Council for the Village of Canal Flats held their second bimonthly regular meeting on Sept. 28. Four reports were received by council, including the building permit summary report. The summary was notable in that it showed a more than doubling of 2020 estimated building permit values compared to 2019. Between Jan. and Aug., twenty-two permits were filed with an estimated value of ~$4.2 million. In 2019, there were twenty-four permits filed with an estimated value of approximately $1.3 million. In 2018, ten permits had an estimated value of ~$2.3 million.

Six motions were discussed by council and village staff for the majority of the hour long meeting. The first concerned the continuation of electronic meetings held by council. The recommendation to council was to continue holding meetings electronically until the end of the year given BC’s current COVID-19 state of emergency. Another factor behind the recommendation was consideration for the fact that the village doesn’t have a facility large enough to promote appropriate social distancing.

Councillor Doug McCutcheon suggested an amendment to ensure at least one live meeting is held before the end of the year. “We owe it to community,” he said. “Meeting in this kind of way [electronic] distances us from community.” McCutcheon suggested council look to try and combine a live meeting when the village civic centre opens for the provincial election. Village CAO Adrian Bergles suggested to council that an amendment to the resolution be considered at the next council meeting. “That will give us time to consider the logistics,” said Bergles. Mayor Karl Sterzer suggested that at the next virtual meeting they consider the recommendations prepared by village staff and then decide. A fine idea, McCutcheon and the rest of council agreed.

Council next discussed a development variance permit application to a zoning bylaw concerning the type of housing Canal Flats wants to see within the municipal boundary. As per the revamped official community plan (OCP), the idea is for Canal Flats to move away from a certain type of modular home. The long and narrow look. The applicants sought a variance to the village zoning bylaw to reduce the minimum horizontal dimension of a dwelling from twenty-two to twenty feet. The reasoning, to place a new modular home on a vacant property. Yes, the very kind discouraged by the OCP zoning bylaws.

Off the bat, councillor Bill Lake said he wouldn’t vote in favour. Plainly, he said: “This is why we have the bylaw.” Corporate Officer Sylvie Hoobanoff responded by adding important context for why the non-refundable $500 application fee was made in the first place.

“This lot has had numerous inquiries. It’s been vacant forever,” she said. “It’s a funky, narrow, corner lot, and with the current zoning bylaw, it may remain vacant.” Village setbacks are different for corner lots compared to interior ones. The way the math checks out would mean less room for an appropriately dimensioned home to be separated from the road. Which, as Bergles pointed out, could create safety concerns with regards to traffic.

“I just want council to understand that it’s an interesting lot,” said Hoobanoff. “Lots of people have tried to make it work but have been unsuccessful.” Hoobanoff suggested a variation to the zoning bylaw to enable a long and narrow modular home would be in asset to the community given the context. Among council, Mayor Sterzer was the lone vote in favour for the defeated application.

Next on the agenda were recommendations for council to accept the “Canal Flats Fire Rescue Wage Top Up for Training Policy” and to allow Elections BC to use the Civic Centre for the provincial election. Both motions passed unanimously.

The final motion concerned a Columbia Basin Trust grant application. Staff sought authorization from council to apply to the Columbia Basin Trust Trail Enhancement Program for $24,900. If awarded, the money would go toward the development of the village’s “Shore to Shore Pathway” – a working title.

Once complete, the pathway would, in a sense, connect Kootenay River to Columbia Lake. Gravel for the north segment of the trail – from the Burns Avenue, Grainger Road main intersection has already been laid. Construction for the south segment has yet to start. Funds are needed. The length of the pathway would be about 800 metres from the same intersection to the frontage road where the Fire Valley Restaurant is located. Staff pointed out that creation of trail networks is a strategic priority of council in its recommendation to apply for the grant.

Council voted against the application. Before the vote was cast, Councillor Delorme asked what the $25,000 would pay for. As did Councillor Lake: “How far will that money take us? We don’t have a plan yet.” Bergles pointed out that for the south segment, the engineering plan hasn’t been completed. He also pointed out the grant opportunity was brought forward by council in the first place.

The rest of council echoed Delorme and Lake’s sentiment. Particularly after Delorme suggested there were other much larger grants council could apply for to pay for the trail all at once, rather than piecemeal. Promoted at the UBCM meetings in Radium the previous week were available active transportation grants totalling $17 million. “I suggest we focus our attention on bigger pools of capital,” said Mayor Sterzer.