Creston Town Council approved spending of more than $600,000 from the yet to be finalized 2017 budget at the February 14th regular meeting.
Pre-budget approvals have been used in recent years to order equipment that might have a lengthy delivery time, to take advantage of seasonal pricing and to get an early jump on public works projects.
Most of the money authorized last Tuesday is to continue planned upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. Those expenditures will include a boiler burner replacement ($60,000), critical parts inventory ($72,327), sewer line pipe replacement ($103,000), “inflow and infiltration” remediation ($50,000), and bio solids handling system ($150,000), for a total of $435,327.
Additional public works approvals include the fire hydrant replacement program ($27,000), water pipe replacement projects ($85,000) and a Schikurski Park pump upgrade ($50,000). The latter is used to provide pressure from water drawn from Town wells on the Creston Flats, which supplements the supply from the Arrow Creek system.
Coincidentally, Ross Beddoes, director of municipal services, showed Council a sample of a clamp that failed in one of four waterline breaks in town recently. The cast iron clamp had rusted to the point of failure, allowing pipes to disconnect underground.
“How many of these are there in our system?” one councillor asked Beddoes.
“Hundreds,” he said. That type of clamp was commonly used in the 1960s, and more failures can be expected.
“These expenditures are in our longer term capital and budget plans—approving the spending early allows staff to get a start as soon as they are able, and not have to wait until the budget is finalized,” Mayor Ron Toyota said on Wednesday. “The only exception is the $10,000 allotment for a second snowplow “loader gate”, and that’s because the recent heavy snowfalls have proven that the one we have works so well.”
The gate is an attachment to a plow that can be raised at driveways so that most of the snow is not pushed back onto driveways, which owners have often cleared before the plow arrives.
In other Town Council news:
•Council approved an application to the RDCK to use $21,000 from the 2017 Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Program to purchase the Bad Hair Day donkey sculpture that now sits in the Rotary Park on 10th Avenue North at Northwest Boulevard.
•A letter of support will be written in favour of an application for skate park funding under the Columbia Basin Trust Recreation Infrastrure Program.
•The director of municipal services was directed to relay “Council’s utmost appreciation for the quick response and excellent job of snow clearing during the past weekend’s severe winter storm event in Creston.”
•Council authorized the billing to RDCK for administrative costs for Service #108 Economic Development ($15,767) and Service #174 Cemetery ($7,800). Creston Valley Regional Airport Society will be invoiced for $1,300 in administrative charges.
•Staff were directed to consult with Creston Public Library to see if the Town should apply for a book grant to the BC Government Francophone Affairs Program.
•Council received a report about the success of the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, which will be continued in 2017.
•A $500 discretionary fund grant will be allocated to the PCSS senior girls’ curling team for travel expenses to the Kootenay Zone Championships in Smithers on March 2-4. At the request of Coun. Karen Unruh, a budget must be provided in return for the grant.
•March 4 will be declared as Creston Lions Club Day and the $20 fee to use the Walkthough Park will be waved for related activities.
•A plaque will be placed on a bench beside the new sidewalk at Pine Street and Railway Boulevard to commemorate former mayor and councillor Joe Snopek.
•A Town of Creston duffle bag was donated for the auction at the Creston Valley Rod & Gun Club’s annual wild game dinner.
•A request to have sewer and water charges for home-based businesses aligned with secondary suite charges was denied.
“I would support the request if the owner wants to have the property rezoned to commercial,” Coun. Jim Elford said.
The property in question is zoned residential, but it is grandfathered from commercial zoning requirements.
•Mayor Ron Toyota asked councilors if they had any response from his suggestion in an I Love Creston column to reduce the size of council from seven to five members. Elford and Unruh were the only ones who said they have received comments, which were divided pro and con, with none suggesting it was a major issue.
Toyota said he would raise the question next month and drop the suggestion if no more interest was shown.
•Council was provided with information about water usage from the Arrow Creek water treatment plant. It is remarkably consistent, varying by no more than 6 per cent in from 2013-2016.
2013=1,659,160; 2014=1,609,407; 2015=1,697,758; 2016=1,660,123 in cubic meters.
“2015 was a hot and dry year,” the report from Colin Farynowski, manager of engineering, said. “If 2015 is removed, water consumption for the Town of Creston has remained relatively stable since 2013. It is also worth noting that since 2009 (usage = 1,966,802m3), water consumption has decreased by over 15%. Given high agricultural land useage, Erickson water demand is more susceptible to the hot weather experience the last 2 years.
“Weather sensitive operating conditions for 2017 – Towns help by supplementing water from wells.
“In the 2016 Water Budget, Council approved a ‘stop gap’ improvement to the Schikurski Pump House to increase our ability to move water within the Town distribution network. This project will decrease the amount of water we depend on from Arrow Creek.”