From new equipment purchases for the West Kootenay Regional Airport to rainbow-coloured crosswalks, the agenda of the City of Castlegar council meeting on Monday, Oct. 21 was an eclectic mix of issues:
– Council authorized the purchase of three pieces of equipment for the West Kootenay Regional Airport. A Runway Condition Reporting System and Safety Management System ($36,950), an airport snowblower ($370,433) and a runway sweeper ($254,200). The city expects to receive approximately $723,500 in funding from the Airport Capital Assistance Program from Transport Canada.
– Both Katrine Conroy, MLA, and Alex Atamanenko, MP, provided letters of support for a request from the Pass Creek Regional Exhibition Society for funding for the annual fair of $4,000 each from the city, and RDCK areas I and J for a total of $12,000. Coun. Deb McIntosh said the facility has a proven track record over the past 19 years and is an asset to the community. The recreation committee will review the request.
– Council authorized the formation of the Castlegar Fibre Optic Broadband Committee with Everett Surgenor appointed as chair. About nine years ago, the city acquired approximately 14 kilometres of fibre optics and has used it to connect numerous public buildings such as City Hall, Fire Hall, Public Works, Library and Airport. The committee will serve in an advisory capacity to council and work with the Columbia Basin Trust and Columbia Basin Broadband Committee to bring more connectivity opportunities to Castlegar.
– In another tech move, council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing staff to negotiate an agreement with Shaw Communications for a full public access WiFi system at locations throughout the city including: City Hall, Station Museum, Castlegar & District Recreation Centre, Kootenay Gallery of Art, History and Science, Zuckerberg Island, Doukhobor Discovery Centre, Kinsmen Park and Millennium Park.
– A 3rd street crosswalk near West’s Department Store will be painted in a rainbow pattern. Mayor Chernoff cited financial concerns in his opposition to the proposal while Coun. Gordon Turner felt the community was already inclusive and didn’t need a sidewalk to represent that. The rest of council voted for the approximately $2,500 installation. Coun. Deb McIntosh commented that she had “never been more proud” and took issue with mention of the cost — which may come in lower than estimated — saying council had no issue in approving $45,000 for a beautification project involving coloured LED lights on the Kinnaird overpass.
– Another item that generated a significant amount of discussion involved the Nuisance Sign Bylaw. Coun. McIntosh felt it was “ridiculous” temporary signs currently have a 60 day limit, essentially meaning someone could take down a temporary sign after this time, only to put it back up a day later. She suggested those placing temporary signs be able to apply for an extension.
– Resident Cord Lafond, who rents a property on 2nd Avenue, spoke to council regarding ongoing issues with maintenance of the property. Lafond presented a package of information including photos to show that he had put in “hundred of hours” attempting to clean up the property and was looking for some kind of variance before the city stepped in to do the work and send a bill. Lafond felt the Property Maintenance Bylaw should not be complaint driven and that he was being held to a higher standard than other nearby neighbours. He was granted an extension until the end of November to bring the property into compliance.
– In question period, resident Rudiger Clauss spoke passionately about the approval of the rainbow crosswalk, stating it was a “political move” and there was “no reason to single out one group.” He also said there were more important things to be talking about. As he has done previously, Clauss also stated his opposition to smart meter installations, which are now nearly complete in the city. He feels the meters may be able to be accessed by criminals, something utility providers strongly deny.
– Lafond also stepped to the microphone to address the issue of the rainbow crosswalk, wondering if council was able to take cost out of the equation by having groups who requested painted crosswalks come up with the money.
The full agenda, and minutes of past meetings, can be viewed online at www.castlegar.ca or are available by visiting Castlegar City Hall at 460 Columbia Avenue.
The next meeting will be held Monday, November 4 at 7 p.m. at the Community Forum.