Council rescinds $13,440 grant advance for sledders

Queest trailhead: Decision puts proposed parking improvements on hold until next year.

Sicamous council is back-pedalling on a decision to foot a $13,440 advance on a grant-in-aid request from the Eagle Valley Grooming Society.

At their Nov. 14 meeting, council voted to rescind their decision to approve in advance, grant money from a $20,000 application to be submitted by the society for 2013 grant-in-aid requests.

Council approved the advance at their Oct. 10 meeting, after hearing from staff, and society general manager Gord Bushell, that the money was needed for work that may resolve parking and safety issues along Sicamous-Solsqua Road near the Queest Mountain trailhead. Bushell explained that property at 1721 Hillier Road was being donated for parking, but accessing it requires construction of a roadway.

Works services manager Grady MacDonald explained that concerns had been raised, both by the RCMP and from Solsqua residents, about sledders travelling along the road, and Coun. Terry Rysz referred to the situation as a serious safety concern. But Couns. Fred Busch and Greg Kyllo, who chaired the meeting, said they were uncomfortable approving the grant-in-aid request prior to 2013 budget deliberations.

“Personally, I feel it would be premature at this point to make a commitment on funds without having to proceed with all the applications and going through our budget deliberations,” said Kyllo.

District financial services director Ruth Walper said the advance would have to be reflected in the district budget as a grant in aid for 2012, adding that funding had already been expended. District community planning officer Mike Marrs then explained  that zoning on the donated property wouldn’t permit a parking area. He suggested the property owner could apply for a temporary use permit. This was the route recommended by staff at council’s Nov. 14 meeting, after the advance was rescinded.

Bushell wasn’t overly upset by council’s decision as he later explained to the News that the project would have to be put on hold for this sledding season.

“It was just a shot in the dark,” said Bushell. “Administration indicated, make a pitch to the council and see if it will pass. It did, but I understand where they’re coming from. Council can’t really approve works without approving the budget first.”

As an interim measure, Bushell said the society may look at putting up additional signage along the road, with the support of the district. Other than that, he said there’s little else that can be done until the new year.

 

 

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