landfill is not generally recommended, although the structure would not require a deep foundation. But the remoteness of the site is also a concern, in that it could be a maintenance issue. The structure could not be limited exclusively to educational purposes because use of the facility cannot be monitored or controlled, with the potential for vandalism or undesirable loitering.”

The new asset would also have to be maintained as a Village asset, and ultimately doesn’t meet the criteria for parks use.

Councillor Molly Leathwood defended the proposal. “We were looking at this not just for educational purposes. We were looking at this as a community structure everyone can use, everyone who uses the trail,” she said during the meeting. “And I’m not clear why the concern is about loitering if a suggestion is made to build something the same at another location… people can loiter there, too.

“As for building on an old landfill, wasn’t the soil disturbed when they built the bike park?” she continued. “Would there be that much more disturbance to build the structure we’re proposing?”

A partnering group could also help with maintenance, she added.

“Further planning and analysis should be conducted if council wishes to pursue the proposal at this location further,” staff concluded.

The matter was referred back to staff to look into the issues further with proponents.

Sewer parcel tax

Council gave staff the go-ahead to continue work on implementing a new parcel tax for sewer services. The new charge would match the water parcel tax charge now currently in place, and will be used to build up reserves for maintenance work on the sewer system. Implementing a new parcel tax isn’t a rubber-stamp process. A panel called a roll board was formed (featuring the mayor and several councillors) to hear any concerns about the tax’s impact on specific properties. The tax will likely mirror the current water tax, at about $1 a foot, to a maximum of $120 per property. Staff were directed to prepare the parcel tax roll and write up the necessary bylaws for council to consider at its next meeting.

Periwinkle extra land nixed

A request from Periwinkle for changes to its property line was rejected. The daycare wanted a few meters outside the area they lease from the Village for a children’s eating area. Last fall, tweaks to their property lines were granted, to allow them to build a fence and rationalize their outdoor play space for children.

“We’ve already increased their space at no extra charge,” said Mayor Hewat. “I am going to move that there be no change to the existing lease area.”

The motion passed.

Downtown street patios a go

Restaurants will get the 50% reduced rate to use downtown parking spaces for patios again this year. The regular rate is $550 and the reduced rate is $225 per parking space occupied.

Licence renewal

Kaslo’s aerodrome is going to have an anchor tenant for another five years. Council approved extending the BC Wildfire Service’s licence of occupation at a cost of $1 per year. Not much, but councillors note there’s a greater public benefit of having the facility near the Village in the event of a wildfire in the area.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice