The Village of Kaslo has recognized it has an obligation and duty to take part in the reconciliation process with Canada’s First Nations.
Council approved a motion that endorses the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls for Action, which include municipal governments in its recommendations.
The motion also says the Village recognizes it has a duty to consult and engage with local Indigenous communities towards mutual learning and understanding during the Official Community Plan review process. It commits the Village to harmonize its bylaws and policies with the relevant principles of UNDRIP and the Calls to Action.
That commitment will be detailed in the Corporate Strategic Plan.
While municipalities are limited in their power by legislation that makes them a subordinate level of government to provinces, endorsement of UNDRIP “shows support for the principles of the Declaration generally,” a staff note explained.
“The provincial and federal legislation already compel municipalities (among others) to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent with affected Indigenous communities,” CAO Ian Dunlop wrote in a report. “This does not necessarily mean achieving consent, which is not always possible, but making a good faith effort and legitimate process of working towards achieving consent.”
Councillors approved the recommendations without debate.
“I want to commend the CAO for an excellent report,” said Councillor Rob Lang. “I was personally really unclear as to what the Village’s role could be or might be in the process, and it’s much clearer to me now. Job well done and I’m looking forward to this continuing process.”
Council also approved staff contacting the Kootenay Lake Historical Society to review the Village’s archives to identify and collect copies of any local records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system. Those will be provided to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Fixing the Moyie
The Village is going to apply to the federal government for help in doing some much-needed repairs and improvements to the community’s heritage tourism gem – the SS Moyie.
The Moyie is in need of several important repairs to fix everything from the physical structure to the land it is on.
“The SS Moyie sternwheeler, a municipally-owned national historic site, is a key tourism draw for the area,” says a briefing note written by staff. “It needs significant capital investment to achieve the required post-pandemic revenue streams and support resiliency of the sector locally.”
One project is already underway – renovating the weatherproofing envelope around the old paddlewheeler – but more than $400,000 in other work has been identified. Trouble is, the village and historical society have been unsuccessful in finding more grant money to pay for the work.
They’re now pinning hopes on a $15 million Tourism Relief Fund to pay for the projects.
The money is earmarked for the “advancement of national tourism priorities aligned with Canada’s Federal Tourism Growth Strategy”.
The fund will pay for projects up to $500,000, if they can be completed by March 2023.
“Funding could be used to stabilize the bank above the SS Moyie and create an outdoor amphitheatre for events, as well as for capital improvements to the Visitor Information Centre to enhance visitor and employee safety,” notes a report to council. “Additional elements could include expanded digital marketplace offerings and the development of additional promotion and marketing content.”
It’s not known yet what kind of matching funding might be necessary.
Council approved staff investigating further and applying for the fund. The Village will now go to stakeholders like the Kootenay Lake Historical Society, the Chamber of Commerce, as well as tourism and economic development groups for more input.
The Kaslo and District Arena will be getting a new scoreboard.
Council approved spending about $12,000 on the new clock/timekeeping device for the sports facility – and it won’t cost taxpayers a dime.
That’s because the money was donated by the family of Murray Pearson, a local man deeply involved for many years in local sports and recreation.
But the memorial money was being held in the Village’s arena reserve fund, so needed a council resolution to free it up for use. RDCK Area D Director Aimee Watson also has to agree on the spending plan.
While Councillor Henry Van Mill suggested the money could probably be used in many better ways on the old building, Councillor Molly Leathwood pointed out that’s not what the gift was intended to do.
“The donation from the Pearson family was not for operating costs, it was for things we aren’t necessarily able to buy,” she said. “We’ve wanted a new scorebox for a number of years, they can’t even find replacement parts for [the current one].”
Council approved the spending.
The new OES Model 009C Hockey Scoreboard – which can be adjusted for multiple ice sports, can count shots on goal, penalty time, has its own horn, and much more – should be installed later this fall.
Council approved proceeding with replacement of the sidewalk along the north side of Front Street from Fourth Street eastward, for approximately 45 metres.
“This is definitely one of the more poor-condition sidewalk areas,” said CAO Dunlop.
At Councillor Henry Van Mill’s suggestion, staff may also add a spot repair at 441 Front Street if time, money and materials allow. If not, it will be added to a future project schedule.
Work should begin this fall, and continue in the spring if it can’t be completed before the snow falls.
Permissive tax exemptions
Council gave first two readings to a bylaw for Permission Tax Exemptions for 22 community groups to “recognize the value of services provided to the community by non-profit organizations,” a report to council said.
The hospital (at $28,300), golf course ($14,000) and arena ($12,000) get the biggest breaks this year. Among the newcomers who successfully applied for the tax break for 2022 are the Victorian Hospital of Kaslo Auxiliary, the Seniors’ Hall, and Periwinkle Daycare. Eleven non-profits getting the break occupy Village-owned properties. In all, just over $106,000 in taxes are being forgiven. That amount will be shared among all the other taxpayers in the community.
It’s as regular as the leaves turning and kids going back to school – the fall Woodstove Exchange Program is back. Funded largely by the RDCK, local councils also chip in a bit of money to encourage people to turn in their old woodstoves for more efficient, less polluting ones. Council approved adding $100 to the local program, to sweeten the rebate for up to five people.
Usually one or two homeowners take advantage of the program every year, staff noted.
Resource recovery support
After years of work, the Regional District of Central Kootenay has developed its new Resource Recovery Plan. The plan is supposed to show the regional government has an effective and locally supported plan that will decrease the amount of waste – and greenhouse gasses – produced in the region, as well as properly decommission legacy landfills and increase recycling.
The plan now has to go to the provincial government for approval. The Regional District is asking municipal governments – who get their waste services delivered by the RDCK – to provide a letter of support, showing the plan has local buy-in.
While there are concerns about what the potential costs of some of the projects will be to local taxpayers – like curbside pickup of organics – CAO Dunlop said that “we do support the direction it is going, subject to finding more about costs.”
Council agreed to provide a letter of support.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice