RDCK board, May 20: Building boom prompts quick project turnaround

·6 min read

A nearly 1,000-page agenda package greeted directors at last month’s Regional District of Central Kootenay meeting. From land-use decisions to the auditor’s 2020 report to revising land-use bylaws, there was a lot to discuss. RDCK decisions about housing and grants are elsewhere in this edition of the paper: here are some of the other relevant discussions for Valley Voice readers.

Slocan fire hall upgrades

Skyrocketing construction costs are affecting everyone – even the RDCK. The Regional District is wasting no time doing upgrades to the Slocan fire hall to get the job done before it will cost even more.

The work includes the design and construction of an additional 18’ x 30’ bay to house rescue apparatus, and to address safety issues regarding insufficient space for equipment storage. The whole project will cost just under $200,000.

To get costs locked down, staff said with board approval they’d issue an RFP for the expansion by the end of May, award the contract by June, and get the work done by the end of the year. “The expansion will be basic in design, in construction, and in finishing in order to stay on budget,” says a report from staff. “It will either be attached to the building or a separate building, whichever is more cost effective.”

The report to directors said staff may be required to negotiate with the successful proponent in order to ensure that the project stays within budget, thus the rush.

“Staff has determined that with the volatility of construction material pricing and the high volume of construction activity in the area, that an award of contract in the near future is advisable,” the report states.

To meet the tight timelines, staff will need to evaluate and award the construction services contract outside of the usual board meeting schedule.

Faster internet for south Slocan Valley?

A proposal by a local internet service provider to install its equipment on the Passmore Fire Hall got a welcome approval from the RDCK directors.

Columbia Wireless approached the board in April, asking to install a connection to the Telus fibre-optic internet line at the Passmore fire hall. It would then be able to improve speeds and connectivity – and provide better communication for emergency workers up and down the valley.

The trade of space-for-speed will clear a big hurdle for the department’s upgrade in emergency communication, involving a system called Radio over IP (RoIP) taking place this year.

“A necessary precondition for this would be the completion of the broadband connectivity upgrade in the form proposed by either Columbia Wireless or CBBC in the Slocan Valley,” a report to the board stated. “By moving to RoIP for primary dispatch and using the telephone interconnect as a backup, fire departments will be able to maintain a constant open connection on their primary to the fire dispatch centre.”

After clearing the agreement legally, and with no objections from any operational department, directors gave it the go-ahead.

Columbia Wireless has indicated it could have the equipment installed a month after the board made its decision. When Valley residents will see the improvements, and just what the difference will be, hasn’t been announced.

Factor 5 warps ahead

Kaslo and area’s recovery from the pandemic will be guided by the Factor 5 consulting group. The RDCK board of directors agreed to award the agency with a sole-source contract to aid the community’s recovery from the pandemic. The project is worth $191,000 and is funded with a provincial grant under the Community Economic Recovery and Infrastructure Program.

Factor 5 will develop a Rural Recovery Plan for the Area D and Kaslo region for the local economic development commission, with a focus on agriculture. It has a head-start on the project, having spent the last two years working in the region on economic development studies under the Rural Dividend funding program. They also wrote the grant proposal for this contract.

“Based on that proposal, the Kaslo and Area EDC has recommended to the board that Factor 5 be awarded this contract on sole-source basis due to the efficiencies that will be gained by continuing with them as contractor,” said a report to the board. “Much of the work to be done under this contract will be subcontracted to local contractors, including the Kaslo Food Hub.”

The RDCK says it wants to make sure any plan includes “a long-term economic development structure that includes the Kaslo and Area Chamber of Commerce.” The Chamber also got a grant from ETSI-BC to hire a consultant for six months who’ll work in in partnership with Factor 5.

Calling Kootenay Lake Control

The board is extending an invite for the Canadian head of the International Kootenay Lake Board of Control to meet with the RDCK.

Board Chair Aimee Watson says the Regional District should know more about changes being discussed about the group’s operations.

The Board of Control – an arm of the International Joint Commission that oversees the implementation of the Columbia River Treaty –is mostly a technical board that controls the rise and fall of Kootenay Lake, which is part of the Columbia River system.

The RDCK motion notes there’s a policy paper being developed about the operation of the BoC, and this is a good time to get the public involved in the process.

Watson said now would be a good time for the BoC to come “and inform the RDCK directors on the white paper process, including the purpose, geographic scope and public review opportunities, and further, that the RDCK inquire how local government or informed citizens in the Kootenay Lake area can participate in the Kootenay Lake Board of Control, including being appointed as members on the board as is the case with other boards.”

“So far, Kootenay Lake has been confined to the engineers and managers of the lake system,” said Ramona Faust in supporting the motion. “This is a request to open it up, because the [International Joint Commission] has been asked for a long time to do something different, and they created a white paper about what that should be. So it would be nice to hear from them.”

Director Garry Jackman said he looked forward to the meeting, and in 20 years of dealing with the group had found them open and willing to communicate.

Nakusp emergency coordinator

The RDCK is renewing its emergency services agreement with the Village of Nakusp.

The RDCK’s board of directors approved renewing the hours for an Emergency Program Coordinator (EPC).

Under the agreement, the Village’s fire chief provides 14 hours of emergency response services every two weeks, working with the local contacts in communities from Nakusp to Silverton.

“Having a resource in Nakusp provides response capacity for the northwest portion of our region, including west of the Columbia,” said Chris Johnson, Manager of Community Sustainability. “Without this contract in place, our nearest resource would be a three-hour drive away from large areas of our region.”

The report notes staff explored an option to not extend this contract, however concluded “the risk to the local area would be at an unacceptable level with the resulting increased response times.”

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

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