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Tramline proposal to be vetted through city staff and examined for benefits to city

Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak said council would like to have further information moving forward.

Faith may move mountains but a solid business case will be needed to move council on the Morning Mountain-to-downtown tramline initiative.

On Monday night Silver King Skyride Development Association had its idea to bring about a gondola from the Silver King mountains’ Morning Mountain into the city — called the Skyride Feasibility Initiative — dissected by council at its regular meeting.

There are pros and cons to every big project and city council will need to carefully weigh all of them before committing on its position, said Mayor Deb Kozak after the meeting.

“We need to consider (a request for money) but we also need a staff report on the possible benefits to the city and the region and where this funding might come from,” she said. “There is some caution on the part of council about the financing of this. We’d like to have further information moving forward.”

During the June 20 committee of the whole meeting, the association asked for council’s support of its plans to develop a gondola that would ride people from the city’s Railtown district to a height of 1,600 metres up on Morning Mountain south of the city.

As well, a request was made not only for the city support of the project — a contribution of $25,000 towards the costs of a feasibility study — but the city’s participation in the study.

Those requests are yet to be decided upon, as council directed city staff to report regarding the Silver King Skyride Initiative at the August regular council meeting.

“I think it is a big project, it is a big dream and it needs to have lots of support, not just the City of Nelson,” said Kozak. “I think the larger region needs to take a look at it and we need to see the full benefit of what it will bring to the community.”

Entitled “Access to the Inaccessible,” the project is aimed at providing locals and tourists of all ages the opportunity to experience the mountains around the city through a tramway to Nelson.

The association’s vision is to give people the “opportunity to experience the physical health and well-being, adventure, learning, pure fun and spiritual fulfillment that comes from spending time up high.”

The project has been two years in development with over 30 meetings already, nestled under the wing of a volunteer organization of over 60 people.

The principles of the project would be to provide a four-season, year-round operation that would incorporate a multitude of commercial opportunities, including equipment rentals, guiding, teaching, trail building, food and beverage, events and workshops.

It would be a regionally oriented Kootenay amenity constructed in a climate of a development-free zone — meaning no associated real estate sales.

Local people would be involved in its envisioning, planning, creation and operation, and it would be affordable for locals.

There would be a “bias” toward education — environment, history and backcountry safety — with career development opportunities, like a partnership with Selkirk College.

The tramway would create opportunity by building tourism-based infrastructure that is an “economic engine for local employment,” as well as business development, the association told council last month.

According to the overarching vision, the hope is that “five years after it’s in place, the Silver King Tramway becomes internationally recognized as a fundamentally unique connection between a mountain city and it’s surrounding mountain environment.”

The Tramway could become an international draw to the Kootenays — not just Nelson.

The next steps in the project for the association include a feasibility study that will incorporate a study of the market, the economics impacts of the project, the environmental cost and the capital requirements.

The proponents have also asked the Regional District of Central Kootenay for contributions for the study.

Capitol’s application receives city support

A letter of support from council serving as commitment of over $30,000 in city funds for the Capitol Theatre’s application to the Cultural Spaces Canada Grant has been granted.

The city’s facilities maintenance manager, Peter Sinstadt, requested a letter of support for the Capitol Theatre application to the Cultural Spaces Canada Grant.

The project entails a variety of facility improvements, including HVAC replacement, envelope upgrade and structural repair which under the existing lease agreement is the responsibility of the city.

Sinstadt noted the city could utilize surplus budgeted funds — in the amount of $32,826 — dedicated to the Capitol Theatre furnace replacement (mechanical systems replacement $75,000) in order to leverage grant funding to complete additional improvement to the facility within the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.

Upon further development of the specification package, Sinstadt was able to tighten the scope of the project and through a public procurement process has been able to achieve a savings.

“The projected surplus funds could be kept and used to offset year-end actuals or could be re-directed toward a number of different facility related issues,” Sinstadt said in his report to council.

“However, the above projects provide good stewardship with regards to energy efficiency, building performance and safety and it is recommended that the projected surplus funding be utilized in this manner.”

Film in the park request denied

Council received a request from Expressions Theatre to fund the showing of two movies at Lakeside Park for a cost of $1,250.

However, since the city has provided funding support through the Nelson and District Recreation Commission for two film showings at Lakeside Park and two showings at Kokanee Provincial Park, council denied the request by Expressions Theatre to provide funding for two additional movies showings at Lakeside Park.

Council no longer provides discretionary grant funding and instead participates in the Community Initiatives Grant funding.

The Expressions Theatre had shown free movies in Lakeside Park as a special event for the past several years without requesting funding support from the city.

But in 2016 Expressions Theatre was looking to expand the number of showings and requested funding support from the city to be able to facilitate the expansion.

Expressions Theatre group requested funding support from the regional district who has agreed to fund two showings in Lakeside Park and two showings at Kokanee Provincial Park.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay provided $2,500 in funding for this initiative through the Nelson and District Recreation Commission. The City of Nelson contributes 60 per cent of the funding to the Nelson and District Recreation Commission.