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Kaslo council, September 7: Council tables motion on First Nations relations

·5 min read

UNDRIP endorsement tabled

Councillors got their first look at a motion that would recognize their obligation to engage fully and sincerely with local First Nations.

But they tabled the motion for more discussion at their meeting next week (Sept. 27).

A report prepared by the CAO recommends that the Village endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) articles, and make themselves familiar with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls to action.

“Endorsement of UNDRIP shows support for the principles of the Declaration generally,” says the report by CAO Ian Dunlop. “The provincial and federal legislation already compel municipalities (among others) to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent with affected Indigenous communities.”

Dunlop’s report says that most of the UNDRIP declarations are beyond the purview of municipal government, “but we can show our support by endorsing these documents.”

The report recommends the Village formally recognize the principles and actions, include that commitment in the Corporate Strategic Plan, and ensure all bylaws and policies are consistent with the Declaration and actions “on a go-forward basis.”

The report also notes the Kootenay Lake Historical Society could be approached to help the Village in researching any local records on the legacy of the residential school system. If they discover any, council could consider seeking guidance from federal officials on next steps.

While Councillor Molly Leathwood called on the Village to adopt the recommendations immediately, the rest of the Village leadership disagreed. The report was tabled to give councillors more time to review the information, and was to be brought up to a vote at the next regular meeting, on September 21.

Youth Centre funding okayed

Kaslo’s Youth Centre is going to get support to move to a new location – though Village staff will be double-checking how the money is being spent.

Council approved a Community Development Fund grant for $4,000 to help the Kaslo and Area Youth Centre move to a new space in the Kootenaian building.

But while Councillor Henry Van Mill made the motion to approve the grant, he also questioned the budget submitted for the project, calling it “shady.”

“I like what they are doing, but this isn’t right,” he said, questioning the amount being estimated for labour and materials. He asked if council could move that the grant come with a condition that KAYC provide council with details on who they are hiring to do the job, and for how much.

But other councillors, like Kellie Knoll, pointed out council doesn’t do that for other grant applications – and it’s up to the landlord to ensure the renovations are done to the building code.

“Are we going to track every budget, who is doing what work?” he asked. “I’d like to trust they are going to do a good job.”

Council voted for the grant, and instead of asking for more details formally, directed staff to check in with the proponents on who is doing the work and report back any concerns.

First Nations consultation on OCP

Just because they have a duty to consult with First Nations governments doesn’t mean all Village councillors have to like it.

Henry Van Mill made his view clear on the issue when council was reviewing a request for a grant from the OCP steering committee to facilitate consultation for the Official Community Plan.

The OCP group was asking for permission to apply for a $5,000 grant (from the UBCM’s Community to Community program) “to begin building relationships between the village of Kaslo and local indigenous communities.”

“So what is this $5,000 going to do, anything better than a barbecue?” asked Van Mill to staff.

“It’s an opportunity to meet with them and talk about some of our objectives and the Official Community Plan,” explained CAO Ian Dunlop.

“Then I have one last comment,” said Van Mill. “I think we can spend this time and energy way better on running this community. It’s in dire need of attention. We’re losing some businesses.”

Despite Van Mill’s objections, and his ‘no’ vote, the motion passed handily.

Online tax payment results in penalty

A Kaslo landowner has asked council to review the late fees he was charged for property taxes on three buildings he own in the village.

Josh Parachnowitsch said he had paid his taxes on the properties on the due date set out by the Village, only to discover that paying online meant a delay in the Village receiving the payment – thus automatically adding a 10% surcharge for late payment.

“To be clear: I am adamant about paying my taxes on time, and fully support the cost of service delivery in a small community,” he wrote to council. “This letter is not a complaint about taxation.”

Parachnowitsch said he was concerned that other people, especially seniors, who have been told to try to use e-transfer services during the pandemic may now find themselves with extra charges.

“I feel this penalty was not warranted and should be reverted due to a lack of information provided,” he wrote council. “I would further request this be investigated for all residents who paid online on the due date….”

He says Village billing should also make it clear that online payment is not considered ‘same day’.

Council received the letter as information.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

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