A grant opportunity announced on September 30 from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development was directly targeting “communities who face challenges when it comes to providing recreational infrastructure particularity in rural B.C.,” stated Premier Christy Clarke. “Priority will be given to small communities, many of which lack the capacity to fund infrastructure. Eligible recreation projects will include sports facilities, community recreation spaces, fitness facilities, trails, bike paths, walkways, playgrounds and other indoor or outdoor recreational centres.” The deadline for applications is Dec. 28.
This grant and this deadline were the main focus of the first regular working town council meeting held under the newly appointed council. Councillor Marilyn Harkness stated, “the grant program is hoping to target as many rural communities as possible. It is looking to be approximately $400,000 per application, so a project of smaller value seems to be the way to go.” Harkness suggested an expansion on the ZigZag trail might be a worthy “shovel ready” project that would fit under the guidelines and tight deadline.”
“I would like to see our community strive for an aquatic centre at some point in the future,” stated Councillor Frank Armitage, “but for now I believe we need to give the aquatic centre topic a rest. The community spoke and we have to respect that. I feel it is a highly inappropriate time to talk about an aquatic centre. We need time for this community to heal. We have to roll up our sleeves and review all feedback before revisiting the issue.”
“The ZigZag project sounds like a good idea,” stated Councillor Jason Earle. “I ask council if there are any other shelf ready projects, we could consider?”
Chief Administration Officer Patrick Robins said simply, “There is nothing identified at this time.”
“We need to let the pool discussions settle down,” added Councillor Kim Maynard. “If we have something else ready to go then that is where we should be headed.”
Councillor Harkness stated, “I don’t believe we would have time to put together any kind of pool proposal anyway and not sure that a repair to our old pool would fit. We were over budget on the ZigZag and this grant money could really help extend the use of it. Our sidewalks also need enhancing. We could use this grant money to address both issues.”
Mayor Fred Thomas said, “I would like council to consider fixing the existing summer pool.”
Harkness reminded council, “the grant cannot be used for repairs.”
Thomas countered with, “the pool is 25 yards long, not 25 metres and could be changed from the five lanes it is at the moment to six lanes and we could fix the change rooms up to code. This should be considered beyond repairs. We could also add a sloping entrance to the pool for wheelchair access.”
Armitage stated, “In my opinion, fixing our old pool would be throwing good money after bad. We can get by with the pool as is and I believe we should until we are appropriately ready to revisit an aquatic centre. Rushing from one pool idea to the next under a tight deadline is not the answer. ”
“I agree with Councillor Armitage,” said Harkness. “We were given a clear message from our constituents. No one said they wanted the existing pool repaired or upgraded. It would be like a consolation prize. We need to take more time. We have learned a lot of lessons from the referendum and it would be way to difficult to pull something together at this time. I too would like to see us move in a new direction.”
Harkness motioned for town to apply for the grant to go to the ZigZag and sidewalk improvements which are both shovel ready projects.” The motion was carried.
Thomas wanted it noted that he objected to the decision. In an unorthodox move Thomas allowed the gallery to address the pool upgrade idea. Several Kokanee Swim Club members were in the gallery.
Lindsay Van Genne spoke on behalf of the swim club stating, “there are 42 members in the swim club. We would like to know we will have a pool opening this summer. “
Armitage replied, “I respect what the swim club has achieved. However, I feel would be putting a band-aid on the referendum and possible effecting our chances of a future aquatic centre to move forward with repairs to the summer pool.”
Thomas stated, “I would like my vote to be against the ZigZag/sidewalk upgrades. I would have preferred to look at other shovel ready projects.”
Council discussed the division of town portfolios next . Thomas suggested, “no one have a specific portfolio,” referring to the George Cuff seminar attended by Thomas and Maynard to help ease them into their elected roles.
Councillor Earle added, “When we are assigned specific portfolios we become a runner. I would like to see governing bodies not individual groups get portfolios. I prefer liaisons to portfolios”
Thomas suggested, “We have a policy meeting to discuss portfolios in January.”
“One group it is imperative we attend is RDOS,” stated Earle. “I make a motion that Councillor Armitage be appointed the town representative for one year.”
Thomas expressed his interest in the position. “I would like to amend the motion and appoint Frank for now, but revisit the RDOS representation in January.”
Armitage added, “I would like to stay in for one year. I want to see a fair and equal distribution of taxation to our community. Traditionally, it is a one year appointment.”
Councillor Armitage requested two additions to the agenda. “I would like staff to look into snow plowing driveway windrows for our aging population during heavy snowfalls for viability and practicality. Motion was granted.
The second agenda item Armitage addressed was the trail lighting. “It is a big concern to citizens. The trail lighting is beautiful, but needs to have some timing restrictions enforced to provide energy efficiency.”
Councillor Maynard offered to speak with the lighting contractor regarding setting the lights to stay on between 5 p.m. and 12 a.m..