City of Castlegar council briefs from Jan. 16

Terri MacDonald, regional innovation chair in rural economic development at Selkirk College, and Pam McLeod, president of the Chamber of Commerce, present a proposal for the Business Retention and Expansion pilot project to Castlegar City Council on Monday. - Craig Lindsay
Terri MacDonald, regional innovation chair in rural economic development at Selkirk College, and Pam McLeod, president of the Chamber of Commerce, present a proposal for the Business Retention and Expansion pilot project to Castlegar City Council on Monday.
— image credit: Craig Lindsay

Bear Aware




Betty Offin presented council with the 2011 annual report for Castlegar Bear Aware on Monday at the regular council meeting of Jan. 16.

"Bear Aware Castlegar had a successful year in 2011," she said in her report. "There were fewer bears in town during the 2011 season than in 2010."

The report said that six bears were destroyed last year due to human-bear conflict, down from 27 in 2010. There were 159 calls to the RAPP line in 2011 as opposed to 280 in 2011.

"Garbage and fruit were the major bear attractants - as they have been since 1998 when the program began," she said.

Offin said the goal for Bear Aware in 2011 was to keep bear attractant issues in the public eye by participating in as many community events as possible.




Business Retention and Expansion Project




Pam McLeod, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and Terri MacDonald, regional innovation chair in rural economic development at Selkirk College, gave a presentation to council on a region-wide Business Retention and Expansion pilot project.

The project is a recently announced three-year priority, regional pilot project.

MacDonald explained the rationale behind the project: business development and job creation are key to community vitality; anywhere from 40-90 per cent of new jobs come from existing businesses; and, in order to support existing businesses, we need to first understand their needs.

The goals of the program are: to accurately access the needs of business; provide assistance to businesses to help them survive economic difficulties and assist them with growth; and, build co-operation and consensus among local government, economic development organizations and business.

If Castlegar is interested in learning more or would like to move forward, the next steps are: to secure funding to support implementation, and follow up planning and action; ensure support and commitment of local government, Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, college, etc.; formation of local task force to support implementation and resource network to support short and long term follow-up; and development of implementation plan and timeline, said MacDonald.




Bridge water/sewer




On Monday night at regular council meeting, Castlegar city council approved Phase 2 of the Airport Lands Servicing Project.

"We're going to go to tender right away," said councillor Russ Hearne. "We're going to try and get the best bang for our buck. Early in the construction season is the best time to get your bids in because all these companies are going to be looking for work. We're hopeful we'll be able to get a great price."

The first phase of the servicing work, which laid pipes under the Kinnaird Bridge for sewer and water mains to be brought out to the airport lands, is mostly completed with only minor work left.

"The project will allow us to connect sewer and water on both ends of the bridge," said Hearne. "The bridgework is all but completed. They're just doing some testing."

The second phase will complete the connection of the bridge mains to the existing City infrastructure.




Toilet Rebate Program




Council agreed to continue with the Toilet Rebate Program into 2012. The program first started in May of 2010 and encourages home owners to replace older 13 or greater litre per flush toilets with newer, more efficient 6 or less litre per flush  toilets.

"One toilet changed in a household with a family of four will save on average 200 litres per day," said Hearne. "That's 400 bottles of water."

In 2011, toilet retrofits totalled 36 for a rebate value of $3,050.

Castlegar Civic Works recommended that the program be funded to a maximum of $4,000 per year with one rebate of $100 or less per single or multiple family dwelling credited to the water utility bill/water meter bill.








At Monday's meeting, Castlegar council received a letter from Castlegar Taxi/Champion Taxi of Trail owner John Foglia asking for support.

"We have requested an increase in fares from the transportation board," said Foglia in his letter. "Over the last five months wages, fuel costs, as well as living expenses have increased substantially.  A request has been submitted to the government for an increase to continue to operate the current taxi companies in Castlegar and Trail.

As a company that is governed by the provincial government, we can no longer continue serving the public as of February 1, 2012 if this increase is not approved. This notice is to give all our valued customers in the Trail, Castlegar and surrounding area sufficient notice."

Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff made a proposal, which was accepted, that council write a letter of support for Castlegar Taxi and Champion Taxi from Trail in their upcoming hearing.

"I recommended that the City of Castlegar send a letter of support for the upcoming rate hearing," said Heaton-Sherstobitoff. "It's an essential service to a lot of the seniors or people with mobility issues or those who can't drive. If we're really into economic development we need to show support for our businesses."

The rates for taxicabs are set by the Passenger Transportation Board. The flag rate for Castlegar is $3.15 including HST. Rate 1, which is the per kilometre rate, is set at $2.06. Foglio is asking for an increase to $2.80 per hour for rate 1. Castlegar Taxi's current wait time rate is set at $43.66 per hour and Foglio is asking for an increase of that to $58.95 per hour.

The Passenger Transportation Board will meet on Jan. 23 to decide whether or not to approve the requested rate increases for Castlegar Taxi.





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