Nakusp council, February 13: Kuskanax Delta development

The Village could develop the Kuskanax Delta area northwest of town for new housing and industrial uses – but it would cost a pretty penny.

That’s the upshot of a report on developing the lands between 13th and 16th Avenues, received from a consultant last month.

Local property owners have been asking the Village if the area could be developed for decades, and the Village’s strategic plans identify the area as ripe for growth.

TRUE Consulting found the area could be used for residential, multi-family and industrial uses, but at a cost of more than $4.4 million for water and sewer development alone.

Not only would water and sewer system development on such a large site be expensive, but the Village might be on its own for funding the project, the consultants said.

“We do not expect funding assistance to be available from senior levels of government for a service area expansion such as this,” says the TRUE report. “We assume the Village will create a Specified Service Area to allow for cost recovery.”

The consultants also recommended a geotechnical study be done of the area to help refine costs of development.

Council received the report as information, and asked staff to meet with the property owners to see if they want to proceed with the development – since they’ll be paying for the improvements through taxation for years to come. If there’s enough support for the project, council will help property owners petition for the Local Service Area to be established. If that passes, council will begin planning development this year with an eye to doing much of the work in 2024.

Downtown clock

Council gave the nod for a private citizen to fundraise for a clock, to be installed on Broadway Avenue.

John Guild appeared at council last month to say he was offering to raise about $15,000 – starting with $5,000 of his own money – to purchase an old-school analogue town clock, with Roman numerals and all. The clock would be placed at the corner of Broadway and 5th, he suggested.

Staff looked into the offer at council’s direction. They said the project could work, but they had to consider the impact on a Kate Tupper sculpture, which is located at the same intersection. Councillors said they didn’t want to see the sculpture moved, and asked staff to find a different corner for the clock.

The physical installation of the clock is expected to cost somewhere between $2,600 and $7,800.

Council voted to support the project in principle, and the subject of a final location can be settled at a later date.

RV living hazards

You know your property is in bad shape when it’s declared “so unclean that it is offensive to the community.”

But that’s what officials from the Village, RCMP, and environmental health determined after visiting 1007 4th Street NW, where someone living in an RV was dumping raw sewage from the unit’s holding tank onto the ground. Staff told council a ticket was issued to the person residing in the RV, and the environmental health officers laid down a health order to cease the dumping of sewage and to have the area cleaned up by a professional contractor. On a second visit, staff spoke to the property owner’s grandson, who promised the filth would be cleaned up, and the RV resident would move off the property by May 1.

“Although there appears to be an agreement to have this mess cleaned up, administration recommends that an order for remedial action be made by council to ensure the septage is cleaned up if the owner/occupier does not take care of the matter as promised,” noted a staff report. “This is important to ensure that the septage does not further contaminate the land or cause issues with smell when the weather begins to warm up.”

The property owner has 30 days to clean up the mess, or council will have it cleaned up at his expense.

In the meantime, the staff report said council will have to take another look at the wider issue of people living in sub-standard housing.

“Council will need to consider the issue of people residing in RVs in the near future,” it noted. “This particular situation demonstrates health hazards that may be occurring elsewhere in the community when the land is not set up or zoned for RVs (such as in a campground).”

Search and Rescue request

A request for a 20% discount on the use of Village squash courts for Search and Rescue volunteers came from the head of the local Search and Rescue Society.

“I feel that by offering a discounted rate to volunteer first responders, the Village will realize increased membership, an underutilized asset will see more use, and our members will have both greater fitness, and higher morale,” wrote society Vice-President Daniel Abraham.

But staff cautioned that council should consider carefully before providing discounts, “regardless of the amount, or the organization making the request.”

“Village facilities and programs are already heavily subsidized by local taxpayers, and in the case of the Rec Complex, also by residents of the RDCK Area K. Reducing fees requires the taxpayer to pay a greater portion of the cost to operate facilities and programs…

“Furthermore, reducing rates for one group opens the door for other groups to request the same treatment.”

Staff noted the move would require a change to the fees and charges bylaw that would have to go through the normal regulatory process. They also said a decision should be made within the context of a wider review now underway of facilities use policy.

Council referred the file back to staff to draw up a policy for dealing with such requests.

Public land purchase

A Nakusp homeowner is going to be allowed to buy a small piece of land between his 10th Avenue property and the rail trail.

Murray Peglar wants to follow the lead of some neighbours who bought an unused slice of land next to the trail from the Village last year.

“Much of it is steep, unusable land that has little to no recreational or functional value to the Village,” notes a report from staff. “Furthermore, due to the setbacks, building anything on this property is effectively impossible. This portion of the larger property has no impact on the village trail and is not park land… “

That simplifies the sale greatly, staff noted, though Peglar will be required to pay for the property subdivision and assessment – noting he’s on the hook for the costs whether the deal goes through or not.

It’s not known how much the land sale will be worth to the Village, though the money would go into a reserve to support future land purchases.

Council approved staff continue discussions with Mr. Peglar.

Community Development Fund

Council is sitting on a pile of cash that could go to some good uses – but they’re being cautioned to spend it wisely.

The Community Development Fund is a grant the Village receives in lieu of taxes from entities generating power in the region. Power companies give the RDCK the money, and the regional government distributes it to each municipality and rural area director.

That money can be accessed by community groups and local governments “to support initiatives that further the social, economic and/or environmental well-being of regional district residents and organizations and/or to reduce regional district tax requisitions.” However, a report to council notes most of the money is accessed by municipal governments themselves for wider public-benefit projects. One project that benefited from the fund was the Village’s Downtown Revitalization Project.

The pot of money grows by about $36,000 a year, and right now stands at about $136,000.

While it’s a valuable revenue stream for the Village, staff cautioned it should be used wisely.

“Staff recommend that council consider using the funds sparingly and only in ways that provide proportionately greater returns in terms of social, economic and/or environmental benefit,” a report suggested.

Council received the report for information.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice