St. Mary River access concerns addressed
By Nowell Berg
On November 12, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Jason McBain, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick.
Chief financial officer Jim Hendricks presented to council a financial update (to the end of September).
When it comes to the city’s revenue and expenditures, “There’s really nothing that jumps out as being too far out of line,” said Hendricks.
On the revenue side of the budget, the city is on track to reach the anticipated 2019 revenue of $22.2 million. At this time, the Fire Department revenue is not as high as expected because the Forest Management Grants have not yet been received. “The grant money for that will start to come in in the fourth quarter,” said Hendricks.
Additionally, the Bootleg Gap Golf Course and Riverside Campground revenue “is not recognized until later on in the year.”
On the expenditure side of the budget, “We’re below budget, about 68% over-all,” said Hendricks. So far, the Resort Municipality Initiative Funding has yet to be spent along with payment for police service which will be done before the end of the year.
In terms of capital expenditures, “The prime construction season for large projects is the third quarter. The billings for those will come in in the fourth quarter.”
St. Mary River Access
Local resident Bob Reid made a presentation to council regarding access to St. Mary River. In his short address, Reid pointed out that traveling along the waterway was a hidden gem in Kimberley, providing lots of recreational and sporting opportunities.
Over the past 20-years Reid has been rafting, canoeing or kayaking the river, he pointed out accessing the river has become more problematic, falling in a legal gray area.
He mentioned the impending sale of the campground, which currently provides relatively easy access to the river, and the possibility that new private owners would seal-off transiting through the campground to access the river.
Reid’s second concern is the location for exiting the river at or near the sewage treatment plant. “The challenge is always, can you get out of your boat onto the ground without touching the water?” he stated. Signs in the area warn of effluent in the water.
With planning underway for a new wastewater treatment plant at the same location, Reid raised the issue of the project potentially reducing or eliminating the opportunity to ingress or egress from the river.
In responding to Reid, Mayor McCormick said he was “preaching to the converted” as council was aware of the importance of the river and access to it, not only for local residents but tourists as well.
Troy Pollack, Manager Planning, commented about the campground sale, saying the city was currently working to “secure a pedestrian right-of-way” through the campground to the parkland and trails along the river before it goes up for sale.
Responding to the concern about the wastewater treatment plant, chief administrative officer Scott Sommerville said, “I’m familiar with the diapers and broccoli smell” in that area. He added, “The health of the river is very important to the city. The quality of effluent we are planning on putting out from the new wastewater treatment plant should be substantially better than what’s going in there now.”
Sommerville also noted the reason the city wants to sell non-core assets is “to fundraise for our portion of the new plant.” He noted the total cost is between $40 and $50 million “right now.”
Coun. Roberts also pointed out, “Just about everything we decide here has the underlying understanding that tourism is a major income generator for the entire community and we are not going to do anything on any level that puts the boots to that.”
Summing up, Reid said, “People don’t want to see the river over-crowded. It’s great for tourists, it’s a great draw. I think if it gets too crowded it will be terrible. It’s a real issue and I think there will be real emotions and that’s something to watch out for.”
Annual Water Quality Report
Senior Manager, Operations, Chris Mummery presented to council the annual drinking water quality report. The city contracts Aqua-Tex ($47,000 per year) to monitor the Mark and Mathew Creek watersheds, conduct water sampling and testing, and report on the quality of raw source water.
According to Mummery, “The test results indicate that both Mark and Matthew Creek met all standards under the BC Drinking Water Protection Regulation.”
One of Aqua-Tex’s 11 recommendations concerns working with BC Timber Sales to stabilize the eroding slope upstream of the second bridge on Mark Creek. “That has remarkably stabilized itself a significant amount in the last year,” said Mummery.
On that topic, McCormick asked, “What will BC Timber Sales do to ensure it [the slope slumping into Mark Creek during freshet] doesn’t happen?”
Mummery replied, “It’s a tricky scenario in that particular location. Sometimes getting in there and playing around with it is not as successful as leaving it alone and letting nature do its thing.”
Skeptical about leaving slope stability to nature, McCormick asked what the implications of the worst case would be. Mummery said if the bank was to erode and fall into the creek, “it would cause a spike in turbidity in the water.”
He further pointed out that it would be the “safest type of turbidity you could have. It’s just silt and not organics.”
“I’m going to vote against this. I don’t support a lot of the points that are on this [the report]. They [the recommendations] should have happened many, many years ago,” said Coun. Oakley. He added, “One thing that irritates me the most is that BC Timber Sales…is not responsible for treatment of the water, if necessary.”
He went on to say that any disruption to water quality caused by Timber Sales activity means “the taxpayers of Kimberley will be held accountable for that. And, that just drives me crazy.”
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m., open to the public.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be November 25 at City Hall.
Lead image: The St. Mary River rolling past Riverside Campground. e-KNOW file photo