Over 100 people showed up for Monday’s city council meeting. The meeting was the longest, as well as the best attended meeting anyone on council can remember.
Several different emotional issues were responsible for drawing out the standing room only crowd. The drama began even before the meeting was called to order when city workers in CUPE T-shirts presented council with a letter of clarification further explaining their position in the ongoing labour dispute.
On a brighter note, the Communities in Bloom Committee was present with Castlegar’s newly won award in the international category for communities with populations under 10,000. On behalf of the city, Mayor Chernoff presented Chairman Darlene Kalawsky with a certificate and flowers to show appreciation for all of her efforts.
The bulk of the meeting was taken up by the question period following a presentation by Mike LoVecchio, Director of Government Affairs for CP Rail. As Mr. LoVecchio gave his presentation, Mayor Chernoff had to call the crowd to order several times. Mr. LoVecchio stated, “We made the decision to change the operations locally to improve efficiency. The change in service does provide better asset use for us.”
The often emotional comments and questions from 21 different speakers lasted for over an hour and a half. Heard repeatedly from Mr. Lovecchio was the statement that CP Rail is a 24/7 operation. This hard line response was his answer to the repeated complaints of the nighttime disruptions caused by the new schedule. He did present a plan that would allow for cessation of the whistles, but would require installation of lights and gates at all crossings and require the city to release CP Rail from liability.
After a brief recess, the meeting resumed and the remainder of the meeting consisted of usual council business.
The 2015 Property Tax Exemption Bylaw was passed with the same list of properties from last year receiving tax exempt status. Council also voted to spend $800 from the advertising budget to purchase an ad and home game sponsorship package in the Selkirk Saints Men’s Hockey Program.
A grant application for Emily Ashton was approved in the amount of $100 to assist with costs associated with travel to represent Castlegar at the British Association of Teachers of Dancing North American Sadie Simpson Highland Scholarship Competition.
A contract was awarded to McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. to develop a Street Tree Master Plan. The $37,361 will come from the Climate Action Reserve Fund.