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Christmas lights consultant, Civic Centre mural, traffic concern, broadband confusion, financial details, and more: Nelson city council June 9, 2014

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
June 10th, 2014

 

The following is a summary of the proceedings at Nelson City Council’s regular meeting on June 9.

Choquette Avenue re-zone and a difficult intersection

The controversial rezoning of property at Choquette Avenue came to council for final adoption, and Councillor Donna Macdonald said she would not support it without assurance that some work would be done on safety issues at the intersection of Choquette and West Richards. That intersection was an issue among people opposed to the re-zone. They said re-zoning would mean more traffic in an intersection already problematic because of placement of stop signs, steepness, sight lines, and sidewalks.

Allen Fillion, Director of Development and Engineering Services, in attendance at the meeting, said, “We are aware of concerns about it, but there is minimal improvement we could do. It is not an ideal intersection. I am not sure what we could recommend.”

“There is an expectation from the neighbourhood that we will improve it,” said Macdonald.

The rezoning was adopted with an informal understanding that city staff would look at options for the intersection by the time a development variance permit comes to council from the developer of the Choquette project.

Financial report includes salaries of mayor, councillors, and staff

Chief Financial Officer Colin McClure tabled the annual Statement of Financial Information, attached below, containing detailed financial information for 2013, including individual amounts paid to all suppliers of goods and services to the city.  The report also lists the salaries paid to the mayor ($45,173) and council (range: $17,671 to $19,117), and the individual salaries of each of the 37 city employees who make more than $75,000 per year (range: $75,000 to $158,600).

McClure also tabled the city’s annual report for 2013, which council accepted. The report contains a great deal of financial and statistical information about city operations and is attached below.

Civic Centre mural: back to the drawing board

Following some controversy at recent council meetings about how much the city should contribute to a proposed mural for the west and north walls of the Civic Centre Arena, Councillor Donna Macdonald said the Sports Council (the mural’s proponent) has since met with the Cultural Development Committee and as a result the project has gone back to the drawing board, as will be explained in a separate story in The Nelson Daily later this week.

Broadband confusion

Mayor Dooley and chief financial officer McClure said many people in the business community in Nelson are confused or misinformed about the availability of broadband in Nelson—what it will do for them, what it will cost, and why the cost is less in Trail and Castlegar.

This will be subject of an upcoming story in The Nelson Daily.

City will hire design consultant for Christmas lights, very quickly

At the May 20 council meeting the volunteer group that looks after Christmas lights on Baker St. asked for additional funding from council, which responded with a concern that lighting design should be integrated into other plans for Baker St. under the Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan. Council asked that staff look into this and bring back a recommendation, perhaps to use some money from the Spurway Fund to hire a lighting designer.

The Spurway fund is a private endowment, administered by the city, intended specifically for the purpose of Christmas lights in Nelson.

At last night’s meeting, city staff brought back a recommendation that staff should do what council had already asked it to do. The staff recommended that it should “investigate options for developing a lighting plan for Baker Street and provide a report to Council outlining the costs and timelines to hire a consultant to develop a holistic streetscape improvement guideline for Nelson’s downtown.”

Councillor Bob Adams pointed out that this would take months, and that the Christmas lights committee has to start its planning and preparation work in mid-August. He was also concerned that the recommendation says nothing about the request for an additional $5000.

Council decided that the lighting designer must be hired and have a report presented to council by its August meeting. Given that a request for proposals has not yet been sent out, this promises to be the fastest consulting process in the history of the city if not the world.

Holland Street re-zone

A request for a re-zone of a property on Holland Street from multi-unit residential to low-density residential (single unit) was put aside to a future meeting after some discussion about the confusing nature of the request which seemed to apply to all multi-unit residential properties in the city, not just those on Holland St.

Financial plan change for construction work at IODE Park

Council agreed to change this year’s financial plan to reflect the need to combine two separate projects in order to require only one excavation rather than two.  The two projects in question are the re-build of the bottom end of IODE Park as part of the re-design of Hall St., and the planned replacement of city water lines in the same location. 

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