Creston town council got the Columbia Basin royal treatment on May 27 when a travelling roadshow arrived to deliver an annual update on water and power issues that affect local communities.
Representatives from BC Hydro, Fortis BC, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service crowded into the gallery to deliver an operational update on anticipated water levels and other topics to council and other local officials.
While water levels remain above average, forecasts indicate that the Kootenay River and dams will be high, but floods are not predicted. Weather forecasts being what they are, one presenter noted, anything is possible. Snow packs are also above average in the Kootenays, but in other areas of the Columbia Basin in the U.S., they are low to very low.
If there was a reassuring message from the group’s presentation to council, it was that officials on both sides of the international border continue to work together to manage water flows and levels in the entire basin, making adjustments in order to create the greatest possible benefit.
•A request for a reduction in the building permit fee for an affordable family housing project was discussed. The Creston Valley Community Housing Society made the request in order to help meet a four per cent funding shortfall for a proposed six-unit project on 25th Avenue South. Councillors expressed a discomfort with setting a precedent for similar requests, and will urge CVCHS to apply for a grant from community development funds. Coun. Jerry Schmalz declared a conflict of interest and left the council chambers during the discussion.
•A $500 discretionary grant was approved to assist the Prince Charles Secondary School golf team with costs of participating in the high school golf provincial championships in Qualicum Beach.
•A request for funding support for a variety of projects from the Community Arts Council of Creston was referred to staff to prepare a report on recent funding to the arts community.
•Once again a request from the Creston Wave Swim Club for permission to allow camping at the Creston and District community complex for families of swim meet attendants in June generated considerable discussion. Schmalz contends that allowing free camping at the public facility puts the town in competition with local campground owners.
“What happens if other users of the facility make the same request?” he asked.
Mayor Ron Toyota said to deny the request without longer notice would be unfair, as the town has traditionally approved the request. (Although the community complex is a Regional District of Central Kootenay facility, camping is not a permitted use on the property and the Town of Creston has to approve any exception.)
Council approved the request, but requested that a letter be written expressing its concerns.
•Creston Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Jared Riel was presented with his certificate in fire service leadership from Dalhousie University by Toyota.
•Coun. Wesly Graham will represent Creston in the Coal Miner Days parade in Sparwood this month.