Invermere council discussed several key projects underway in the valley, including the Westside Legacy Trail and the New Resident Attraction and Retention Plan, as well as the valley drug problem, at its most recent council meeting.
Council members voted unanimously at their Tuesday, June 23rd meeting to consent to a proposed Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) bylaw that would turn the planned Westside Legacy Trail into a regional park under the RDEK.
The move is being made so that the RDEK can assume liability over the trail. Local landowners have been generous in offering up parts of their land alongside Westside road for the Greenways Trail
Before they formally do so, they want to ensure that somebody else assumes legal liability for the trail, which is what the RDEK — with the proposed bylaw — is stepping up to do.
“Without the RDEK assuming liability, Greenway can’t secure the land. Without securing the land they (Greenways) can’t go any further with fundraising. So this is the first step,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.
“It would be a great legacy,” said Invermere councillor Greg Anderson.
Councillor Paul Denchuk said the timing of the trail is in some ways unfortunate since fundraising for both the new multi-use centre and the trail will be going on concurrently and will be in competition, but added he realizes the group needs to seize the opportunity and run with it.
Invermere council voted to accept proposed terms of reference for the New Resident Attraction and Retention Plan’s steering committee, which will have five members: Invermere’s mayor, one Invermere councillor, a citizen representative, a representative from the Columbia Valley Directed Funds Committee and a representative from the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Tentative plans have the committee starting to meet in July.
Anti-drug letter inspires action
Pointing to an impassioned letter in last week’s Pioneer from Heather Smythe calling attention to drug use in the valley, councillor Al Miller said council should do what it can to ramp up drug awareness in the valley, especially at schools. He suggested that council ask Columbia Valley Staff Sgt. Mark Shehovac to meet with council to discuss the issue.
“It’s rampant and we’re losing ground on it,” said Denchuk.
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft emphasized the connection between addiction and drug use and said any efforts should include not just the RCMP, but also representatives for relevant social services. Council then directed staff to ask Shehovac to come to the next regular council or committee of the whole meeting.
New bike stands
Councillor Paul Denchuk displayed to other council members one of the new green Imagine Invermere bike stands. He told them Imagine Invermere’s top four most desired locations for the stands are: the new Cenotaph Plaza, Valley Foods, the intersection by Peppi’s Pizza and the street corners on 7th Avenue by the banks. Council directed district staff to look into which of the desired locations would be most feasible and report back.
The Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations sent a letter to Invermere council advising that the Invermere and Cranbrook timber supply area review is proceeding as normal and that a data analysis package will soon be available.
“This is pivotal for determining if the community forest will go ahead or not,” said Anderson.
But Anderson was quick to add that, although the data analysis may be done, the actual decision on timber allocation won’t come until fall, and it will be at that point that people will find out if there is enough supply for a community forest.
A monthly bylaw officer’s report sparked discussion among council members about fistfights at the public boat launch and about businesses using signs on vehicles to advertise.
Invermere chief administrative officer Chris Prosser said things can get particularly bad at the boat launch by Pete’s Marina in response to questions about how heated debates can become between local residents or visitors.
“We get about three fights a year there. There’s fistfights, and our bylaw officer is down there breaking things up,” he said, adding these spats are usually about spots in line to launch boats, parking spots for vehicles near the launch, or between boat rental companies about who is tying up on whose side of the dock.
Invermere bylaw officer Mark Topliff had written a brief statement on local businesses not located in the downtown that park their vehicles emblazoned with advertising there for significant periods of time.
“Business owners do have vehicles with logos park on main street. The only thing we can do is put a time limit on parking,” said Prosser.
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft suggested it makes more sense to adjust the district’s sign bylaw to address these vehicles acting, in essence, as billboards rather that to adjust the district’s parking bylaw to put on a time limit.
Prosser said similar issues have arisen in the past, and that the business owners had stopped parking downtown when simply asked to do so.