This council column, unlike most, will cover a few topics that are all related to questions council and district staff have been receiving.
First up is the Home Owner Grant, a grant available to eligible B.C. homeowners who pay property taxes.
The province is now administering the grant application process.
The District of Summerland (and all B.C. municipalities) will no longer accept these applications. The new system helps ensure people who qualify receive their full grant entitlement, including the additional grant for seniors or persons with a disability. It is expected that applications will be processed faster through the province and with less incidents of fraudulent applications.
Although you can apply for the grant early, applications will not be processed until property tax notices are levied by the District (that is, until you have received your tax notice May 2021.)
Note that while the application process has changed, program details and eligibility requirements have not. Visit gov.bc.ca/homeownergrant or call 1-888-355-2700 for more information.
Second, after a protracted wait for the decision on a January 2020 grant application (the district was unsuccessful,) council approved a revised scope of work for the Arts and Culture Centre renovations.
Upgrades began on March 28 and are expected to be completed in August 2021.
The project consists of interior renovations to the whole building including new lighting, heating/cooling, paint and flooring.
The art gallery will be moving to the main floor (lower level) and a new multi-use arts activities space will be created on the second floor. Included in the contract are improvements to enhance the accessibility of the building, including handicap-accessible washrooms on both levels.
During construction, the district is providing support to the Summerland Community Arts Council by providing temporary office and art gallery space in the lower level of municipal hall.
Related to the arts council, after a one-year hiatus in 2020 due to COVID-19, the call for artists went out mid-March for artwork for the banner program.
Late last year the Lekhi family reached out to the arts council board for assistance on their vision of a mural or other public art installation celebrating diversity and inclusion in Summerland. After a number of conversations, the board selected Diversity and Inclusion as the theme for the 2021 banner program. The juried banners are expected to be installed in late spring.
Third, pathways and trails are receiving attention.
In 2020 the north half of the lakeshore pathway from Peach Orchard Beach to Rotary Beach was repaired, but the south half had to be delayed until Okanagan Lake levels dropped. The existing timber retaining wall is being replaced by a concrete wall, necessitating the wait for a lower lake level. The southern portion of the lakeshore pathway repairs starting soon with completion expected by early May.
Regarding the portion of Centennial Trail running alongside Eneas Creek (sometimes referred to as the Peach Orchard Trail,) the district is still awaiting to receive environmental permit approvals for this work. Council learned in early March that the district was unsuccessful with the application to the CEMF-Structural Flood Mitigation funding, but will be eligible for some Disaster Financial Assistance monies and are waiting to hear back from Emergency Management British Columbia to confirm the amount.
Once district staff has received environmental approvals and confirmation of Disaster Financial Assistance amount, council will decide whether or not the project will move forward.
Finally, vaccinations are progressing slightly ahead of schedule in Interior Health. The district is providing the curling rink as an immunization clinic. Council receives weekly vaccination rollout updates on Fridays; information is posted on the home page of the district website at summerland.ca.
Toni Boot is the mayor of Summerland.
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