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City’s campground to close for the season, leaving some homeless

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
October 13th, 2016

Despite a last-minute plea and a waiting list of working people waiting to reside there, the city’s municipal campground will not remain open this winter.

City council voted down a motion recently to keep the Nelson Tourist Campground open past its normal Oct. 21 closing date, and the campground will close its doors for the winter season again.

The decision is expected to put a number of people living in the campground — including several families — out of a home in a city where the rental vacancy rate is less than one per cent.

At the Sept. 20 Nelson Housing Committee (NHC) meeting, John Alton — representing the West Kootenay EcoSociety — outlined a proposal to keep the Nelson Tourist Campground open this winter season.

Several people currently living in the campground who have full time jobs in Nelson had also written letters asking for the campground to remain open, and asked if campground were closed where they would go. As well, there was an additional waiting list of six people wanting to live at campground.

Alton’s proposal to keep the campground open included:

  • Winterizing the water system and building which has laundry, showers and cooking facilities;
  • Winterization will make 12 sites available (out of the 46 sites that are there). The 12 sites could be serviced for RV use;

Alton felt the one-time investment renovation would cost around $18,000. He noted that the city’s campground supervisor had secured a grant to upgrade the campground.

There is some movement toward the campground remaining open next winter. Council directed city staff to investigate the possible establishment of a pilot project that would see the Nelson Tourist Campground remain open during the winter. A full report will be delivered to council that includes how other municipalities operate their campground during the winter.

A potential pilot project could be investigated for 2017 with the report presented to council in time for the 2017 budget deliberations.

Inter-community business licences in the works

The city will be joining the ranks of other West Kootenay communities as city council has agreed to participate in the West Kootenay Inter-Community Business Licence Initiative to streamline and simplify the business licensing process.

The West Kootenay Inter-Community Business Licence (ICBL) initiative is part of an effort to promote the success of the small business sector and to reduce barriers to doing business in the province.

There are currently 11 ICBL agreements located in various regions throughout the province.

Early in 2014 municipal staff from Nelson, Castlegar, Creston, Rossland and Kaslo requested the assistance of the province in undertaking work related to an ICBL agreement. The province conducted a revenue analysis based on the information gathered from the five communities.

The ICBL initiative — which will includes the communities of Castlegar, Creston, Kaslo, Rossland and now Nelson — was created in partnership with local governments, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Province of British Columbia.

The proposed fee for West Kootenay ICBL is $85. The ICBL fee is separate and additional to the business licence fee. Each business owner has the option to purchase the additional ICBL if they will be performing their services across multiple jurisdictions.

The ICBL can only be purchased from the community in which the mobile business has a storefront or business mailing address to ensure businesses are not strategically purchasing licences from communities with lower base business licence fees.

An eligible non-resident business or a business that does not have a business location in any of the participating communities may obtain a standard business licence from any one of the municipalities and then may apply for an ICBL.

The goal is to have the bylaw in place for January 2017.

This Place Matters

The city is supporting a crowd-funding proposal headed up by the chamber of commerce that could help complete a downtown urban design plan.

A letter of support is being sent to the National Trust for Canada to express city council’s full support for “This Place Matters” crowd funding proposal submitted by the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce.

A request from the executive director of the chamber on Sept. 20 to provide a letter of support for the campaign was made, and council approval was granted via email due to time constraints of the application.

As explained in the request, Nelson is completing a downtown urban design plan by engaging, business, cultural, arts, youth, tourism stakeholders and the public. This project will enhance the city’s heritage and architectural character downtown, respecting the past and building a sustainable future.

“The plan will include strategies for better wayfinding and business signage, enhanced sidewalk patios, lighting, street furniture, bike parking, public art, landscaping and public amenities like electric vehicle charging stations and washrooms,” read a city staff report to council.

The chamber, in cooperation with the Cultural Development Committee, has submitted an application to take part in a national crowd funding campaign through the National

Trust called “This Place Matters.”

“This campaign will help raise the profile of the Downtown Urban Design program that will be rolled out in Nelson by engaging community members, and perhaps others that have a soft spot in their heart for Nelson to contribute financially to this campaign,” the report noted.

There is a $40,000 community prize that National Trust awards to the most successful campaign, as well as the funds that may be raised through donations.

Nelson must first be accepted by the national jury to participate. If accepted, the crowd funding will take place in mid-October through end of November 2016.

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