Kaslo council, October 10: Controversial building project granted variance

A Kaslo woman has been granted a Development Variance Permit (DVP) for an odd-shaped lot near B Avenue, despite neighbours’ objections.

Leah Honkanen, on behalf of her mother and property owner Irene Edwards, received council approval to reduce the front yard setback from 7.5 metres to three metres for a future home on the property.

Honkanen originally asked for the setback to be reduced to one metre, but that was denied by council on April 25 this year.

So in July, Margaret Irene Edwards reapplied, but this time for a three-metre setback. The application was considered at the September 12 council meeting, and deferred to this meeting to give council more time to get informed about it.

“I think this is a pretty challenging variance to do,” Councillor Molly Leathwood said.

Leathwood said she visited the site, and noted the concerns of each side of the debate. “I really had to just look at the practicality and the conditions that we had put on the variance,” she said. “I think we’ve done a good job putting conditions on the variance before it gets approved that will at least alleviate some of the concerns that the property owners have.”

One of these conditions was a topographic survey, which has been done and shows there is ample room for a future sidewalk on Village property, and that the B Avenue path would not be obstructed.

Councillor Erika Bird turned the discussion to whether or not residential development is the best use of the land.

“I have spent a lot of time thinking about this one,” Bird said. “There is this concept that, because of the zoning, the highest and best use of that piece of land is residential.”

Members of the public have also expressed concern about best usage, particularly when it comes to protecting the mature trees on the lot. However, the lot is zoned residential, and development is in line with the Official Community Plan.

“If I had all the wishes in the world, I’d make a little toddler park there,” said Bird. “But I feel strongly that my opinion should matter less than a proper analysis of it…. We have to take matters like this on a case-by-case basis.”

Council’s approval will allow Edwards to potentially subdivide the property. Before building can occur, Edwards will need to get a geotechnical survey done by a professional to understand the effect of tree removal on the stability of the slope. She will also need to provide a detailed plan of the sewerage system and other utility connections, as well as the location of driveways and parking.

Masonic Lodge added to heritage register

The Kaslo Masonic Hall on A Avenue will be added to Kaslo’s Community Heritage Register.

Council approved the request from the Kaslo Masonic Lodge, which included the required documentation, prepared with the assistance of the Kootenay Lake Historical Society.

The Kaslo Lodge was the second lodge in the Kootenays, and is the oldest original wooden free-standing Lodge building in BC. Built by the Green Brothers in 1894, Masonic Lodge #25 moved into the upper floor two years later. In 1938, the Lodge acquired the building. For over 125 years, the Freemasons have been hosting ten meetings a year in the upper room, which is still in its original state.

Updated floodplain mapping

Kaslo’s floodplain bylaw was amended to add updated mapping.

The updated mapping is thanks to an RDCK Floodplain and Steep Creek Study, which included the lower Kaslo River watershed. High-accuracy LiDAR technology was used to create the new maps.

The old mapping was from the 1990s and was incomplete.

“The revisions provide better clarity for property owners wishing to develop land in the Kaslo River floodplain area…” says a staff report, but cautions that “the new mapping should not create a total sense of security that parts of lower Kaslo are not subject to potentially catastrophic flooding. Climate change can bring about an increased risk of severe flood events.”

The mapping is available as a layer in the Village’s GIS software and can be accessed by the public through the RDCK’s online web map service.

Handicapped parking signs

Council gave the go-ahead for the Village crew to make handicapped parking spaces in town more visible.

The Kaslo Accessibility Committee did a walkabout of downtown Kaslo at the end of August to evaluate accessibility. It found that the handicapped parking signs are not obvious.

“The signs are not facing the street,” Councillor Leathwood said. “When drivers come, they can’t see it.”

A staff report notes that reorienting signs is a relatively low-cost measure to help make downtown more accessible to those facing mobility barriers.

Housing accelerator fund

The Village will submit an application to the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) Housing Accelerator Fund.

The fund provides incentives to local governments to encourage housing initiatives. It also supports low-carbon, climate-resilient communities that are affordable, inclusive, and diverse.

“It is kind of an unusual type of program,” said CAO Dunlop, “because we’re not actioning any developments, per se. We are actually actioning things that will promote development, such as amendments to our zoning bylaw, or talking to, for example, the Housing Society on how we can get future projects going faster.”

Telecommunications tower

Rogers Communications will have to conduct public consultation before it can be approved for a telecommunications tower on the Kaslo Golf Course.

The company hopes to install the tower to the west of the clubhouse, near the Bell Media tower. The proposed bylaw amendment will create a new zone on the golf course that authorizes the installation of the tower.

Rachael Lesosky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice