Invermere opens tennis courts, public washrooms
By Steve Hubrecht
Invermere is starting to open up, at least ever so incrementally, from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council gave the go-ahead, during its most recent council meeting, to unlock the tennis courts by the CPR lodge, and to open up public washrooms throughout the district, starting just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.
Discussion at the Tuesday, May 12 council meeting was brief, in part because it followed from talk on the topic earlier the same day during a committee of the whole meeting. All council members agreed on the steps to start the openings on Friday, May 15 and they briefly talked about whether or not to open the skateboard park at Mount Nelson Athletic Park, before deciding to wait for further guidance from provincial authorities on that specific matter.
Mayor Al Miller referenced a letter council had received from Richmond Studney on behalf of a local social tennis league, asking the district to open the courts and pointing out that tennis is a sport that necessitates social distancing by nature of how the game is played. Miller said the courts are clearly important, and that it is good to get people out and active. Opening the washrooms, he added, makes sense “so we can facilitate good hygiene for anybody who is out and about.”
Councillor Gerry Taft pointed out that the district had recently been told by municipal insurance officials that it shouldn’t have closed public washrooms in the first place, since that decreased places to wash hands during the pandemic. “We’re all trying to learn,” said Taft, pointing out that the district’s closure of the washrooms seemed to make sense at the time.
Talk during the meeting also turned to potentially opening the pickleball courts at Mount Nelson Athletic Park, but councillors and district staff voiced concerns that unlocking the gate to open the pickleball courts would also, by default, open access to the skate park.
Also during the May 12 meeting, council adopted the district’s 2020 tax bylaw, which entails a two per cent tax revenue increase. The two per cent increase means an additional $92,000 in tax revenue for the district this year. The increase will translate into an extra $19 in taxes for an average single family dwelling in Invermere (based on average assessed value of $480,000), and an extra $2.05 for the average commercial business. The district’s tax revenue is comprised almost solely of residential property tax payers (91 per cent) and businesses (8.4 per cent). Invermere’s tax rate ratio remains at 2.49, the same as it was in 2019, and well below the B.C. average of 2.749. (Tax rate ratios compare business taxes rates with residential tax rates for a given place).
Council members unanimously adopted the tax bylaw with little discussion. Councillor Greg Anderson noted that the increases — $19 for homes and $2 for businesses are relatively small.
But Invermere residents will see other increases on their taxes notices this spring, in part because the district collects property taxes for other agencies (including regional and provincial governments) and in part because in addition to the two per cent tax increase, tax bills this year will include the parcel tax for the Lake Windermere Resort lands purchase (which works out to slightly more than $100 per home). Increases in the tax the district collects for other agencies includes school taxes (which are up 3.4 per cent this year), police taxes (up 6.5 per cent), B.C. assessment authority taxes (up 10.7 per cent), Regional District of East Kootenay taxes (up more than 12 per cent), and regional district hospital taxes (up 64.8 per cent).