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SUMMING IT UP: Grand Forks City Council
Last week’s Grand Forks city council meeting was jam packed with delegations from the dog park, and the Marshall Lake conservation group as well as the more practical work of bylaw approvals.
Users of the local dog park, located on 18 Street at the south end of the Evergreen cemetery, are asking for council’s support at their meeting Monday, Aug. 20 for three key changes at the site.
“Community dogs get together. The benefit of that is that they improve their socialization skills. We’re not getting as many aggressive dogs, and we’re also getting a great deal of education,” said Kathy Novokshonoff, a member of the Dog Park Association and local animal trainer. “Dogs get to play, burn off energy and make friends.”
Novokshonoff said that the users would like to enlarge the park by extending the boundaries “as far as feasible.” The group has some funding available to build the fencing if the city were able to provide the labour in the same way the last section was built. With the new section the group is suggesting they could provide a safer area for small or more timid dogs that are not comfortable in with more social dogs.
The second proposal is to build a structure for shade, preferably a semi-permanent enclosure with a picnic table. Lastly, Novokshonoff promoted the creation and installation of signs on Highway 3 to promote the park’s location for visitors to the area.
Councillor Gary Smith said that there have been complaints about owners walking their dogs to the park not cleaning up after their dog defecates on properties in the neighbourhood.
“We can certainly encourage people (to be responsible and pick up the feces), but unless there’s some teeth – a bylaw with a fine and someone to enforce it – I don’t know what we can do to stop it,” said Novokshonoff. “Having said that, those people in the park there are all ambassadors – they will go out of that park and they will talk.”
Council made no decision at the time of the presentation, but received the delegation’s report.
Marshall Lake conservation
A group of regional residents, represented at the microphone by John Greaves of Midway, were in chambers to ask for the city’s support to protect Marshall Lake. The small lake that sits above Phoenix Ski Hill was dammed to provide water for the city of Phoenix and the mines that were active in the area. As a result of a review of old dams, the province of B.C. determined that the Marshall Lake dam was a high risk and, because it no longer serves its original purpose, gave notice that they wish to decommission the dam.
“One end of the lake is fairly deep, the other end where the dam is is shallow. There’s no pressure against a rickety old dam,” explained Greaves. “There really isn’t a lot of money to be spent on it. Any money that is spent is the Ministry’s own call. We don’t believe that expense is really an issue… the cost would be about three cents per person in the province to maintain that dam.”
Greaves highlighted the lake as a tourism asset for the region in addition to providing water storage and a source for wildlife to drink.
“It’s wrong-headed to go in there because of something that happened somewhere else, being Oliver. They’re not comparing apples and oranges. There are a lot of people in the Boundary area, including a ton of people in Grand Forks, who signed our petition… that are concerned that we don’t lose this little lake,” added Greaves.
The group wishes to pressure the provincial government to maintain the dam to keep water levels at their current storage capacity. If the dam was removed the water levels in the lake will drop by about two meters. The City of Greenwood and the Village of Midway have already thrown their support behind the preservation of the lake.
Smith did not agree that the dam should be maintained.
“The lake is essentially artificial to the degree that its depth is now, so decommissioning the dam is not actually getting rid of the lake, it’s just lowering the lake,” said Smith. “It’s actually returning the lake to its natural levels. Another concern is that the lake contains an invasive species – sunfish – and we don’t want to see those in the Kettle River.”
Council approved a motion to send a letter to the province of B.C. asking for them to continue to maintain the dam.
City staff recommends four-way stops
Near accidents at two busy intersections have caused city staff to propose changes to the street crossing at 72 Avenue and 2 Street as well as 2 Street and 68 Avenue (near International Forest Products). Staff looked at options for these corners that would be inexpensive, but would slow down traffic and create safer traffic flows.
A suggestion to install a roundabout, at least at the 72 Avenue and 2 Street intersection, was discussed. In the end there was no decision by council, but the matter was deferred back to staff for further investigation of options.
Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society master plan
An updated master plan for the Phoenix Mountain ski area has been presented to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources. As a part of the plan’s process, the city was invited to comment or support the plan. The plan serves to outline the hsort and long-term goals of the ski area and will allow the society to proceed with a new operating agreement with the province.
The plan outlines expansion goals including increased parking, a first aid building, extension of the rental / ski school building and the installation of a new power supply. Long-term aims include: development of a new base area complete with overnight cabins, new day lodge, roadways and increased ski runs and lifts. The master plan also included the plan to operate as a mountain bike facility in the summer season.
Council received and supported the proposal.
Council passed their annual tax exemption bylaw for the upcoming 2013 taxation year for nine non-profit applicants. Each year council must consider this bylaw allowing churches, and properties used for non-profit and philanthropic uses to be granted exemptions.
The first three readings of increases to the city’s garbage fees were passed. These fee increases are in keeping with the decision to introduce the new organic waste recovery program to the entire city and are included in this year’s budget process. The annual rates will be increasing from $108 / year to $115.
Each year city staff, along with staff from the visitor information centre, review the rates at the municipal campground to determine next year’s fees. The new bylaw, that passed three readings at the meeting, will see next year’s fees increased by $2 to $4 depending on the services. Tenting will be $18, recreation vehicles $23 and recreation vehicles with full services $33.