Ashcroft Slough off limits
Ashcroft council has rejected a request by local residents to support them in their efforts to provide safe, legal access to the Ashcroft Slough.
Councillors voted on Nov. 23 in favour of a resolution to “support public safety in the Village boundary, provide clear and consistent messaging in regards to illegal trespass and explore avenues to provide safe recreational opportunities.” The decision followed a delegation by CN Rail and the Ashcroft Terminal, which argued it was unsafe for people to cross its private lands while it is in the middle of a three-year expansion.
Coun. Deb Tuohey said while the slough is “wonderful” and she sees the benefits of having access to it, it is too difficult to come up with a solution at this time. “At some point, we have to be safe, we have to be legal,” she said.
Her comments were echoed by Councillors Jonah Anstett, Nadine Davenport, and Marilyn Anderson, who said “the safety of our citizens is the most important thing.”
Mayor Barbara Roden said council should keep the lines of communication open with CN to see if they can come up with a mutually acceptable agreement at some point.
“It is extremely dangerous, and as everyone here has mentioned, safety has to be number one,” she said.
Housing project supported
The Village of Ashcroft endorsed a grant application submission to Northern Development Initiative Trust under the Community Planning for Housing stream and commited $7,000 to a Housing Needs Collaboration project.
Council will also appoint one council member and one staff member to sit on the housing needs committee. If approved, the grant funding enables the committee to begin implementation of Ashcroft’s Housing Needs Assessment, which will define what affordable housing would look like in Ashcroft.
The support followed a delegation last month by Vicky Trill of the Ashcroft HUB and Trish Schachtel of the South Cariboo E. Fry Society, who told council that near the beginning of the COVID crisis, a community helpline was established between service groups in the community. A workshop among the groups suggested housing needs — and creating a housing committee — was the priority in the area.
“The more times I read this [Housing Needs Assessment], the happier I am with it. I’m a firm believer in not having studies done to sit on a shelf and gather cobwebs,” Roden said. “It is a huge project. I’ve talked to Judy Hampton in Clinton many times over the years about the Clinton seniors housing. It’s a long journey but this is a good first step.”
Ashcroft Council has released its 2021–2022 strategic plan, which identifies its priorities over the next two years.
The plan includes providing potable water to the Ashcroft Indian Band; storm drainage/runoff; an updated emergency response and evacuation plan; twinning the North Ashcroft reservoir; a Trails Master Plan; Community Garden/Heritage Park and Tree Assessment; and Volunteer Fire Department sustainability.
Roden said she’s pleased to see a balance of priorities that range from sewer and water to the recreational trails and the Heritage Park and Tree Assessment. The Heritage Park was constructed to celebrate Ashcroft’s historical roots in recognition of the village’s 50th anniversary of incorporation.
To celebrate Ashcroft’s 70th anniversary, council plans to assess all the structures and trees at Heritage Park and develop plans to construct a community garden between the park and the big blue truck.
Roden said the area has been described by a lot of people as “a desert oasis or gem. We need to do everything we can to make that the centrepiece of Ashcroft, the heart of Ashcroft,” she said, noting it used to be a gravel lot.
She added she has been bringing up the idea of a community garden since 2016, noting that more people are looking to them for food security. She added Ashcroft should look to Clinton and learn from its experience with a community garden.
Davenport thanked the mayor for putting the community garden in the “suggestion box for wants and needs. Hopefully COVID will be done by then and we can all participate in the process of providing quality food in the downtown core.”
New year, new schedule
Starting in the new year, Ashcroft council meetings will continue to be held on the second and fourth Monday of the month, but the meeting time will be standardized at 6 p.m., instead of alternating between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The move will allow Ashcroft meetings to be held during a different week from those in Cache Creek, which will be held the first and third Monday of each month, also at 6 p.m. It opens up the opportunity to have the meetings live-streamed through the HUB Online Network.
Subdivision bylaw given third reading
Ashcroft Council gave third reading to its updated Subdivision Development and Servicing bylaw.
The bylaw, drafted by municipal engineering consultant Urban Systems, is the first update to the bylaw in more than 30 years, and is intended to complement the village’s new Official Community Plan.
Invasive plant eradication
The Village of Ashcroft will invite Jamie Vieira, manager of environmental health services with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD), to discuss how it can get involved in a program to help residents deal with invasive plants within the village boundaries.
Roden noted that the TNRD was very successful in Clinton this past summer, with 32 private property owners taking advantage of the free TNRD service to remove invasive plants such as Spotted knapweed.