Invermere council agreed to give $50,000 to the Rotary Club’s splash park project at its most recent council meeting. Construction will start this spring with the goal of having the park up and running by May long weekend.

“This is the Rotary Club’s original ask (of council) and we said come back when you’re close (to having all funding for the project),” said councillor Paul Denchuk at the February 11th council meeting. “Well, they are close now,”

Building the splash park will likely come to a total cost of $320,000, with much of the fundraising already done. Regional District of East Kootenay Areas F and G have already together put $10,000 into the project.

“We made that commitment and Rotary has come through in spades. We should absolutely go ahead with this (giving $50,000),” said councillor Greg Anderson.

Invermere mayor Gerry Taft agreed, but said he hopes people don’t think the fundraising is a done deal, yet.

“The total cost could be knocked down substantially if people come through with in-kind donations of things such as cement or use of dump trucks,” said Mayor Taft.

The splash park was originally projected to cost about $300,000 but that price tag has shot up by $20,000 because of an Interior Health requirement that the park be no more than 60 metres from a public washroom. The current washroom on Kinsmen Beach will be somewhere between 60 to 100 metres from the splash park, which is close, but maybe not close enough — so a new $20,000 washroom may need to be built.

“It seems a ridiculous thing for Interior Health to demand considering the existing washroom is good enough to serve the whole beach,” said Mr. Denchuk.

Funding accorded to Hospice Society

Council also agreed to contribute $3,000 to the Hospice Society.

“It’s something the community needs; there’s a gap with Interior Health, why wouldn’t we support it?” asked Mr. Anderson.

Councillor Justin Atterbury added he was impressed by how little of the society’s budget goes to salaries and how much goes to training volunteers and operations.

Additionally, in a separate motion, council agreed to give the society an additional $2,000 if Area F agrees to contribute $3,000.

“It’s a good idea to put pressure on Area F to put some money in as well. There are gaps when they (Area F residents) don’t contribute,” said Mr. Denchuk.

“Area F is huge and it’s assessed (property) value is close to that of Cranbrook, double that of Invermere, so it’s okay to ask for contributions from Area F,” agreed Mr. Taft.

Students push for culinary tourism

A group of David Thompson Secondary Students — Emily Zehnder, Sarah Zehnder and Leigh Thompson — gave a presentation to council on the valley’s potential for culinary tourism at the February 11th meeting.

The students told council the valley already has a strong local food industry, but is missing out on drawing culinary tourists because it lacks a cohesive plan. They recommended holding meetings, forming a local chef’s association, developing a unified logo, setting up a taste trail and holding a large-scale food festival as measures to help get such a plan started.

“If everybody could be together in the same room at the same time a lot could happen, since we already have many pieces of the (culinary tourism) puzzle in place,” said Mr. Taft in support of their ideas.

The students also recommended the district’s events co-ordinator be in charge of facilitating these ideas or that a separate position, perhaps just a summer student position, could be created for developing culinary tourism in the valley.

David Thompson Secondary School teacher Heather Brown suggested council should consider having the events co-ordinator commit to one food-based event a year.