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McLarens must fix broken windows or city will, council says

West Department store owners Susan and Basil McLaren plead their case to Castlegar city council on Monday night as Phil Markin, director of development services, looks on. - Craig Lindsay
West Department store owners Susan and Basil McLaren plead their case to Castlegar city council on Monday night as Phil Markin, director of development services, looks on.
— image credit: Craig Lindsay

Council briefs  **PLEASE NOTE: Date of Budget Open House has changed from original post

Bylaw enforcement

It's been almost a year, but it looks like Basil and Susan McLaren, owners of West Department store, will have to fix their broken windows and stuccoed walls.

The two appeared before council on Monday and pleaded their case. Basil, who spoke for the pair, said they have two window panes ready to go but wouldn't put them in until they saw more action from the Element Club in living up to the Good Neighbour Agreement.

"Basically, (for the Element to uphold) the good neighbour agreement, number one: there is a noise issue; number two: to patrol disorderly conduct outside and to have staff patrol outside," said Basil to the Castlegar News. "I've talked to a number of bars and the liquor branch and when they do that it keeps everything down to a dull roar and it's very effective."

City CAO John Malcolm told council that city staff had already witnessed Element staff cleaning the area as per the Good Neighbour Agreement and urged council to focus on the issue at hand re: the broken windows.

Council voted unanimously in favour of the bylaw which stated: The city of Castlegar has been unable to secure voluntary compliance with Property Maintenance Bylaw 1120 at 1209, 1217 and 1224 - 3rd Street and 310 Columbia Avenue.

"The decision we made was that we are going on the McLaren's property any way we have to go, to do that in order to do some remediation which involves at least putting windows up in place where the boarded up windows are there now," said councillor Gord Turner.

"We're making this decision because we've been talking to him about this for quite some time. It's still there. It's as much a problem in the area as the problems he brought up about the Element.

"So, yes we do want to do something about his concerns about the Element but we also have to do something about our concerns with the windows. It seems he'll make these promises but, in fact, we have to take serious action to get it done.

"I'd like to see the two windows he's talking about get going and him put them in place. Then we could say, 'yes, he's a responsible businessman starting to fix things up.' But right now we don't see that so we're going ahead with this remediation situation."

 

Skate party

The city of Castlegar's first Skate Party was a big success with more than 250 people participating. Councillor and Community Wellness and Civic Pride committee chair Gord Turner told those in attendance at Monday's city council meeting about the event.

"It was wonderful," said Turner who was one of many staff and council members who volunteered at the party. "We had people coming and going all night but particularly for the fireworks."

The Skate Party took place Friday night at the Kinnaird Park outdoor rinks. Turner said it was great to have a event in town geared towards families.

"It was a friendly, all ages, family get-together kind of atmosphere," he said. "People just seemed to enjoy being out there when it wasn't too cold. Kids were out there doing lots of things. There was hot chocolate and firepits to go to get warmed up. You had people talking to neighbours they maybe hadn't talked to much in the last while. The kids loved it. They were playing in the snow or skating on the rinks."

 

Budget 2013

On Monday, Castlegar city council agreed to have first reading of bylaw 1172, which is the bylaw to adopt the 2013 - 2017 Five Year Financial Plan. Council also agreed to adopt the 2013 provisional budget. In addition, council announced a public open house budget meeting on Monday, Feb. 18 (4:30 - 6:30 p.m.) at the Community Forum.  **PLEASE NOTE this date has changed from what was originally posted here.

"We have ideas of what we want to do and where we want to go and what projects we want to do so we've got some pretty hefty numbers in there," said councillor Deb McIntosh, chair of Finance and Corporate Services. "As I said at the meeting, people need to come out and check and see what we're doing and see if they're in agreement. Does money need to be spend elsewhere? There's lots of good ideas out there. So come out and have your say. Come forward, have a voice. It's your money being spent."

Council met on January 11 and 12 to discuss budgetary items and strategy.  Some of the key points for the upcoming budget are: work to ensure a sustainable, vibrant economy; develop the airport property and work to improve landing reliability at the West Kootenay Regional Airport.

"I think staff and council have done a very good job at identifying some of the areas," said McIntosh. "There's some regular maintenance stuff like roads and sewers, and some fun stuff like the lazy river (at Millenium Park). So even if you don't want to voice your opinion, at least come out and listen. Read up on what's going on. Be an active participant. Come out and talk to staff and talk to council. If you have any questions just come out and ask."

Some of the projects included in the budget are:

Millennium Park Natural Outdoor Swimming Pool project - $1.2 million; Cycling and pedestrian master plan project on Connors Road - $250,000; South Castlegar Storm Expansion (Phase 3) - $205,000; 9th Avenue storm project - $160,000. The city is also set to complete the Enhanced Streetlight project which has seen the installation of new, more energy efficient street lights. The total cost of the project is $600,000.

The Water Treatment Plant project, which comes in at $1.4 million, is also set to be completed this year. The city received a grant of $760,000 for this project. Also set to be completed in 2013 is the Residential Water Meter program. The cost for the water meters is $600,000 and is fully financed using Community Works (Gas Tax) dollars.

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