Transit ridership up, expansion in 2019
By Nowell Berg
On June 11, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councilors Kent Goodwin, Albert Hoglund, Bev Middlebrook, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick. Coun. Nigel Kitto was absent.
Transit ridership up, expansion in 2019
According to Pollock, “Transit ridership has been increasing for the last five years.” It has risen from just over 14,000 in 2013 to almost 22,000 in 2017, a 53% increase.
Looking at 2018, “We’re well ahead of the pace for last year,” said Pollock. He expects the historic trend to continue into the future.
Pollock’s report also states, “The new KC Commuter service has been very successful average (sic) 20 riders per day.”
Two concerns with the commuter service raised by riders deal with inquiries into “Monday daytime service and additional commuter service.”
Right now the Monday daytime service to Cranbrook is not the same as the Tuesday to Friday service. Pollock proposes an expansion of commuter service on Monday by adding three daytime trips so as to match the rest of the week.
The cost of expanding Monday service would be less than $7,500 per year, but would not start until September 2019.
The other proposal Pollock presented was the possibility of adding one morning and one afternoon trip to the commuter service each weekday. The current late afternoon bus departs Cranbrook around 4:30 p.m., which poses a problem for those who don’t leave work until 5 p.m.
This option to expand the commuter service would require one additional bus at a cost of just over $34,000 each year.
Pollock also said that if adding a bus was not an option for Council, then the schedule can be “tweaked” to better serve those people who require a bus after 5 p.m.
Mayor McCormick said the one concern he’s heard over and over is the lack of commuter service trips on Monday’s. He said dealing with the Monday issue and expanding commuter service hours would “hit the sweet spot” in terms of attracting more riders.
Coun. Goodwin raised the concern about the cost of adding another bus. He said, “This is too rich for what we’re going to get for it. If demand is very large, we’re looking at tax increases in order to fund this [more buses].”
He cautioned the city to “think about success and where it takes us.” With commuter expansion costing $34,000 per year for 20 people per day, he said, “I’m not sure its worth the money.” Would such an expansion be “affordable for the city” over the long term, he added.
Coun. Roberts said, “It’s a chicken and egg thing. Nobody’s going to take the bus if there is no bus; if people know there is a bus they are more likely to take it.”
Coun. Middlebrook doesn’t see the commuter service “failing” especially with better times that are more convenient for workers. “It’s just going to grow,” she said.
Mayor McCormick suggested the city look into cost sharing with the City of Cranbrook. Pollock said he would broach the subject with Cranbrook.
Council voted unanimously to expand the Monday commuter service and will add an additional bus in 2019.
New multi-residential construction on the way
Council approved a zoning bylaw amendment that will allow Tyee Homes to develop a residential complex at 2501 Rotary Drive called Mark Creek Landing.
Carl Lauren of Tyee Homes proposes to build a mix of duplexes (seven buildings, 14 units) and townhouses (three buildings, 16 units) on the land. The duplexes have one or two bedroom options. The townhouses would be three bedrooms, and, all units will have a garage.
At the public hearing on the zoning amendment, three residents directly affected by the proposed development made presentations supporting the development, but opposing the addition of two-story townhouses.
All residents cited “privacy” as their main reason for objecting to the development. The townhouses along Rotary Drive will be two levels high and residents from across the street were concerned that people looking from the second floor will be able to see directly into their yards.
One presenter at the public hearing was concerned about the high density of the development that would lead to increased traffic, noise and danger to children in the area. They also noted the line of townhouses along Rotary Drive would by “unsightly.”
Tyee’s Lauren responded, “We don’t do ugly or unsightly.” He said the landscaping would be the same as Mark Creek Crossing and that trees would be planted in front of the townhouses along Rotary Drive.
Malcolm Fruin’s concern was that traffic on Huckleberry Lane would be adversely affected. Fruin said, “We’re prepared for inconvenience, but not heavy construction vehicles” for the duration of the project.
To allay Fruin’s concerns, Lauren said that he would alter the construction plan and start building from the south next to Huckleberry Lane and move northward which would reduce the use of the Lane by construction vehicles that would use a connection to Rotary Drive at the north end of the property.
Public hearing participant Ron Colombo noted the original plan for the land called for duplexes aimed at seniors. He concurred with Anders Johnson who also objected to the townhouses “as it is not in keeping with the original intended zone use of the property.”
Lauren responded to that concern, saying the development was not specifically aimed at seniors, but “empty-nesters.” He also said the density was required in order to make the homes affordable.
In comments made before amending the zoning bylaw, Coun. Goodwin noted that “change is hard and there could be some slightly negative impacts, but I think on balance this will be a good project.”
Coun. Roberts said demand for housing in Kimberley is increasing and “It’s overwhelming how hard it is to find a home.”
Speaking from experience, Coun. Middlebrook said, “There is nothing worse than losing privacy, or nothing worse than losing your view.” But, she added the townhouses would be “quite a distance away” from homes across the street.
Mayor McCormick noted the re-zoning density was all about affordability. As for empty-nesters, when they move into multi-unit residential they free up their single family homes for younger families.
Lauren said installation of water and sewer services along with a road will start this summer. Construction on the first phases will begin in the spring of 2019.
Automated voting confirmed for civic election
The municipal election of 2014 was the first time the city used automated voting machines.
Commenting on the 2014 experience, CAO Scott Sommerville said, “I thought it was amazing. We had results in 18 minutes [after the poll closed] with great accuracy. They’re [the voting machines] very reliable.”
Sommerville added city staff is looking forward to using them again. The Chief Electoral Officer for the up-coming election is Corporate Officer Maryse Leroux. All questions or inquiries regarding the election can be directed to her office.
For those interested in running in the municipal election information brochures are now available at City Hall.
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 June 25.