Nakusp council, May 25: Council hears big ideas and gains interim CAO

·6 min read

Nakusp council, May 25: Council hears big ideas and gains interim CAO

It was a marathon of delegations at last month’s Nakusp council meeting, with four presenters taking up more than an hour to talk to councillors about everything from a new concert stage for the park to fall classes at Selkirk College.

Being a mayor of a small town means wearing many hats, and that was in evidence at the last council meeting, when Mayor Tom Zeleznik handed the gavel over to the appointed acting mayor (Joseph Hughes) while he made two presentations for groups in the community.

Interim CAO

A familiar face to the local government is helping keep the doors open at City Hall after the departure of Chief Administrative Officer Cheryl Martens in mid-May. Linda Tynan was confirmed by council as the Village’s interim CAO at its May 25 meeting.

It’s not the first time Tynan has lent a hand in Nakusp. A resident of Nelson, she stepped in as Nakusp’s CAO in 2011 when the then-CAO went on medical leave, and stayed for four years.

Tynan was director of corporate services and chief financial officer of the City of Nelson from 2006 to 2011, and was CAO of Summerland in the Okanagan from 2015 to 2019. She resigned from that position for personal reasons, saying at the time that travel between her home in Nelson and her home in Summerland was proving to be too much.

New stage

A proposal to build a permanent performance stage in the park was pitched by Zeleznik, representing the Society for Nakusp Community Events (SNCE). Tyrell Jordan and the SNCE are sponsoring the project (see ‘Return of the Nakusp Music Festival? One man is giving it a go,” Valley Voice, May 6, 2021).

“Now to be clear, I am not suggesting we dive head first into another massive festival,” said Zeleznik. “I believe there is a much more sustainable approach to live music and events in our town that could and would be easier to keep a handle on for the future.”

Having small events regularly throughout the summer would likely be more effective in maintaining a volunteer pool for such events, and in supporting local business, too.

“As much as we love the vendors and food trucks we see at larger events, I would rather see the local restaurants and stores supply these things to our patrons,” Zeleznik’s presentation read.

Jordan also spoke to council about his plans, and existing community support. While the pieces of the stage have only to be reassembled in place, and local businesses have come out to support the project, Jordan estimates a further $6,171 has to be raised to get the project completed.

Council voted to receive the report from the SNCE for information, and have staff look into the project and report back to council.

Breakwater dreams

Mayor Zeleznik’s hustle and hard work saved the Village’s marina from being abandoned last year, when he found hundreds of thousands of dollars to do emergency repairs to the facility on the Nakusp shoreline. But there is still much to do to secure that emergency job, and Zeleznik’s been working to try to save it for the long term.

And he presented some big ideas to council to make it happen.

Zeleznik said he had secured a commitment from Celgar/Mercer for a donation of six bundles of dry logs to act as a breakwater, which would add another 300 feet of protection on the west side of the dock. The job would be done with help from Interfor’s tugboat, and other corporate donations for bundling and anchoring the logs.

The now-defunct Marina Society also has a $72,000 contingency fund the Village can use to help offset costs.

But Zeleznik wants to go farther. Calling it an exercise in “thinking outside the box,” he pointed to a 9.5-acre parcel of land just south of the marina the Village owns. Zeleznik says that with some strategic partnering and vision, the site could be turned into a massive marina and wildlife sanctuary.

He says dredging could build up a waterline-level island that’s just off the shore, which would add hundreds of feet of slips for boaters, and create a real community asset. The waterfront trail could be extended to the area as well. All could be done with the use of grants and public-private partnerships, he figures.

“The above presentation is just a vision only that could possibly become a reality without the box thinking on part of the community and area…” he wrote in a report. “[I am] suggesting council and staff to look over the property together to see the possibilities that would benefit the community and area.”

Council received Zeleznik’s report as information, and directed staff to look into the log breakwater idea and report back to council “identifying resources and logistics required to proceed with this project.”

Hot springs reopens

The Nakusp Hot Springs reopened to Interior Health residents on May 26, and will be open to people from other areas after June 15, in accordance with provincial health orders. The facility closed on April 25 for regular maintenance, but remained closed for a month, until May 25, to support the provincial ‘circuit breaker’ called by Dr. Bonnie Henry.

That hit the facility’s revenues. In 2019 (the last time it was open for the full month of April) it made $47,910; this year, it made $41,541. It also had just one-third the number of booked campsites.

While much of the tourist season will depend on COVID numbers staying down, Noel Ballard, the hot springs manager, told council they were expecting a busy summer.

Selkirk College update

Vincent Barletta, Selkirk College campus manager and community education coordinator in Nakusp and Kaslo, let council know what’s new for the fall: increasing availability of first aid training, return of mental health first aid training, digital skills training, and Learning in Retirement. Barletta is also seeking funding for additional training programs to support the forest industry. A new pilot project for students of high school age who have struggled in traditional learning environments may expand in future, he reported.

Interfor presentation highlights

A new planer is coming to Interfor’s Castlegar facility this year, enabling the production of higher value products from the local forest. Interfor currently employs 310 people, three of whom were hired into Nakusp in the last six months, plus 350 contractors. More than 200 of those contractors are from Nakusp.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

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