CASTLEGAR COUNCIL BRIEFS: New reporting requirements for conferences

Council looks at downtown area plan, airport parking and Columbia Ave. update.

Castlegar city council passed a motion Monday that will require any councillor or mayor who attends out-of-town events to submit detailed reports from those events.

The new policy will include conferences, trade seminars, meetings, workshops and training sessions.

The motion was brought forward by councillor Florio Vassilakakis after controversy arose when Mayor Bruno Tassone and councillor Cheryl Macleod declined to provide council with a detailed accounting of their activities at a conference during a recent council meeting.

Vassilakakis’ motion reads in part, “Whereas the public funds the costs associated with attending the aforementioned events, it is important to show the public that the tax dollars invested in the professional development of council is valuable … it is important to build public trust and be transparent.”

From now on, travelling councillors will have to submit detailed reports within 30 days.

Downtown area plan

The development of an area plan for the downtown area is one step closer after council awarded a consulting contract Monday.

CTQ Consultants will work with city staff to develop a plan that will guide downtown development.

Revitalizing the downtown has been identified in the city’s official community plan as a priority.

The plan will address a wide range of issues beyond commercial development. It will look at streetscapes, property improvements, signage, parking, traffic, economic strategy, attractiveness, mixed-use developments and public spaces.

The public can expect a chance to provide input into the plan in the coming months.

CAO Chris Barlow says the time is right for the plan.

“We are starting to see a resurgence downtown, not just in business, but in arts and culture as well,” said Barlow. “We want to understand the objectives and make sure the city and the business community is aligned so we can support that resurgence.”

Columbia Avenue Phase 1 update

Some work has taken place on the outstanding items on the Columbia Avenue redevelopment project in the last few weeks, bringing the project closer to completion.

City staff report that MarWest has now received some materials needed to complete projects including bus shelter glass, stone pillars for sculptures that will be placed in the boulder sections, and fountains.

City staff will take care of moving the existing bus shelter benches from the centre of the shelter to closer to the side in order to make room to accommodate wheelchairs.

The city is hoping the entire project will be complete by the end of the first week of July.

RELATED: Castlegar council losing patience with Columbia Ave. contractor

Airport parking fees

Parking fees at the West Kootenay Regional Airport will likely go up this summer.

Castlegar council passed three readings updating the bylaw that sets parking fees at the airport.

Parking rates at the airport have been the same since 2002.

The city says the proposed increases will be in line with other similar sized airports in the province.

Half-hour fees will increase from 50 cents to $1, and daily parking fees from $5 to $8. It will also provide for longer-term rates of $50 per week, $195 per month and $800 per year.

The increased fees would take effect around the same time that a new modern payment system is expected to go online. The system will include a smart phone app and will take debit, credit and cash payments.

City council also got a glimpse at the new airport master plan and the city’s annual report. Expect full articles on those topics at Castlegar News in the coming days.

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