Highway improvements, rail trail among portfolio pursuits

Council reports provide opportunity for insight on new district portfolio responsibilities.

Though still new to the job, Sicamous councillors are working full-speed ahead with their respective portfolios for the betterment of the community.

Councillors’ reports is a standard item on the regular Sicamous council agenda. Typically, it’s an opportunity for individual councillors to share what they’ve been up to since the last meeting. At its Feb. 25 meeting, however, council took this item to a new level, with each councillor providing lengthy, detailed reports about what they’ve done and are doing, largely in relation to the portfolios they were recently assigned.

First up was Coun. Todd Kyllo, who leads the economic development portfolio. Kyllo said he had an opportunity to meet with a local cat skiing operation, K3 Cat Ski. He said the company employs 23 people, and brings about 1,000 skiers to the area annually.

“It was just good to see a small company like that out of Sicamous can create their own ski line,” said Kyllo. “I think their tenure is 30,000 acres, so it’s a pretty big area. They’re only utilizing a certain percentage of that for sure. It was actually good seeing there are some other employment factors that I don’t think we think about here.”

Next up was Coun. Janna Simons, who leads the school/education portfolio. Simons said she attended the recent district-organized cooking class, adding, “Hopefully in the future we can continue with the cooking classes without a recreation director.”

She also commented on attending the Feb. 17 inter-agency meeting, and how her eyes were opened to the challenges of applying for social assistance. She noted Parkview Elementary is compiling a cookbook to fundraise for playground equipment, and the school board meets on March 10 to discuss potential school closures.

Coun. Gord Bushell, who leads the parks and recreation portfolio, said he, Mayor Terry Rysz and Coun. Malcolm Makayev attended a recent meeting with the Splatsin regarding the ongoing effort to establish a North Okanagan Rail Trail.

“It was a really momentous meeting that they had there, and we’re working to put together a team to actually acquire the rail trail,” said Bushell, who is also working with on the Regional Shuswap Trail Strategy to link communities via trail systems.

In addition, Bushell said he and Coun. Jeff Mallmes met recently with Jake Dewitt regarding three upcoming softball tournaments.

“One of them is May 22 to 24, which is the Sicamous Ladies open, 12 to 16 teams; June 19 to 21, there’s the Okanagan Valley Championships, that’s 19 and under age, 16 girl teams; and Aug. 1-3, there’s men’s provincial championships, which is 12 to 16 teams,” said Bushell. “So we have some work to do to our ball diamonds, and we’re looking forward to hosting that and helping Jake out.”

Makayev, who leads the transportation and infrastructure portfolio, commented on a recent meeting he had with Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff, who came to town to discuss proposed changes to the Trans-Canada Highway/Highway 97A intersection.

“They’re getting close to having a public consultation with our community, so hopefully that will be in the near future…,” said Makayev, later adding he’s also been involved in in-camera meetings with MOTI regarding the Bruhn Bridge.

As lead on the health care and seniors portfolios, Makayev also attended a recent meeting in Blind Bay on the recruitment of doctors. He noted it went well, and council has committed money in the budget.

Tourism portfolio lead, Coun. Colleen Anderson, spoke of her attendance at the recent Sicamous and District Chamber of Commerce AGM, and took a moment to congratulate the new board president and directors in the audience. She also attended a Shuswap Tourism workshop, and spoke to the important role the houseboat industry plays in the region’s economy, as well as snowmobiling.

“We have bragging rights to sledding in the morning and boating in the afternoon,” said Anderson. “Not a lot of locations have that ability and we need to share that. We need to start being really proud of what we have here.”

Mallmes, who leads portfolios for waterfront and public works, said he continues to investigate the possibility of Sicamous acquiring a head lease, that could potentially give the district control over its marina frontage and the ability to collect head lease funds. He stressed proceeding on this will depend on revenue potential.

As the district’s representative on the Okanagan Regional Library board, Mallmes also reported on his attendance at a recent ORL meeting, and the cuts the board is undertaking at local library branches.

“A place like Salmon Arm, they got cut $307,000 of their funding because they were being over-serviced. Sicamous was cut by $3,000,” said Mallmes. “I did ask if they considered library usage at all in their formula, and that wasn’t really a calculation that they were using.”

Having also attended the meetings with MOTI staff, Mallmes took a moment to praise Makayev.

“He’s the guy that’s bringing this stuff to this town and these people respect him and they like to work with him…,” sad Mallmes. “They’re very forthcoming with him, they’re very open, it was a very interesting meeting with them.”

Before going into the mayor’s report, Rysz took a moment to share some praise of his own.

 

“As you can see, by the reports from our councillors, with their portfolios in hand, the direction that this group is going and how they’re going to benefit this community,” said Rysz. “I’m  thoroughly thrilled with the reports and support and the energy and effort that they’re putting into all the portfolios….”