Castlegar council rents out airport hangar and takes next step towards allowing chickens and bees in town

Council leases West Kootenay Regional Airport hangar and asks staff to develop pilot projects for backyard chickens and bees.

After much discussion, a decision was made to lease an airport hangar (previously known as the Selkirk Hangar) at the West Kootenay Regional Airport to Dam Helicopters. The decision was tabled at the last council meeting as Councilor Heaton-Shertobitoff requested more details and information regarding the costs of lease improvements.

The hangar has been empty since the Selkirk aviation program ceased in the spring of 2014. The building is in need of some significant repairs including the heating system, a major crack in the floor and doors that do not close properly.

Some of the concerns discussed were the costs of the repairs and the clause in the lease that will see those costs deducted from the rent payments. The discussion also included who will be responsible for approving any repairs and what happens if the repairs go over the total value of the lease.

“I have a worry that it is going to be a significant amount of money and the rental is not going to cover it,” said Councillor Heaton-Sherstobitoff. “I want to know how much all of this is going to cost so we are not giving something away.”

CAO John Malcolm explained that like all other city owned properties, city staff would oversee approval of repairs as long as they were with in the budgeted amount. Any costs that would go over the budget would need to come before council for approval.

The lease is for 10 years at $4,380 per year. Dam Helicopter submitted the only tender for using the space, even though it was advertised through BCBid.

In support of the lease, Councillor Florio Vassilakakis, who was attending the meeting via video link from Greece stated, “We want to support the airport and this is a good way to do that.”

The lease states that improvements that only benefit the tenant, and not the city, would not be eligible for the deduction in rent. It was also pointed out that the lease also includes a without-cause termination clause, which keeps the city in control.

“Dam Helicopters is an expanding business,” said Councillor Dan Rye. “I agree that the rent is not very much, but it is better than what we are getting now.”

Also noted was that as the business grows, the potential for more take off and landing fees will also grow, providing for a secondary stream of revenue from the arrangement.

At the end of the discussion, councillors Heaton-Sherstobitoff and Tassone voted against the measure.

Rebels sponsorship

Castlegar is once again sponsoring the Castlegar Rebels through the purchase of a silver sponsorship package. The package will cost $900 and include a wall board sign, a half -page advertisement in the Rebels’ program, web broadcast, a logo on website advertisements, a PA announcement at each game and 30 tickets. The tickets will be dispersed to youth in the community. The money will come from the city’s advertising budget.

Plans for coops and hives will move forward

Other agenda items that brought forth a lot of discussion were the two motions regarding whether or not to allow for backyard chicken coops and bee hives within the city.

The general consensus was that most councillors were in favour of moving forward by instructing staff to develop plans for pilot projects that would be for a set period of time — between 12 and 18 months — and with strict restrictions in order to see how the program will work before making a permanent bylaw change.

Restrictions such as the number of participants, yard size, set backs, licensing and fencing requirements will all be looked at.

“I feel that if we were to put in a very strict policy regarding chickens, work with WildSafeBC … I think we would have a very successful program,” said the proposal’s strongest proponent, Councillor Deb McIntosh.

After the discussion, Mayor Chernoff voted against developing a chicken pilot project, while the rest of council voted in favour of it. All of council voted in favour of developing a pilot project for beekeepers.

Library requests consideration in 2017 budget

Katrina Vermette and Heather Maisel from the Castlegar and District Library made a presentation to council requesting that council consider including $175,000 in next year’s budget towards the renovation of the library’s basement.

The library’s board has been researching the need for this project for a while, including consultations with the public through surveys, meetings with user groups and patron input. The conclusion is that the current basement configuration lacks functionality and is not truly accessible as the weight limit on the current wheelchair lift prohibits anyone with a motorized wheelchair from using it.

The plan provides for more meeting spaces that could be used by small groups like clubs, boards, study groups and small businesses. Quiet reading spaces and an improved technology lab are also in the plans.

The amount requested represents about one-third of the project budget and potential funding partners include RDCK Areas H, I and J and Columbia Basin Trust. The library delegation was simply asking council to consider it in their 2017 budget process, so there was no vote or discussion of the matter other than a few questions from councillors.

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