Grand Forks City Council met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, rather than on Monday due to the Thanksgiving statutory holiday.
Council unanimously voted the first three readings of bylaw No. 2018—2016 permissive tax exemptions.
Nine churches in Grand Forks are exempted at an estimated value of $1,783.77 in 2016.
There are also several recreational and non-profit organizations exempt from the payment of expected city property taxes including: Grand Forks Curling Club (estimated 2016 property taxes exempted $8,457.01), Grand Forks Masonic Building Society ($387.41), and Royal Canadian Legion ($3,831.54).
Council voted unanimously to approve the strata conversion application of a commercial/residential building located at 7330 Riverside Drive.
Valley Heights Development made the application for preliminary approval of a strata conversion for four apartments upstairs and three commercial units on the ground floor.
The backgrounder states that the property is designated as being commercial/downtown heritage development permit area and zoned commercial core. The building is considered “existing non-conforming” in that the apartments upstairs are 50 per cent of the building and the current zoning bylaw for the commercial core states that not more than 30 per cent of the principal building shall be used for apartments.
“The applicant has gone through extensive renovations,” said Sasha Bird, manager of development and engineering for Grand Forks. “They have provided the required documentation including the site one profile and everything that’s required by the Strata Act.”
Development Variance Permit
In conjunction with the strata conversation application, council also unanimously approved an application for a development variance permit at 7330 Riverside Drive.
The permit would allow an increase in the ratio of apartment to the principal building from 30 per cent to 50 per cent to allow for the current four apartments upstairs to remain and to comply with the zoning bylaw.
Councillor Krog brought forward the motion and commented, “To take that building and create what is there now from what was there before is pretty impressive and that’s just the initiative we need in this community.”
Ticketing amendment deferred
Council deferred the final reading of the municipal ticketing and information bylaw amendment due to the fact that there was a schedule missing in the agenda.
The motion, which would allow better control and enforcement of the watering restrictions bylaw, will be voted on at the next council meeting.
Water meter bylaw deferred
Council once again deferred a decision on final reading for the water regulations bylaw because they wanted to wait until they had everyone at council (Chris Hammett was absent). The bylaw would extend the timelines for water meter installations without penalty to Dec. 31, 2015 and cleans up some language and billing concerns.
Council planned to vote on final reading at the next regular meeting; however, they were notified by Councillor Ross that she would be missing the next two meetings.
The motion will be brought forward again for final reading at the Nov. 30 regular council meeting.
Election bylaw approved
In preparation for the upcoming by-election necessitated by the resignation of councillor Michael Wirischagin, council unanimously approved existing bylaw No. 1999 as the elections procedure bylaw. The city is legislatively obligated to have an elections procedure bylaw in place at least six weeks prior to the start of the nomination period.
The cost of the byelection is estimated at approximately $8,000 to $10,000.
Councillor Neil Krog, council representative for the Regional District of Kootenay Bundary (RDKB), gave a verbal report on the RDKB. Krog stated he attended a BEDC (Boundary Economic Development Committee) meeting in Grand Forks on Oct. 6.
Krog said there were several topics discussed including the Rural Dividend, which was announced at the UBCM and gives up to $75 million to communities under 25,000 for transitioning their economies.
“We will be talking further about how that is going to roll out in Grand Forks,” he said at council.
Another focus at the BEDC was trails. “We’re trying to implement a region-wide trails strategy with a region-wide trails master plan,” said Krog.
Krog said the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) was the “poster child” for trails and that the RDKB would be studying their success.
“They have an extensive regional trail system in the RDOS,” he said. “It’s a true regional one in which all municipalities and electoral areas participate in. They did an comprehensive trails master plan as well.”
Krog said the trails plan cost the RDOS $50,000 in 2011 and included extensive consultation.
“A big part of it is conflict resolution,” he said. “It usually goes back to the landowners with people on their land. It’s also the interaction, positive or negative, between motorized (ATVs), people walking, whether it should be paved, and also the horse people.”
Krog said the RDKB board would like to see a master plan for the trails as well as complete mapping, and possibly an app for phone/tablet.
Krog also noted that he had talked with Alan Stanley, RDKB manager of environmental services, who asked if the city had found an alternate site for the recycling bins at the fire hall.
“The fact that the new fire truck is here, they’re looking at removing the bins so they can have the access,” said Krog. “I know the fire department is anxious to be able to access the lot properly. As per right now I haven’t been able to find any site that would be suitable for the taxpayers of Grand Forks to pay above what we already pay for waste management.”
In his written report to council, Mayor Frank Konrad stated that on Sept. 12 he and his wife attended the Cops for Kids Ride dinner at Omega Restaurant.
He said, “It was an honour to have been invited representing the city and being able to realize that another great group of people are doing so much for our communities.”
Konrad noted he attended the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Vancouver from Sept. 20-26. “What an interesting, informative time it was,” he wrote. “This being my first time to UBCM it gave me a real overview of how our higher level of the B.C. government operates.”
Councillor Christine Thompson wrote in her report to council that she attended meetings of the Transition Housing Project Steering Committee on Sept. 15 and 16.
“The work of the committee is coming along nicely and a report to council will be forthcoming fairly soon,” she said.
Thompson, along with councillors Ross and Hammett and CAO Doug Allin, also attended UBCM.
Thompson said that council met with Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, on the Monday (Sept. 21) and made a presentation requesting that senior government consider grant funding to support the city’s asset management program. “I believe that Mr. Allin’s presentation was very well received by the minister and his senior staff,” wrote Thompson.
The following day, Thompson said she also meeting with Neil Muth, president and CEO of Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and representatives from RKDB Area D/Rural Grand Forks, Greenwood and Midway. “We were advised that while CBT is not able to assist communities in the Boundary with capital projects, they could offer support and assistance where there are partnerships,” she wrote.
Thompson also reported that on the final day of the conference (Sept. 25), she presented Grand Forks’ resolution B102 dealing with marijuana derivatives. She was pleased to report that it was was overwhelmingly supported.
Ross wrote that she continues to meet with concerned citizens regarding water quality and impact of livestock in the Kettle and Granby Rivers.
She would like to see the environment committee continue to work with appropriate groups and organizations in preparation for 2016 Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) AGM and UBCM AGM in order to bring a collective resolution forward.
Ross attended several sessions at UBCM including Building and Protecting Green Communities and Making the Most of the Backcountry.
On the Green Communities session she wrote, “Lots of very good ideas around how to manage infrastructure under stresses of climate chaos. Every community needs to have an action plan which includes protecting natural resources, mitigating climate change starting at home.”
The next meeting of Grand Forks City Council is Monday, Oct. 26—that will be a regular meeting only, not a Committees of the Whole.