Council Briefs: Constrained budget affects grant requests

As the Village of Canal Flats begins detailed work on a budget that must be approved early in the spring

As the Village of Canal Flats begins detailed work on a budget that must be approved early in the spring, council accepted some grant requests from community groups while deferring others — and encouraging all applicants to look beyond the village’s limited means for financial help.

For requests directed at the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives and Affected Areas grant, the village approved a $12,000 request (spearheaded by the Canal Flats Seniors Group) to put in a gravel walkway along a block of Arbuckle Street, running from Burns Avenue to the Family Pantry parking lot. Council also approved $8,000 aimed at providing outside access doors to the washrooms at the Canal Flats Civic Centre, and $5,000 for a new power outlet.

The Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Grant is a $35,000 sum that the village can spend in a variety of ways.

“This is the most fun I have in the year, dispersing funds that I don’t have to ask taxpayers to pay for,” joked Mayor Ute Juras during the grants discussion.

An additional cost for engineered drawings will be required to install the new washroom doors, noted public works co-ordinator Bill Doroshuk.

Columbia Basin Trust recreation grants were also discussed, but council felt there should be a shelf-ready project in place before applying. The grants have two application intakes each year, with one in March and another in July. Council also noted there are 10 grant-in-aid applications to the village itself, totaling $12,570. Any of the community groups seeking funds would need to submit a budget and a financial report, and would be invited to do a presentation before council on their applications, said Juras.

“We are very constrained this year with our budget,” she added, noting groups may also be able to apply for the Regional District of East Kootenay’s Area F Grant in Aid program. The requests were received for information, but no further action will be taken until further in the budget process.

That process hit its first significant curveball on Monday, February 15th, as the village announced that afternoon that chief administrative office Brian Woodward has concluded his employment with the village after five years. See more in the Friday, February 19th edition of the Columbia Valley Pioneer.


Canal Flats ponders its stand

The village is deferring its application to appear on the CBC TV series Still Standing, after council questioned the timing of the show’s filming versus the village’s approval of an economic development plan.

The series, which features comedian Jonny Harris performing stand-up comedy in various down-on-their-luck communities across Canada, looks to profile a mechanism by which featured communities are being re-invigorated, explained Coun. Marie Delorme.

“We don’t really have that at this point, until we get through the economic development plan,” she said.

Council considered that, if chosen, Canal Flats may not show up on the program until the TV show’s third season, but will seek more information on the timelines before applying.


Final economic development working group meeting

Completion of a land development prospectus is imminent for the Village of Canal Flats, after the Regional District of East Kootenay committed 35 hours of planner time to the task during the final Canal Flats Economic Development Working Group meeting, held on January 11th. The working group was formed to look at the village’s economic options in the wake of the Canfor mill closure, and met several times starting last fall.

Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training representative Gerri Brightwell confirmed her ministry will also support the prospectus.

Juras told the group that the village had narrowed down a list of four candidates for the business development liaison position to three shortlisted candidates who were being interviewed. The position is being created thanks to Columbia Basin Trust funding, and the village has focused much of its post-sawmill planning around the work that will be done by the business liaison.


Building permits up in 2015

Canal Flats approved $996,329 worth of construction in 2015, according to the 2015 building permit summary submitted by the village’s building inspector, Al Domin.

The village charged a total of $11,832 for 17 permits, most of which focused on new homes — the value of new homes comprised $836,955, or 84 per cent of the approved construction. July was the busiest month, including four permits issued, and permits were approved every month except for January, October and December. The 2015 results were a slight uptick compared to 2014, when a total of 10 permits worth $7,005 were approved by the village. The 2014 permits held a combined estimated value of $827,100, of which $578,500 (70 per cent) was new home value.