Florio Vassilakakis was sworn in as Castlegar’s newest councillor during the regular council meeting held at the Community Forum on Monday, Oct. 7.
He will be the chair of public safety, deputy chair of cultural and civic ride and will also sit on the emergency planning committee.
Vassilakakis, as well as a number of smiling family and friends in attendance, were warmly received by the rest of council and city staff.
Other highlights from the meeting:
– Audrey Polovnikoff and Val Field gave a presentation to council regarding the affairs of the Kootenay Gallery. Polovinikoff said the gallery is looking at moving the facility to a higher profile property and that process will be done in a step-by-step fashion with public consultation. She said everything from fundraising to input from other communities will be taken into account. She said the gallery is in a healthy financial situation currently and has great staff and community partnerships. Councillors Deb McIntosh, Dan Rye and Kevin Chernoff spoke highly of the ongoing work of the gallery.
-Deb McIntosh requested city CAO John Malcolm provide information to residents, in light of a letter to the editor that appeared in the Castlegar News, as to the need for a new deputy corporate services director. Malcolm explained that succession planning is important for any large corporation and that there will be two or three retirements at the city in the next few years. Hiring for the position now is a key step in planning for the transition.
-An electric vehicle charging station that Mayor Chernoff won for the city in 2012 may be on the chopping block. Coun. Chernoff said they are requesting staff look at selling the station as the installation costs were deemed too high. A local, unnamed hotel may be interested in purchasing it.
-There were six new business licences in September, with year-to-date totals at 632 compared with last years mark of 663.
-Coun. Chernoff reported the LED streetlight conversion program is nearing completion and about 90 per cent of the brighter, whiter, more energy-efficient lights have been installed in the city.
-Coun. McIntosh said, “It’s definitely coming” when asked about the installation of a rainbow coloured crosswalk. Coun. Chernoff said that the intention was to bring a resolution forward during the meeting but they wanted to get the wording right and will likely bring it forward at the next council meeting. Coloured crosswalks have been something done in other cities as a visual reminder of inclusivity of all people, with a particular focus on the LGBTQ community.
-A $77,471 contract was awarded to Venture Mechanical Systems for a contract to address concerns with a pressure release valve in the 1600 block of Columbia Avenue. The equipment is a key piece of the water transfer system and the work done over about four weeks will potentially reduce energy use while making workers safer in a confined space.
-Council agreed with a report from city staff recommending subsidies for the FortisBC Kootenay Energy Diet be increased from 50 to 100. Additional $25 rebates will be given to 26 residents who enrolled in the energy-reduction program after the previous maximum of 50 was reached. Home energy assessments are done at a cost of just $35 (normally a value of $400) and those enrolled also have access to energy efficient products, FortisBC rebates and low-interest loans for home upgrades through a local credit union.
“You really can’t go wrong with this,” said Coun. Chernoff, who has had the assessment done on his home. “I’d encourage people to take advantage of it.”
-In question period, Suzanne Lehbauer, executive director of the Castlegar Hospice Society, gave a heartfelt thanks to council, volunteers, and everyone involved in the community who have helped move the society closer to its goal of having a stand-alone, regional hospice facility built in Castlegar. The city is making preparations to offer two lots to the society for that purpose.