Builds booming in Coldstream

The start of a new year has seen a substantial increase in building activity in Coldstream.

Statistics for January 2014 show five permits were issued, three single family dwellings, one renovation and one accessory shed. The total construction value for these projects is $1.27 million.

“This compares to one permit and construction value of $1,500 for the same month last year,” said Bob Bibby, building official, in a report.

And the applications keep coming in.

“A total of 13 building permit applications were received for processing during the month of January, which is significantly more than the typical January.”

Rate review request

A major farming operation in Coldstream continues to seek support from the district by reducing a major expense it struggles with – property taxes.

Coldstream Ranch Ltd. has asked the district once again to review the rate multiplier used for calculating property taxes for farming, which is currently 4.5:1.

“We compared the multiplier rate the district used for farming and found it to be higher than in other areas,” said Keith Balcaen, Coldstream Ranch owner, in a 2012 letter to the district, which was followed with a second request in February 2014.

“In an attempt to curtail expenses in the struggling agricultural sector, Coldstream Ranch is reviewing all of their larger expenses; property taxes are one of them.”

But Coldstream explains that a large multiplier does not automatically equate to a higher tax. In comparing some of the other areas in its 2012 report, the district used Abbotsford and Kent, whose multipliers were 3.93 and 3.94 respectively. Although Coldstream’s is 4.5, the farm tax rate is lower than both of the aforementioned communities due to a substantially lower residential rate.

A reduction in the farm rate would require a shift to other property classes.

One option would be to change the tax multiplier to the average of the communities compared: 2.4:1, which would shift approximately $48,000 in tax revenues to other property classes. That would equate to approximately $11 for the average single family residential property owner.

Coldstream council has agreed to consider the tax multiplier, but not until budget discussions for 2015.

Councillors Gyula Kiss and Maria Besso opposed the decision.

Events fail to generate support

An event in Vernon and a new venture proposed in Coldstream have missed an opportunity for support this year, but could gain some next year.

The Gakhal Vigil, which takes place April 5, was seeking some support towards the estimated $800 cost to put on the annual event. The vigil, which is organized by the Vernon Women’s Transition House Society, marks the shooting of nine members of the Gakhal and Saran families by an estranged relative and it also raises awareness about ongoing domestic violence.

Since budget discussions have wrapped up, Coldstream is advising the Transition House of its grants policy.

A proposed new event has also been instructed to come back to council at a later date.

Fred Wilson was seeking Coldstream’s support for an opening ceremony at Sovereign Park on the Victoria Day long weekend.

Coldstream is asking Wilson to come back to council with a comprehensive plan prior to the 2015 budget discussions.

Municipalities meet

Coldstream is taking two environmentally significant concerns to a larger regional stage.

Invasive Zebra and Quagga Mussels, and increased resources for the Agricultural Land Commission are the topics of resolutions Coldstream is sending to the Southern Interior Local Government Association.

Councillors Richard Enns and Maria Besso will be attending parts of the SILGA convention in Penticton April 29 to May 2.


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