Kaslo council, October 24: Kemball building renovations

The Village will apply for $1 million for renovations to the Kemball Memorial Centre. Council agreed to submit the application to the provincial Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program (REDIP) for increased accessibility and exterior and systems improvements.

“[The Kemball Building] is a really important public asset,” said CAO Ian Dunlop.

Built in 1912, the building is currently home to the Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre, with several businesses and coworking spaces. The centre offers public access high-speed internet.

In April 2022, the Village received a $979,173 provincial grant from the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) to finance renovations to the building. But after crunching the numbers, the Village soon realized the project would be more in the range of $2 million.

“The [CERIP] application was submitted by the BC Rural Centre back in 2020,” Dunlop said. “Some of the [engineering report] numbers were outdated, and though they tried to increase some of the contingencies to account for the age of the information, it turns out it quite vastly underestimated the cost of the project.”

The Village gained valuable insight after consulting with North Mountain Construction, builder of the new housing project, and now, with a better sense of the cost of the project, will be applying for the Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program (REDIP) grant.

The REDIP grant will cover 80% of the project cost, so a $1 million grant would require a $200,000 contribution from the Village. The Village’s portion would come from the Columbia Basin Trust Charge-Up grant, the Kemball reserve fund, the Village’s Community Development Fund, and Village surplus funds.

Renovations would include accessible washrooms and a lift for the front entrance, energy upgrades, a new HVAC system, and upgrading the internet server room. New windows, structural work, and brick work would also be done.

The 2022 CERIP grant will wrap up in March 2024. The Village is hoping for an extension so it can use the funds in the coming construction season. If all the money can’t be spent by March, the Province will allow the Village to reallocate funds to other projects, such as Moyie Amphitheatre and directional signage.

Holiday hampers

Council approved a Community Development grant application for Kaslo Community Services’ holiday hamper program.

The organization will receive $3,500 to help deliver holiday hampers to Kaslo and Area D residents in need. The requested amount will be matched by the RDCK Area D Director.

Kaslo Community Services has been running the holiday hamper program since 2010. Last year, it shared 101 hampers for families and individuals in need. This year, it hopes to put together 110 hampers. Each hamper will include food for a holiday meal, as well as gifts for children. Volunteers help pack and deliver the hampers.

“In this current climate of increasing cost of food, both need and costs are increasing,” said Jane Ballantyne, Co-Executive Director of Kaslo Community Services.

The organization will also be seeking a grant from Columbia Power. Local groups and individuals have made donations, and Kaslo Community Services is welcoming more.

The estimated cost of the program is $12,500.

Recreation grants

Nine local groups will receive recreation grants: Kaslo and District Arena Society (new hockey uniforms), .JB Fletcher Restoration Society (Tea & Textiles monthly events), Kaslo & Area Youth Council (Santa’s Workshop & Winter in the Forest), Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trails Society (spring 2024 trail maps), Kaslo Racquet Club (protective tents for the courts), North Kootenay Lake Art & Heritage Council (Banner Replacement Project – see below), Kaslo Minor Hockey (ice rink divider), Kaslo & District Public Library (Adult and Teen Maker program), Kootenay Lake Independent School Society (rain pants for the kids at Periwinkle Children’s Centre).

Beautiful banners

There will be more decorative banners around the downtown core next year. The banners are already on Front Street during the summer months, and council amended its agreement with the North Kootenay Lake Arts & Heritage Council so that next year, banners can also go up on 4th Street and 5th Street. The banners will be installed prior to May long weekend, and removed after Labour Day.

Budget revisions

CAO Ian Dunlop presented 2023 budget revisions to council, highlighting updates made to reflect changes that have happened over the year.

Revenue numbers were adjusted to reflect higher donations to the library, higher interest rates on investments, anticipated contributions, and completion of projects.

Projects that have been completed are the gazebo in Vimy Park, a cemetery mapping project, and swim and boat docks.

Projects that are close to completion include LED streetlights and the arena fire alarm system.

“We are spending and receiving about $1.3 million less than originally anticipated,” said Dunlop. “But we know that at the beginning of the year, the budget was quite ambitious to take on, so we were still able to achieve quite a lot this year.”

Projects to be finished in or deferred to 2024 include Front Street Park retaining wall, the Kaslo River Dike project, and painting City Hall.

Rachael Lesosky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice