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Posted: March 16, 2017

Tax relief for businesses; Kimberley Crossing a go

Kimberley City Council Report

By Nowell Berg

On March 13, City of Kimberley council held its bi-monthly meeting.

Councillors Kent Goodwin, Albert Hoglund, Nigel Kitto, Bev Middlebrook and Darryl Oakley were present along with Mayor Don McCormick (pictured above).

Council sets 2017 Property Tax Rates

Council unanimously voted to increase 2017 municipal property tax rates. The Class 1 – Residential rate will go up by 1.9%, Class 2 – Utilities property also increase by 1.9% and Class 5 – Light Industry property rates climb by 1.9%.

The Class 6 – Business and Class 8 Recreation property tax will not increase in 2017.

Mayor McCormick said the decision to have no tax increase for business property reflected “clear communication” the city recognizes the “great work” these entrepreneurs have done in leading a “retail renaissance.” He also pointed to the “on-going” service review being conducted by CAO Scott Sommerville and department managers to identify savings thereby keeping tax rate increases low.

Coun. Hoglund noted the city Chief Financial Officer and managers “deserve credit” for limiting the tax increase. Their work made Council’s “job easier” when it came to budget deliberations and decisions.

The mayor concluded by reiterating the need to build up the Infrastructure Reserve Fund (IRF). He said the IRF deficit will “not go away” and the city “can’t tax our way out of the problem.”

Chamber of Commerce snags three-year contract

Council, in a five to one vote, approved a three-year fee-for-service contract with the Kimberley and District Chamber of Commerce. They will receive $25,700 each year for business development and investment attraction services.

Coun. Bev Middlebrook

Coun. Middlebrook opposed the contract saying it was not fair for the city to cut youth programs at the same time as handing money over to the chamber.

While supporting the chamber and business, she felt that it was “equally” important for the city to support youth, who would “be the business leaders of the future.” She pointed out that other not-for-profit organizations like the library, arts centre and museum must apply for funding each year. Then asking, “Why should they [chamber] receive a three year term?”

Coun. Oakley understood Middlebrook’s concerns even supporting her argument, however, he said the chamber is an “important investment and voice for Kimberley businesses.” He said they needed stability with “funding for a longer term” because “it takes time” to undertake economic development and attract new businesses.

Middlebrook shot back that “stability is important for all groups.”

Coun Hoglund supported Middlebrook’s position saying that if other groups had to “come back yearly,” then so should the chamber. He said it seemed like “we are treating them differently.”

Coun. Roberts reiterated Middlebrook’s point about the library, arts centre and museum noting they provide “budgets and financial reports.” The chamber should be held to the same level of accountability, saying, “It’s prudent to see how dollars are spent.”

CAO Sommerville pointed out there was a difference between the chamber fee-for-service contract and the Community Grants for the library, arts centre and museum.

Mayor McCormick said the contract contained “specific activities and tracking metrics.” As well, the contracts termination clause effectively “makes it year-to-year” despite the three-year term.

A review of the contract shows the chamber is held to high standards of program delivery and reporting. The chamber must perform three business development and five investment attraction activities which include organizing the Kimberley Business Expo, conducting the Kimberley Investment Opportunities Tour, advertising and promoting Imagine Kootenay (formerly Invest Kootenay), undertaking a number of business education seminars and identifying local businesses that could be listed on Imagine Kootenay.

Coun. Goodwin noted the chamber has “taken on some of this [economic development] activity” for which the city should pay a fee.

After this lively discussion, a vote was taken and in a five-to-one decision council approved the chamber’s three-year fee-for-service contract. Coun. Middlebrook’s was the lone vote against.

Imagine Kootenay membership approved

In another related motion, council approved continued participation in Imagine Kootenay by approving the yearly membership fee of $7,500 which is “non-binding” and at the city’s discretion can be canceled after each year.

Kimberley Crossing and seniors’ housing get green light

Kimberley Crossing location. Click to enlarge

In two separate decisions, Councilor unanimously adopted zoning amendments that will see more seniors accommodation built in Kimberley.

The Marysville project known as Kimberley Crossing Campus of Care facility received the green light from council. This project would eventually see 119 new spaces designated for various types of seniors’ accommodation.

Many jobs will be created during Kimberley Crossing construction, which will cost almost $73 million to complete all three phases. When it’s all done, the complex will employ 77 people spinning of over $28 million per year into the local economy.

KSS affordable units approved

Council also approved the zoning changes to allow the Kimberley Senior Society (KSS) to demolish the old Pioneer Lodge buildings and construct eight affordable rental housing units on Church Avenue.

Council also unanimously approved allocating almost $40,000 “to offset the cost of building permit, development permit, zoning and a OCP amendment and water and sewer connection fees.” This city support should help KSS kick start the project and hopefully receive construction funding.

Nordic Club wins big

The Kimberley Nordic Club (KNC) received just over $55,000 from the BC Rural Development Fund. These funds will be used to improve trails and obtain certification from the FIS (International Ski Federation) which will allow KNC to host National, North American and Western Canadian Championship ski events. These events will draw from “300 to 700 competitors, support staff and entourages” to Kimberley.

Kimberley city council meets twice monthly. All meetings start at 7 p.m. and are open to the public. Check the city’s website here for the meeting agenda. Click on the 2017 folder and follow the link.

The next council meeting is Monday, March 27.

It’s your city; get involved.

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