The RDCK office in Nelson. File photo

RDCK Roundup: Helicopter noise complaint forwarded to MPs

All the news from the regional district's June 17 meeting

  • Jul. 7, 2021 12:00 a.m.

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is complaining about helicopter noise pollution to its federal representatives. Directors voted June 17 to forward a letter of complaint about noisy logging operations using helicopters that disturbed the peace and quiet of New Denver for two weeks in May.

“This constant and intermittent ‘Thump, Thump, Thump’ of the helicopter blades under high load would wake me and my family up every morning as it could be heard inside our home,” wrote Rayn Butt-Grau and the Kosling family. “If we ventured outside, we could feel the vibrations in our chest, and at times verbal communication was difficult.”

The long hours of the log-moving operation, including over the May long weekend, seemed excessive to the letter writers – and the RDCK board.

“As a resident of New Denver, I can speak to the veracity of this letter,” said director Colin Moss. “I can assure you most of it is bang on. This was an industrial-sized helicopter under heavy load … many New Denver area residents are very upset.”

“This was another surface mining claim sold to a ‘rip-and run’ logging company who showed no regard for existing noise bylaws, did not confer with local government and with the price of timber, residents are now wondering where and when this is happening again,” he continued.

Right now, however, the RDCK can do little to limit helicopter noise, as it is governed by federal regulation.

Directors voted to forward the complaint to local Members of Parliament, with a supporting letter asking higher governments to come up with noise abatement procedures and other regulations for helicopter operations as suggested in the letter of complaint.

ALR subdivision OK’d to move to next step

A Krestova couple have cleared a big hurdle in getting their land subdivided.

Peter and Amy Grumme have two homes on their Krestova Lower Road property, and want to divide it into two separate lots – one a half acre, the other 4.5 hectares.

The province isn’t usually keen to subdivide farm lots, as it increases their potential improvement value and makes them unaffordable for farmers in the future. But the Grummes had a solution.

“The applicant is willing to register covenants on the titles of the newly created properties that would restrict the number of dwellings to one single-family dwelling per property should the subdivision be successful,” a report to the Rural Affairs Committee (RAC) from staff noted. “The farmable portion of the property would remain intact.”

With that assurance and the fact the Grummes’ land is pretty marginal agriculturally, staff recommended the proposal be approved to be forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission for a ruling.

Facelift for Lardeau Regional Park

The regional park in Lardeau is getting some upgrades. This year and next, the plan is to install washrooms, signage, pathways, benches, picnic tables and bearproof garbage receptacles. The parking lot is being readjusted for better boat trailer parking and the parking area in the riparian area has been removed. The cost of these upgrades comes to $70,000, which will be paid for in Community Works (gas tax) funding, taxation, in-kind contributions and other grants.

The RDCK has a management plan for the park, which was developed in consultation with the community. The plan outlines many improvements, to be implemented in phases over a few years.

Tackling invasive species

The RDCK is going to take an improved approach to tackling the problem of invasive species.

The board received the draft Regional Invasive Species Strategy from the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society, and directed staff to create a proposal for an implementation plan.

Staff said that any response should first focus on regional district-owned and leased lands and facilities. They said an inventory and assessment of RDCK properties would be a critical next step to determine the extent of the problem and inform the development of a response plan.

Staff will spend the next few months developing a response plan to bring back to the board, with an eye to starting work on the issue in the spring of 2022.

Financial reporting

The board approved its Statement of Financial Information to submit to the provincial government. The report outlines the RDCK’s spending and revenues, but the public is mostly interested in the glimpse it gives into the salaries of the regional government’s leadership.

Area H director Walter Popoff is the top-earning regular director on the board, making $64,553 last year for sitting on various boards and committees. Board chair Aimee Watson was the biggest earning politician overall. Her work as both director, board chair, and sitting on a number of other related boards netting her $89,457.

Among the highest-paid employees of the RDCK include CAO Stuart Horn, who earned $262,163 in salary and benefits. Other top earners include general manager of community services Joe Chirico ($145,098), general manager of development and community sustainability initiatives Sangita Sudan ($147,082) and general manager of environmental services Uli Wolf ($145,926). The vast majority of RDCK staff, however, make about $70-80,000 annually.

Cell phone study reschedule

In what’s becoming a regular event, a proposal to study the feasibility of the RDCK providing a cell phone tower to enhance service in Areas H and I has been delayed once again.

Directors Andy Davidoff and Walter Popoff asked the board to defer the feasibility study – expected to cost about $30,000 – for another several months. The directors plan to launch the study if the current cell service providers don’t take advantage of federal programs themselves to build infrastructure to serve the Pass Creek and southern Slocan Valley.

It’s the third time the study’s been delayed at the board level. The board will revisit the issue again in a few months to see if the big telecoms have moved on the issue.

Waving the flag

At least one former resident of the RDCK thinks the regional district should up its game when it comes to flying the nation’s flag.

“I respectfully request that the RDCK install flags at its buildings, particularly the head office on Lakeside Drive in Nelson,” Anitra Winje, a former RDCK employee, wrote to the board.

“Flags help residents identify their public buildings, including local governments. They are symbols of public service, history and pride.” She went on to say that flags “enable an organization to communicate leadership, solidarity and mourning.”

That comes to mind now as governments recognize the children whose bodies have been found at residential schools across the country.

The board received Winje’s letter as information.

Nelson Star