Kent Council – March 22 – Council Highlights Including Agassiz Slough, Floodgates, Aberdeen Building Revitalization Project

Kent/Agassiz – The highlights from Kent Council – March 22:

Vaccination Updates

While in virtual attendance at the Fraser Health CEO Update to Stakeholders meeting, Councillor Spaeti advocated for a set vaccination clinic in the Agassiz-Harrison area that residents can depend on. Residents have voiced their frustration that when it is their turn to book a vaccination appointment there is nowhere local and are forced to book outside of the community resulting in many cases, the need for transportation.

Dr. Victoria Lee assured that more booking opportunities will open in our area as more age cohort phases are added.

If you require transportation to your vaccination appointment, Agassiz Harrison Community Services is offering ride services. Please call 604-796-2585 to book an appointment.

Harrison River Valley

Councillor Spaeti was appointed as the District’s representative to the Tourism Harrison Committee. Following Tourism Harrison’s delegation in January 2021, Council supported Tourism Harrison’s request to investigate the feasibility of including the District as part of the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT).  

Administered by the Province, the MRDT can be collected on behalf of a designated accommodation area for up to 3%. Funds collected through the MRDT program may be used for tourism marketing or affordable housing initiatives. To be eligible to collect the MRDT, a minimum of 51% of accommodations and 51% of rooms throughout the region must agree to participate. Although most accommodations and rooms reside within the Village of Harrison Hot Springs, Tourism Harrison has confirmed that three of the five eligible accommodation businesses in the District have agreed to come aboard.

The new regional tourism brand, “Harrison River Valley”, will include the District of Kent, Village of Harrison Hot Springs, and Electoral Area C. Led by Tourism Harrison, the regional marketing approach will help attract visitors to stay and explore the diversity of our entire region, focusing on the natural beauty and unique experiences that we have to offer. Marketing initiatives for the Harrison River Valley will be financially supported by Municipal and Regional District Tax funds collected from participating communities.

Aberdeen Building Revitalization Project

Council awarded the Aberdeen Building Revitalization Project to Hope River Contracting in the amount of $327,499 plus GST.

With Council’s approval staff applied through the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) in the Community Economic Resilience Stream for the revitalization of the Aberdeen Building and was successful in their application.

The Provincial CERIP, was developed to help communities recover from the economic impacts experienced from COVID-19. The Community Economic Resilience Stream includes projects that revitalize outdoor recreation, parks, washrooms, and downtown areas, upgrades public buildings, and enhances spaces to accommodate social distancing.

The renovation will include upgrades in electrical, plumbing and ventilation systems, painting, and improvements to the upstairs space for summer programming.

As proposed in the District’s provincial application, the revitalization of the Aberdeen Building will create job opportunities for local trades peoples, stimulate the downtown business community and re-introduce safe outdoor activity in Pioneer Park.

Some of the provincial funds will support developing historical photos and storyboards along the west side of the building, which will tell the story of the Aberdeen building and the downtown community.

Council requested that staff report back on the cost of installing roof solar panels and an electric charging station.

Agassiz Slough

In her report, Councillor Schwichtenberg noted that traps will be set out in the Agassiz Slough this week to establish a baseline for species currently in the system. Resilient Waters has identified the Agassiz Slough as one of several project areas where flood infrastructure can be made to improve fish passage.

The information that will be collected by Resilient Waters is timely as the District is seeking grant funds to replace the existing culvert with a fish-friendly culvert.

Visit resilientwaters.ca to learn more.

Floodgate Closure

Council adopted the Floodgate Closure Policy which would allow for the closure of floodgates during off-season high flows.

The District maintains flood gates that must be manually opened and closed as required, dependent on river flow. Historically, closure has been limited to the spring freshet season.

Changing environmental conditions have resulted in high river flows outside of the freshet season, which has led to discussions about closing flood gates during off-season flows. In addition, off season flows have triggered automatic activation at some pump stations while flood gates were open, which has minimal benefit to drainage and greatly increases wear and tear on the pumps.

This policy seeks to balance the benefits for agricultural drainage of having a closed flood gate during periods of high flow with the operational costs of manually opening/closing each individual flood gate. The policy was reviewed and supported by the Agassiz-Harrison Mills Drainage Committee at its meeting held on March 3, 2021.

Road Rescue Grant Program

Congratulations to the Agassiz Fire Department for their successful application to the Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC (FCABC) Road Rescue grant program. The funding of $8,160 is for training through Dynamic Rescue Systems.

Opioid Crisis and Call for Overdose Action Plan

Council passed a motion to request the Government of Canada declare the overdose crisis a national public health emergency; and immediately seek input from the people most affected by this crisis and meet with Provinces and Territories to develop a comprehensive, Pan-Canadian overdose action plans, which includes comprehensive supports and full consideration of reforms that other countries have used to significantly reduce drug-related fatalities and stigma.

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