Nakusp council, January 11: From marina to arena, Nakusp ponders infrastructure needs

·5 min read

Marina woes

year.News the Village may have to take over operations of the marina raised some concerns around the council table.

The Village heard earlier this month the Nakusp Launch Club Society, which runs the facility, was disbanding for lack of membership. The society wants to turn in the keys to council by the end of March.

While Village staff seem confident they can manage the operation (with perhaps some hires), councillors were concerned about the size of the project being taken on.

“This has the potential to have significant impact on services and taxation,” said Councillor Joseph Hughes. “Look how much trouble we have getting grants for the arena. This would just be another massive one on the list.”

“That is correct,” agreed CFO Mark Tennant.

Hughes suggested the council go to the community with the issue for consultation and direction. He suggested the town could, as a last resort, turn the facility over to BC Hydro for removal.

Mayor Zeleznik said he was reaching out to MLA Katrine Conroy for a meeting to see if she could intervene to help solve the community’s ongoing problem with BC Hydro’s lack of support for the marina. He pointed out other communities on the lake have breakwaters and boat launches maintained by Hydro, while Nakusp is responsible for its own.

“If it goes under, it could really affect the economics of this community,” the mayor commented.

The issue went to council’s strategic planning meeting for further discussion.

Arena heating study rejected

Councillors unanimously rejected a report that recommended the Village forget about producing biomass energy to heat and power the local arena, and instead go for a completely different system.

The report by Rocky Point Engineering, which was hired by the Columbia Basin Trust to assess the Village proposal, said biomass wouldn’t meet the community’s needs, and recommended instead council use a proven system to save money on the ice-making at the community complex.

The Village of Nakusp wants to install a new biomass boiler system to replace the existing electric boilers that provide domestic hot water and hydronic heating to the building. It could be expanded to serve other buildings as well, and would use local wood waste for power generation.

Council had gone to the CBT for a $100,000 grant for upgrading the facility’s systems for energy efficiency.

But the consultants found that “…at an estimated capital cost of $637,200 this is a very expensive project and our analysis indicates this cost will not be recovered over the estimated lifespan of the boiler; therefore, we do not recommend proceeding with this project.”

The REALice system—at a cost of about $40,000 – was a much better investment, the consultant said.

The report did not impress council.

“I struggled with this, I think there are some flaws in it,” said Zeleznik, who’s been studying biomass energy systems for years. “I still think we have to go with biomass. We know it’s proven.”

Councillor Ken Miller, who used to work at the arena, agreed.

“The figures don’t seem to jive. It’s theoretic, even the life expectancy,” he says. “…I want to be convinced these work.”

However, the Village CFO, Mark Tennant, pointed out the grant application had to prove its numbers made sense, and the consultant’s report showed biomass wouldn’t; so the particular grant council was seeking might not be available.

With only a day or two before the grant deadline, councillors chose to stand down on the grant application.

Ice House renos

A plan to do something with the old Ice House at 96 3rd Avenue downtown is going forward to a public hearing. The applicants want to construct a new foundation for the historic building, and are asking council to allow for a reduction of the front yard setback from 16 feet to 1.25 feet.

The plan is to renovate the structure to accommodate two, two-bedroom rental units (one up and one on main floor). Each unit would have proper parking as well as its own yard to enjoy.

“Keeping it in its current location will allow us to provide a beautiful yard space for each rental unit as well as providing off street parking for them,” the proponents wrote to council.

Councillors did have some concerns however, especially about allowing smaller setbacks from the property line. The proponents were to have a chance to defend their proposal at the January 26 council meeting.

Green motion

Council is taking its push to be able to access green energy another step up the lobbying ladder. It passed a motion at its January meeting to forward a resolution to the Association of Kootenay-Boundary Local Governments, which will then forward it up to the provincial organization, the Union of BC Municipalities.

The motion calls on the Province to allow municipalities to “have the option to obtain and use Green Energy within their communities to reduce the increasing energy costs… [and] to provide an alternate option that has low impact on aquatic ecosystems, habitat, land and communities.”

“This resolution is very, very important,” said Mayor Tom Zeleznik. “Hopefully all communities can get behind it, and we can all have a say in green energy, not just clean energy.”

The motion comes after a presentation in November from Hal Wright of Silversmith Power of Sandon. He told council his station can produce clean, run-of-river power, but they have a difficult time selling it to the grid. He was looking for support from communities like Nakusp to pressure the Province’s utilities regulator to even the playing field for small, green producers.

Fire contract

The Village renewed its fire protection agreement with the RDCK, pretty much without comment. The agreement allows for the portion of Area K just outside Nakusp to receive fire services from Nakusp’s volunteer crew. The RDCK is requesting to renew the agreement for five years, paying the Village $78,336 for the service in this first

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice