Discussion on birds and bees to move forward in Castlegar

Castlegar city council meeting produces progress on animal bylaws, Columbia Ave. redevelopment, construction contracts and truck purchase.

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More than 30 people and one chicken showed up at the city council meeting held on Sept. 5. Most of them were there to find out more about the city’s plans to revisit the animal control bylaw forbidding the keeping of chickens and bees in the city.

Nette Lack, president of the West Kootenay Bee Keepers, spoke to council encouraging them to allow for honey bees within the city. She also addressed some of the concerns that people often voice about having bees in their neighbourhood.

Council did not actually hold a discussion on the topic however, as the proposal is not yet at that stage. The agenda item for this meeting was just to vote on a notice of motion to reconsider the bylaw. The yes vote council gave will now move the motion forward for discussion and consideration. The next steps will be for the planning committee and staff to consider the options as well as pros and cons and produce reports for council to consider.

“The bee crisis is real and we need to start doing something about it,” said Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff, who is in favour of changing the bylaw, in an interview after the meeting.

Anyone who would like to weigh in on the matter can submit letters to mayor and council through the city’s webpage or directly to City Hall. “We always look forward to people emailing us or sending letters to mayor and council,” said Heaton-Sherstibitoff.

Columbia Ave. redevelopment update

An updated version of the Columbia Ave. redevelopment project as well as a feedback form is now available on the city’s website http://www.castlegar.ca/notice.php?id=465. The update shows some new cross sections so people can better visualize the plans including what a bicycle lane on both sides of the street would look like. This is in response to some community feedback requesting that the option of two lanes be looked into. Some residents had concerns over the separated two-way cycle track on one side of the road found in the original plan.

If the city were to go ahead with a bike lane on both sides of the street, land would have to be expropriated from eight properties, increasing the cost of the project and potentially lengthening project timelines. Cost increases for the two-lane option are estimated at $100,000 to $200,000 for property acquisition and an additional $290,000 in construction costs.

A large portion — two thirds — of the project funding will come from the Build Canada grant program, if the city is successful in its bid for a grant. Since the current grant application does not include the changes, if the city were to go ahead with the two bike lane option the additional cost would have to be completely covered by the city, or covered by reductions in other parts of the plan, pending approval of the grant authorities.

Contracts awarded

The contract to complete the Bridge to Bridge Pathway project was awarded to Maglio Installations for $171,636. Project funding includes a $79,679 grant from BikeBC. The pathway will connect the existing Connors Rd. path just after it crosses the off-ramp bridge by the Chamber of Commerce, and then it will descend on an angle across the highway slope but will connect with the highway shoulder path near the base of the railroad bridge. From there, commuters would ride or walk on the existing highway shoulder to the Kinnaird Bridge allowing commuters from the college and Ootischenia to safely connect to the existing pathway network. A railing will be installed to create a barrier between pedestrians and cyclists and the existing highways ditch.

Maglio Installations was also awarded the contract to extend water main service at the airport lands. The extension will support existing buildings and operations but will also provide service for future development. The contract is valued at $535,517.

Truck purchase

Castlegar will be purchasing a $93,750, 2017 Dodge 5500 single cab, 4×4 truck, including a HIAB Multilift XR5 hook-lift system and 10 ft. flat deck built on a XR5 sub frame. The purchase was planned for in the city’s 2016 budget and will replace a 1990 one-ton flat deck.

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