Kaslo council, Nov. 22: ‘Most stressful project’ finally gets go-ahead

After nearly seven years of planning, applying for funds, letting out tenders, cancelling tenders, applying for more grants and reimagining the timeline, a project to reduce the danger of flooding from the Kaslo River may finally be about to begin.

Council approved staff to enter a contract with Brenton Industries Ltd. for Phase One of the Kaslo River Dike and Bank Remediation.

The company will be paid just over $191,000, with the total construction budget not to exceed $320,574.

It’s been a long road to get to this point, with provincial and federal agencies involved in the approval, planning and financing of the project. It’s had a number of false starts over the years, as cost estimates rise faster than the funding available, forcing downsizing, partitioning and rescheduling.

“This has been probably my most stressful project over the past couple of years, just trying to make it work at all,” CAO Dunlop admitted to council. “Every time we want to go do something on it, it literally takes six months to get the approvals and everything organized on it. And costs keep escalating.

“This seems like it might be a way forward, but I can’t guarantee it, even as it is.”

The work will see Brenton Industries install rip-rap along the shoreline, and dike rehabilitation along sections of the riverbank. Brenton will construct the project and the Village will supply the materials, which should lead to some savings.

The resolution is carefully worded to keep the project within budget, though staff are hedging their bets, Dunlop said.

“If the material costs have escalated, the project may have to be delayed again or council can approve a revised total amount,” a report to council notes.

The project is mostly being financed by a Union of BC Municipalities program, but the Village will likely have to pony up some extra cash, which can be done through reserves.

If they can get the project done this winter – CAO Dunlop said they were aiming to have the work done by April, before freshet – they would then move on to planning the next phases of the work.

Happy trails in Kaslo

Council gave the green light for new connector trails in the village. The Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trails Society (KORTS) has plans to connect the True Blue trailhead, located at the aerodrome, to the existing Straight Face and Lettrari Loop trails.

“The proposed connector trails will provide safe routes for recreationalists using the new True Blue trailhead to access the existing trail network,” says a staff report. “Public Works staff have reviewed the proposal and do not have any objections.”

The cost of the project will be completely covered by KORTS, though the new infrastructure will need winter maintenance, which council will review during the next round of budget discussions.

Tree-mendous funds

Residents of Kaslo love their trees, and the Village government has put more effort into managing their green cover than most other communities in the region. In 2021, after years of debate and occasional conflict, the Village passed a Tree Planting Plan to create rules about when and how to cut down problem trees, and guide replanting efforts.

This year, nearly $3,000 worth of new trees were planted in Kaslo’s downtown area. And now council has agreed to apply for double that amount for next year’s program.

The money will come from a Tree Canada program, ‘Treemendous Communities,’ which provides funding for “greening projects wherever people live, work or play.” The funds can be used for buying trees, site preparation, maintenance and some education materials.

“Some trees are quite expensive, so if we can apply to Tree Canada for funding to assist with the implementation of the next phase of the plan, I think that will be of benefit to the taxpayer,” said Corporate Officer Catherine Allaway.

The proposed project will see 12 new trees planted in Kaslo in the coming year. What kind of trees and planting locations will be settled before the spring.

Wildfire program

The Village’s wildfire reduction program was quite successful this past year, and it’s time for council to think about next year, the CAO told council.

“The proposed project, developed by members of the FireSmart Committee and supported by Fire Chief Yee, seeks to increase the involvement of local youth in FireSmart activities,” says a report to council. “The proposed grant funding will allow that important work to continue, and will include expanded capacity to involve local youth in FireSmart activities.”

Dunlop told council most of the $40,000 being applied for would be going to hire a youth co-ordinator. The project includes producing an information video and community outreach to promote FireSmart activities.

Council rubber-stamped the application.

Fees and charges

The cost of some services and licences the Village provides will be going up. Council approved amendments to the fees and charges bylaw during its annual review of the legislation, which takes place before annual business licence renewals and water and sewer bills go out in January.

Dunlop said one of the big changes was to the business licence fees schedule, which staff tried to simplify and make more streamlined. One change was merging regulated trade and professional services from two separate categories and charges, into a single $125 annual fee. There’s also a new section, for ‘non-profit organizations doing business.’ True non-profits will still be able to apply for a free business licence, while other non-profit organizations conducting for-profit business will pay a $20 licence fee moving forward.

The annual Outdoor Market will now pay a $200/season fee for renting the Front St. Park, as well as $100/day per day of use.

Campground fees are also on the rise, from $40 to $45 for full-service lots, and $30 to $33 for unserviced sites. Charges for other campground services are going up 10-20%.

Sewer fees will also be rising 2.5%, while water rates will rise by about 2% – except for institutional users like the hospital. They’ll see a big jump next year, from 21 cents a cubic metre of water to 46 cents.

“The large institutional users were paying less than half of anyone else in town,” said Dunlop. “That has now changed to bring everyone in line with other residential/commercial users who pay 46 cents for metered water usage.”

The golf course will pay just 22 cents per cubic metre for metered irrigation of the property.

One of the biggest jumps in rates will be for the damage deposit for portable toilet rentals, which is going from $200 to $500. That’s to cover the cost of renters who welch on paying the port-a-potties cleaning fees.

“This will make sure they returned them cleaned out, or they will cover the cost of us getting a contractor in from Salmo to clean it out,” Dunlop said.

Council gave first three readings to the fees and charges bylaw. It will be adopted next meeting.

What about her emails?

Village staff and elected leaders now have clear guidelines on sending and receiving emails, thanks to the adoption of the new Email Use Policy.

“The proposed policy provides guidance to elected officials and staff regarding the responsible use of municipal email services,” says a staff report. “The goal is to ensure that email communication adheres to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as other applicable federal, provincial or municipal regulations.”

The policy outlines some basic rules: municipal email servers are for municipal business, and “must be able to withstand public scrutiny.” No one using the service should expect privacy for the messages they send or receive, and any that deal with corporate business should be saved. Emails must adhere to all applicable local, provincial, and federal laws, policies and standards. All sorts of spamming is prohibited under the new guidelines, as well as messages that are pornographic, harassing or bullying, use racial and ethnic slurs, or that threaten people’s personal safety.

“Remember you are representing the Village of Kaslo through your email communication both internally and externally, and it is critical that you maintain a positive image for both yourself and the Village,” the policy states. “Users should carefully consider the intended audience, tone, formality, and format for all email messages.”

Employees that fail to adhere to the rules could find themselves subject to disciplinary action or loss of privileges for using corporate email. Same goes for Village councillors, who could be denied access to Village email service by council for violating the rules.

The Village’s new rules closely follow bylaws created by other municipalities.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice