Grand Forks city council briefs Aug. 19 – Variance permits, street banners and more

Several stories to come out of the most recent Grand Forks city council meeting

Variance Permit

After hearing from a neighbour at the July 22 council meeting, council agreed to postpone the vote on a motion to approve a variance permit for a property on 12th Street.The complainant and the property owner met with Sasha Bird, Grand Forks manager of development and engineering.Council passed the motion at the Aug. 19 regular meeting.“The motion was passed subject to the conditions that were on there that it would meet the formal character of the neighbourhood,” said Doug Allin, city administrative officer of Grand Forks.“It’s to do with two sea cans. The neighbours were concerned about the aesthetics of it primarily,” said Taylor. “It’s an unusual situation. The variance is to put this garage at the front of the lot because the house is way at the back.”Taylor said the owner has agreed to put a face on the sea can facing the street to make it look more attractive.“They (the home owner) basically came to the resolution that they’ll have the secondary building have the optics of the primary building and the neighbours are okay with that,” said Allin. “It’s a pretty practical solution so it worked out for everybody.”


Street banners

The City of Grand Forks is looking into providing street banners for business after a request from the Downtown Business Association.“The business association asked if they could get street banners for their businesses, and council directed staff to follow up and work with them to develop a policy,” said Allin.The CAO said city staff will meet with the DBA to discuss the details regarding the street banners.The venture is a joint effort between the city, DBA and Boundary Country Chamber of Commerce.

“A business can purchase two banners – one for the winter and one for the summer,” said James Wilson, executive director of the chamber. “They’ll be hung around the community. The banners will have the business names or logos but they’ll have the same colours with new city brand logo.”Wilson said the banner idea is modeled after Chewelah, Washington.


TransCanada Trail

Grand Forks City Council agreed to a motion to provide an additional $68,000 towards the completion of Phase 1 of the Trans Canada Trail. The money came out of the slag fund.“For me, I think trails are a big draw right now for every community,” said Taylor. “Tonight (Aug. 19), the issue of access for people with mobility issues was brought up. While, in fact,most seniors have mobility challenges of some kind. They’re not capable of wilderness travel and that’s what it becomes when trails are over grown. Having it paved will make it accessible to a lot of seniors and a lot of people who have mobility challenges.”Taylor is hoping the RDKB gets on board to help with the trail.“It helps not only the city but the whole region,” he said. “The piece were paving out to the other train bridge is 1/5 city distance and 4/5 regional district.”The total contribution from the City of Grand Forks is $118,000 easily matching and surpassing the contribution from the provincial government of $100,000.“The tender is out and will be closing in a week or so,” said Allin.Construction on Phase 1 is expected to begin in September and be completed in October.“One of the things a project like this does for a community is it allows us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by allowing alternate modes of transportation instead of cars,” said Allin. “It also promotes healthy communities with a safe, walkable environment.”Phase 2 goes from the far bridge to Christina Lake and will cost an estimated $1.5 million.

Craft Beer

A proposal was brought forward to council regarding a craft beer festival in downtown Grand Forks in September.The organizers of the event asked council if they would be interested in closing down a section of Market Avenue in the evening for the festival.The proponents still need to make an official application to the city.


Grand Forks supports Boundary Agricultural Society initiative regarding GE free zone

Grand Forks City Council agreed in principle to support the endeavours and initiatives of the Boundary Regional Agricultural Society with regards to Grand Forks being a genetically engineered (GE)free zone.Gary Smith was the lone councillor to vote against the proposal, stating that the science doesn’t back it up.“To make a decision based on passion is flawed,” he said. “It’s our responsibility as a council to make the best decision for our community based on the facts.”Coun. Cher Wyers said the reason she supported the motion is because she thinks it’s important to have an organization watching over the situation with genetically engineered food.In a letter to the Gazette , Sheila Dobie, chair of the Boundary Regional Agriculture Society, stated: “We believe this is a step in the right direction to make the Boundary region food secure into the future and we appreciated all those who worked on this campaign.”

She also wrote that 522 local citizens signed a petition, which was presented to council at the Aug. 19 Committee of the Whole meeting, in support of the resolution to make Grand Forks a GE free zone.Allin stressed that council did not adopt a food charter or declare Grand Forks a GE free zone, but merely is supporting the initiatives of the society moving forward.


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