Nakusp council, April 25: Community net, budget set, strata let

·5 min read

Special meeting - internet

The internet in Nakusp may one day be delivered as a municipal service, like water, sewer and pothole fixing. Village councillors agreed at a special meeting held April 21 to partner with other communities along the path of the new Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation fibre-optic line to look at just that option.

“Individual members of council have been looking at and exploring the Kaslo infoNet Society and the high-speed internet product that is being delivered to that community and area,” said a report to council. “Informal, exploratory discussions have taken place between the Villages of Slocan, Silverton, New Denver and Nakusp to band together and potentially create a high-speed internet provider to service the said communities and surrounding area.”

Federal and provincial funding is now available to explore how to deliver the ‘last mile’ of fibre-optic connection to homes. Councils in the valley are intrigued by Kaslo’s experience in setting up its own internet service as a utility, and want to learn more. But the deadline to show interest in applying for the funding was April 25, prompting the special meeting of council.

Council agreed to support “working with its southern municipal neighbours to access the funding, and potentially create some form of an organization that will operate as a local internet service provider.”

This first stage in the process carries no risk or cost for the Village.

ATV trails in town?

The local ATV club wants some way to connect its members from their homes in the village to the hundreds of kilometres of trails surrounding town.

Ernie Knecht of the Arrow Lake ATV Club said they wanted to work with council to get the necessary route planning and police permissions to allow ATVs to travel from within village boundaries out into the trail system.

Recent changes to provincial law and Village bylaws allow for off-road vehicles to use public right-of-ways under certain conditions, and with careful restrictions put in place, he said.

“With the Off-road Vehicle Act, it allows the opportunity for this to take place,” Knecht told council. “It’s just a question of the will to do it and whether we can make it work.”

The club doesn’t see an ATV free-for-all in the future on village streets. Rather, working with council and the RCMP, certain routes could be established where riders with the proper licence and insurance could travel legally and safely to and from the trails.

Knecht said the group wanted to start working with council to make the necessary legislative and procedural changes. He said it could mean a lot for community tourism, as it has on Vancouver Island.

Council received his report for information.

Strata approved

The owners of 409 Broadway have finally got their strata project approved for the building. Council gave the okay for Shon and Janis Neufeld to convert the building’s upper-floor hostel into a three-suite apartment complex, while keeping the main floor commercial.

The process has been underway for several months, with a last-minute snag in March when it was discovered a wall in the building did not meet BC’s fire code. In a report from staff, council heard the issue has been resolved.

“[The walls separating the units] were all deemed to be constructed as specified in the architectural drawings except for the one section of wall in the closet…” said a report from a consulting architect. “This section of wall was covered with an additional layer of … drywall to provide the necessary fire rating."

Staff said now that the building meets all code requirements, council could “confidently approve the strata plan.”

Budgets set

The Village’s budget process is over for another year. Council approved its five-year financial plan and 2022 tax rate bylaw.

As explained in previous coverage, taxpayers in Nakusp will see a total 3.5% increase this year. For residential property tax owners, who make up the vast majority of funders to the municipal government, this works out to an increase of about $29.39 or 3%.

However, the property tax bill will hit harder than that. The Village’s tax bill also includes requisitions from the regional government, regional hospital board and for schools, as well.

“The Village has no control over what these rates are, but must collect and remit the taxes. RDCK taxes are increasing $35.58 or 7.01% for the average single family dwelling,” says a report to council. “Hospital taxes are increasing $1.95 or 3.15% for the average single family dwelling.”

The Village will send its adopted bill off to the Province for final approval. Tax notices should go out by the end of May.

DeSandoli to retire

There’ll be at least one council seat up for grabs in this fall’s municipal elections. Councillor Susan DeSandoli mentioned during the meeting she wasn’t going to be running for council in October’s election. She’s completing her first term as councillor, which was her first foray into holding public office. She’s been an active volunteer and community developer in Nakusp for 20 years.

Council moves digs again

An experiment to return council to the Village’s official meeting chambers didn’t last long. Council re-convened at its chambers at the Village Office for its April 15 meeting for the first time in years. It broadcast the session online for people who couldn’t make it up the steep, narrow steps to the council chambers.

But it didn’t take council long to remember why it moved out of those chambers in the first place. Besides being inaccessible to people with mobility problems, it’s stuffy, hot and crowded in the narrow room. They couldn’t put the air conditioning on either, because that would have cut out the audio from the broadcast feed – which suffered numerous glitches all night anyway, making proceedings almost impossible to follow.

Staff say they’ll return to the Emergency Services Building for council’s May meeting, and they’ll try to have the audio and video issues fixed by that time.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

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