Council has given the go-ahead for a group to raise funds for a statue of a bird that won the town’s heart. Council gave approval in principle to the Public Art Committee to move forward with a statue of Tina the Turkey.
Tina, a wild turkey that hung around the village for most of the pandemic, was killed by a car earlier this year. Local resident Sharon Starrat has been spearheading the initiative to commemorate the bird.
“The [Public Art] Committee would like to see the village accept this piece of art and that it be accepted as public art and displayed prominently in the community,” says a report from staff, which recommended council endorse the idea. However, council is reserving a decision on siting of the statue, and want a look at the design before giving final approval.
Signs encroach public space
A plan to convert a building on Broadway to strata has come across an unexpected problem – one that could affect several other businesses in the downtown.
Council has granted Shon and Janis Neufeld an easement for their property because of the sign – and antique bikes – that hang from the front of their building.
“Although this is a common practice throughout the village, in the view of the law, this is considered an encroachment over Village property,” says a report to council. Since all applicable bylaws have to be adhered to before a strata agreement could go ahead, Shon’s decorations had to be made compliant by granting an easement.
The problem was pointed out by the surveyor doing measurements for the strata process. And staff say while it’s an easement of about 14 square metres of sidewalk, it doesn’t limit the public’s use of the same area.
“The purpose of the easement is to convey non-exclusive rights to the owners of the property to allow for repairs and replacement of siding and fixtures over the sidewalk,” the report says. “The easement will not prohibit the public from using the sidewalk freely, or the Village from maintaining or replacing Village infrastructure as needed.”
The easement will remain on the title of the property indefinitely. The property owners have to carry $5 million in liability insurance, as well. Council approved the easement, and since it was considered a ‘formality,’ the Neufelds were only charged $10 for the decision.
However, the easement “will raise questions about all of the other properties along Broadway Street that encroach over Village sidewalks with signs and awnings,” staff note.
They suggest managing the issue on a case-by-case basis for now, for instance when new signs are going up or properties are surveyed.
“The purpose for addressing encroachments is to ensure that property owners include the Village as an additionally insured party on their insurance policies in the event the overhanging fixtures cause a hazard to sidewalk and street users,” notes the staff report.
While it granted the easement to the Neufelds, the final decision to approve the strata plan was postponed. In reviewing the plans, council wanted assurance that all fire separations were properly rated as per BC Building Code.
Once approved, 409 Broadway, which served as a bike shop and hostel for several years, will be separated into four strata – one continuing the main floor commercial space and the bedrooms upstairs converted to three separate apartments.
Operating/capital budget 2022
Taxpayers in Nakusp will see a small increase to their tax bill this year, as council gave final approval to its tweaked 2022 financial plans.
Council initially approved a 3.5% budget increase in January. Since then, staff have refined the figures, but the budgets council approved have the same increase.
In all, council will spend a little over $5.55 million in fiscal 2022, with $3.4 million of that going to general operating expenses. Water, sewer and the hot springs comprise the rest of the budget.
Changes from the January budget include an extra $25,000 in revenues from the hot springs, as business is expected to be robust in 2022. A new wildfire mitigation and FireSmart coordinator position is also included in the budget, though this is fully paid for by outside grants. Non-profits in town will also get an extra $50,000 to do work under the COVID-19 Safe Restart program.
Council also reviewed and gave initial approval to the capital budget for 2022 back in January. And like the operating budget, there’ve been several changes made since. The revised capital budget totals $3,130,100.
Among the changes are an increase from $700,000 to $869,000 for Downtown Revitalization, after council decided to replace the section of the Powell Creek culvert under Broadway Street at the same time. That increase will be covered by a grant from Columbia Basin Trust.
Both the capital and operating budgets will be wrapped up into a budget bylaw to be passed in the next few weeks, then sent to the Province for approval.
Council bites bullet
Last month we reported on a decision council had to make on the Downtown Revitalization project, the multi-year initiative to spruce up Broadway.
Council had to decide to add a $93,000 culvert to the work being done this summer. Doing it now would be cheaper and more efficient; however, local taxpayers would have to foot the bill. If they wanted to wait and maybe get a grant to do the installation, they’d have to rip up the road twice.
At its April 11 meeting, council approved putting up the money itself for the culvert project. The money will come from the Community Works Fund (gas tax) reserve.
As for the rest of the Powell Creek culvert project, the Village hopes to get grant money to allow it to begin work next year.
Rising costs and diminishing benefits have resulted in a major capital project being put on hold. Village staff have decided to shelve the planned construction of a 200,000-gallon water storage tank in the community.
Water system consultants had recommended the Village build a new tank to help buffer the community in case of water shortages.
The project was included in this year’s capital plan, and $26,000 had been spent on preliminary plans and design.
But recent developments soured the project. Engineers cut the size of the reservoir by 1/5 to compensate for snow loading; the price of the tank doubled because of inflationary pressures; and the cost of earthworks needed also had to be revised up because of rising gas prices.
Ultimately, staff figured it wasn’t worth the extra cost right now.
“Staff is confident that this project is not currently needed and the funds are better used on projects with superior returns,” says a report. “The closing of the project still leaves the Village with information on the requirements of the proposed site if a future reservoir were to make sense; however, staff is confident such a project will not be required for many years into the future, if at all.”
Money set aside for the project – about $228,000 – has been returned to reserves.
No one will be buying any publicly-owned land in the village for a while. The Village received two unsolicited inquiries as to whether a lot at 161 Upper Brouse Rd was for sale – one adding an offer of $100,000 for the property.
The one-acre parcel of land is fully treed and has Brouse Creek running through it.
The Village has no plans for the land at all and “due to its geography, may be challenging to utilize,” staff say.
With so many issues they’re dealing with, council decided not to add the job of getting a market assessment and selling a property to the list. They simply decided that council is not interested in selling any land it owns at this time.
Campground manager hired
The Village has awarded the municipal campground contract. Tracy Brown will manage the Village-owned facility for the 2022 season.
It took two rounds of tendering to get the kind of bid the Village was looking for in the contract, says a report to council.
The contract includes the Village paying for campground expenditures, with the contractor receiving 50% of the revenues. The contract will run from May 1 to September 30, with an option to extend that to Thanksgiving.
“The contract fees are on par with what was budgeted for the campground contractor payments for the 2022 season and should not have any significant impact on the budget,” says the staff report.
Council to be televised
After several years of holding council in temporary facilities, Village leadership is moving home for its meetings.
Council decided to move back to the Village Office Council Chambers for its next meeting, April 25.
Council initially shifted over to the Emergency Services Building after accessibility issues were raised about council meetings, which took place up a steep flight of stairs on the second floor of the Village office. During COVID, the meetings were moved to the recreation complex to provide more space.
Council chambers are still not accessible for people with mobility issues, but thanks to modern technology, the meetings will be broadcast via Zoom. The public will be able to watch the meetings remotely and participate in public question period.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice