Lowest cost fire protection; Alpenglow redux
By Nowell Berg
On July 9, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kent Goodwin, Albert Hoglund, Nigel Kitto, Bev Middlebrook, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick.
Alpenglow Court redux
Elaborating on his request, Mayor McCormick wanted council to re-visit the variance request because there was not a “full contingent of councilors” at the last meeting. He added that the development variance proponent should get a “fair evaluation” when all councilors are present.
With several Alpenglow residents in attendance, Mayor McCormick explained that “this is not a public hearing. This is for council discussion” and, as such, residents would not be allowed to comment or ask questions until question period at the end of the meeting.
“If anyone is going to be overly emotional and interrupt the discussion [by councilors], you will be asked to leave the council chamber,” said McCormick. He then opened the floor for council discussion.
First to comment was Coun. Hoglund: “I’ll be voting against this because we heard from the gallery at the last meeting…100% of the sub-division doesn’t want the variance.” He went on to say that council must listen to the people and “we would be remiss to over turn this [the defeat of the variance at the last meeting].”
Coun. Roberts, who was absent from the last meeting, spoke with all the people who were involved with the recommendation to fully understand the issue. She added, “I will be voting against the variance and in support of the homeowners largely because the developer has many, many other options.”
Coun. Goodwin maintained his opposition to the variance. He said, “If we push this through and go forward with it we’re sending a very bad signal to every other neighbourhood in Kimberley that we’re not going to listen to you. The people who live there [Alpenglow] don’t want it and that’s why we need to turn this down.”
Coun. Middlebrook commented on the need for “peace and harmony and getting along with neighbours.” If the variance were allowed it would create a significant amount of “animosity” between existing residents, the developer and any people moving into the new homes. “I’ll be voting against this again,” she said.
Coun. Kitto said he was in favour of the variance because “the OCP talks about in-fill housing and mixed density throughout the city.” He noted the future of the city is “small homes on smaller envelopes that are more energy efficient.” He added, the argument to have all the houses look the same “doesn’t ring true” as there are areas in town that have mixed housing sizes and styles.
On his turn, Coun. Oakley said, “I supported this because I believe in the OCP and planning department process, that it was good and healthy. I agree with Coun. Kitto. I think it would be a nice development and beautiful development. It’s a stunning neighbourhood and not matter what happens here it will still be that.”
In his concluding comments, Mayor McCormick said, “The in-fill strategy… rejuvenates certain neighbourhoods, it adds to other neighbourhoods. They [in-fill homes] augment what is already in place.”
He added that at this stage of the development process there was no idea what actually would be built on the land as the developer had not submitted final plans that would be done when they request a building permit. The city employs professional planners to work with the developer to make sure “there is a fit for the neighbourhood. Idon’t think that anything the proponent is doing will negatively affect” Alpenglow.
The vote was taken and the variance request was defeated four votes to three. Mayor McCormick, Coun. Kitto and Coun. Oakley voted for the variance while Coun. Goodwin, Coun. Hoglund, Coun. Middlebrook and Coun. Roberts voted against it.
Tax exemption proposed for affordable housing project
Council voted to direct city staff to prepare the necessary changes to the Permissive Property Tax Exemption Bylaw that will see the Kimberley Seniors Project Society (KSPS) receive a property tax exemption for the Church Avenue affordable housing project.
Mayor McCormick reported to council the total cost of the project is around $3.8 million with $2.8 million coming from BC Housing. The remainder would be a $1 million mortgage held by the KSPS.
CFO Jim Hendricks’s report to council indicates the KSPS is requesting a tax exemption for 100% of the assessed value of land and improvements for a 10-year period. His report says the amount of deferred tax would be just over $27,000 per year.
Council expects to finalize the tax exemption request at a meeting in the near future.
Kimberley Fire Department saves you money
Rick Prasad, Fire Chief, presented a report to council from the Fire Chief’s Association of British Columbia (FCABC) 2016 Comparative Analysis that outlines the financial impact of the Kimberley Fire Department (KFD).
In 2016, the KFD’s operating cost was “$609,697 or a per person cost of $86.48,” said Prasad. This is the lowest cost per person compared to any other Kootenay community over 2,500 population.
The FCABC’s report notes the cost per person for the Cranbrook Fire Department, in 2016, was just over $166. The highest cost per person was the City of Fernie Fire Department at $277.51.
The FCABC report estimates that, in Kimberley, “residents and businesses have realized structure and dwelling insurance savings of $2.97 million or $421 per person.”
Prasad added, “Combining each person’s insurance savings with the operating cost of the fire department, Kimberley’s residents actually avoided paying $335 per year by having the fire department operating at the current level of service.” [$421 – $86 = $335]
Prasad also reported on KFD activities for 2018 Q2 (April to June). He said, “Q2 2018 saw a decrease in alarms from Q2 2017, 49 vs 64.”
Calls for first aid (city employees only), back yard burn complaints and ambulance assists saw a decrease compared to 2017.
KFD handled an “increase in automatic alarms, motor vehicle accidents, carbon monoxide alarms and structure fires. At the end of Q2 the total annual call number was 100,” he said.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly. All meetings start at 7 p.m. and are open to the public.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for July 23.