Castlegar Council revises grants policy and passes business license bylaw

Castlegar city council votes to participate in inter-community business license program and wood stove rebate program.

Council voted to enact a new grants policy at Monday’s city council meeting. The current city budget has $9000 available annually for grants in aid.

The new policy will be focused on approving grants for initiatives and events that take place in Castlegar with the idea that keeping Castlegar taxpayers’ money in the city to benefit the local economy is a better option than the old policy, which saw a fair bit of the grant’s budget given to those travelling out of town for events such as sports tournaments.

Sports teams would still be able to apply for grants that would support events they hold in Castlegar, including a fundraising event to raise funds for tournament travel.

The new policy includes the addition of four intake deadlines — Feb. 12, May 15, Aug. 15 and Nov. 17 for 2017. Grants will only be awarded to non-profit organizations and will not be given to individuals.

Councillor Bruno Tassone voted against the policy, mainly because he did not like the change eliminating travel grants.

Councillor Dan Rye, who is on the committee that drafted the policy, explained that changes to the grant policy have been requested by councillors for several years now and by the public. “I have had people comment to me that they think the money should stay in town — both people and businesses,” said Rye. “It is local taxpayer’s dollars and I think it should stay in Castlegar.”

Councillors Florio Vassilikakis, Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff and Deb McIntosh thought it was a good idea to give the new policy a try. “The grants policy itself has been debated every year since I have been around,” said McIntosh. “I think in all fairness, we have to give the new policy a shot. There is no reason why at the end of next year we can’t revisit it again and see if there is a better way to do it.”

Councillor Arry Dhillon voted against the policy, preferring a broad policy that allows the committee to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Inter-community business license

Council adopted a bylaw to participate in the new inter-community business license program.

The two-year pilot project will offer businesses that have a physical location or main base for their business in one municipality, but carry on work in neighbouring municipalities, the opportunity to purchase a special business license that would allow them to work in all the participating municipalities. Primarily, target participants include contractors, caterers and similar mobile businesses. Previously, a business owner had to purchase a license in each of the communities in which they wanted to work. Nelson, Creston, Rossland and Kaslo have also signed on to participate in the program.

The fee for an inter-community business licence will be $85 and is separate and additional to any regular business licence fee that may be required.

Trade Show

Council has decided to spend $300 to register for a booth at the West Kootenay Trade Show to be held in April at the Castlegar & District Community Complex. Council plans to use the booth to provide an opportunity for council members to distribute information and discuss various City of Castlegar projects, initiatives and general information with trade show attendees.

Wood stove rebate

Castlegar will once again be participating the the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s (RDCK) wood stove exchange program. The program is part of a provincial initiative to encourage homeowners to replace their inefficient wood stoves with cleaner burning appliances that emit less pollutants.

The RDCK receives provincial funds to provide $350 rebates to residents in rural areas. In order for residents in urban areas to qualify, their local municipality must participate in the program and supply $100 towards the rebate.

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