The Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association is applying to the City of Salmon Arm to build an administration office building (the red box) on the fairgrounds near the southeast corner of a parcel that borders Fifth Avenue SW. (City of Salmon Arm image)

Building an office at Salmon Arm fairgrounds a tricky task for organization

Agricultural association finds upgrades to hydrants, storm sewer, street lights costly, daunting

Building an administration building won’t be an easy row to hoe for the Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association.

At the city’s July 5 development services meeting, SASLAA’s proposal to build an office building at 421 Fifth Ave. SW in Salmon Arm was looked at in detail.

SASLAA’s application was for a development variance permit with five variances requested: reducing the front setback of the building from Fifth Avenue, as well as waiving four servicing requirements. The requirements were: installing three streetlights; installing one of two fire hydrants; upgrading a water main from 100 millimeters to 200 mm and extending the storm sewer.

While council members expressed support for reducing the setback from Fifth Avenue, concerns were expressed about waiving other requirements. 

Coun. Tim Lavery said storm water handling and fire hydrants would be two items he would have difficulty waiving, but street work would be a possibility. Lavery said he is struggling because the association is “one of our premier community organizations, does incredibly good work on a key point of land and I want to find ways to support them.”

Other council members also mentioned their high regard for the organization and fall fair.

Coun. Chad Eliason agreed with Lavery, noting the improvements required are expensive because the parcel has been under-serviced for years, something the board didn’t realize. For him, the requirements he couldn’t waive would be fire hydrants and street lights.

“The worst time to get a fire hydrant variance is just after a heat wave in a high forest-fire season,” Eliason remarked.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren said she could likely support most of the variances other than storm water, and perhaps the city could help cover some expenses.

Mayor Alan Harrison expressed his appreciation for the agricultural association.

“I think council all recognizes the value of SASLAA in the community and the fact this is a non profit; it puts a different light on it.”

He asked that the fire chief be invited to the July 12 council meeting when the application would be complete and council would decide on it. He said he would follow whatever the fire chief recommends regarding fire hydrants.

Harrison described street lighting as crucial because Fifth Avenue is a heavily walked area. The handling of storm water is also important, he said, as “we’ve all walked through big puddles on that site.”

Jayme Franklin, president of the association’s engineering firm, pointed out the issue with storm water goes back to when Fifth Street was built and all the catch basins drained water onto the property. He said one small building would have negligible impact.

Phil Wright, president of the SASLAA board, thanked council for the direction and said he and the engineering firm would see what they could come up with in the next week.

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