A novel way to stay fit, lack of road signage, and taking action on toxic fumes are on Warfield council’s to-do list after the Wednesday night regular meeting.
The village’s new council ran on a campaign of transparency and increasing community engagement. The message must have been heard by voters because seats were filled in chambers as four individuals went before the panel (Coun. Tom Milne was absent) with matters that ranged from positive, potentially dangerous and downright unhealthy for residents of Warfield.
First up was grade school teacher Nate Lott. His proposal involves youth participation in a trail building project near J.L. Webster Elementary School. Rachel Jansen from WaVES (Warfield Village Enhancement Society) was on hand to support his request.
Lott, is part of a Rossland company called D.I.G., Design Innovate Grow, that builds sustainable multi-use trails throughout the region. In Warfield, he asked council to consider designating a plot of land just off Forrest Drive called Beaver Bend, to construct a 30-x-80-foot pump track.
A pump track is a small looping trail system of dirt berms and “rollers,” which are smooth dirt mounds designed for bicycling without the rider pedalling. The name comes from the pumping motion used by the cyclist’s upper and lower body as they ride around the track. The purpose of the track is to use the pumping motion to maintain speed around the track without pedalling.
“It’s a track that has become quite popular in local communities because of the small amount of space it uses,” explained Lott.
He said revitalizing the unused park space with a pump track build would provide leadership opportunities, problem solving strategies, and build teamwork skills with the community’s younger members.
Warfield Mayor Ted Pahl noted that during the village’s recent youth forum, the majority of attendees were in favour of a pump track for recreation.
“I talked with the grade 6 and 7 classes at Webster today,” Lott added. “And there was an expression of interest from 21 youth.”
While council considers the idea, the group will actively apply for grant money, said Lott.
“We are looking at doing this over two weeks, from June 1 to June 15,” he clarified.
“We’d like to do it sooner, but that is the timeline for the grants. And there will be an official opening when the track is finished.”
Coun. Brett Rakuson mentioned that the Beaver Bend gulley does have drainage issues, while Vince Morelli, Warfield’s chief administrative officer, confirmed that the some of the property in the proximity is privately owned. “So we will have to look closely at that,” Morelli added.
Next up, council considered the purchase of a newer model diesel tank for Warfield public works following a presentation by a representative from Benson & Son Ltd. The village’s older model tank leaked and was recently disposed, so council is exploring replacement with a fully contained slightly used unit for $2,200.
Third to the table was Dan Weeks, and upper bench resident, who brought his road safety concerns before council. He’s been a Warfield resident for five years, and in that time witnessed increased traffic along Whitman Way, close calls and two accidents outside his Gordon Avenue home.
With only one traffic sign being a “Yield” at the junction where Whitman Way meets Dickens Street, Gordon Avenue and well-used road he calls “toboggan hill”, Weeks’ suggested that council seriously consider installing two more stop signs.
His primary concern is for the Warfield children who cross onto the dirt road as a short cut to school in the morning and as a path home in the afternoon.
“I see cars come flying down Whitman Way and I see the kiddies crossing the street with their packs,” he explained. “I feel we need to change the yield sign to a stop sign and add a stop sign at Dickens.”
Weeks noted that last summer when crews were working on Schofield Highway, traffic increased through Whitman Way and into the upper bench as drivers avoided traffic delays along the main drag.
“It’s a pretty dicey hill at any time,” he said. “But when they were working on Schofield, people came through Whitman much faster as the kiddies were coming up the hill.”
He said the neighbourhood concurs that there has to be traffic safety improvements at the junction.
“If it saves us a catastrophe then it’s well worth it,” Weeks added.
Council agreed to investigate the matter as a priority. Pending its decision, the next step would be for the the Warfield officials to pass a resolution that additional stop signs be installed at the site, Morelli clarified.
Additionally, Weeks requested council to ensure that chains are installed on the village’s new snowplow next season following an incident on his front lawn when the vehicle lost control on ice.
Last up, was a group of residents who reside behind Warfield’s Fast Gas. They spoke about the stench, noxious smoke and serious health-related effects the neighbourhood has experienced this winter when the business fires up its waste oil furnace.
“It is not only an environmental travesty but a health hazard,” said Tammy Hill.
Hill said people are reporting burning eyes, nausea and headaches related to the smoke emitting from the Fast Gas stack. She presented council a letter from the regional hospital’s chief of staff stating that the smoke is particularly dangerous to Hill’s son. “My special needs son has a compromised immune system and cannot be subjected to such an unhealthy environment. And my concern is for other people, the elderly and children, who are the most vulnerable.”
Two representatives from Fast Gas attended the meeting, and said the $20,000 waste oil furnace has been heating the site’s shop for two years. They said this is the first year there has been complaints, conceded there was smoke and the emission smell is unpleasant. However, with the mild climate, they said the furnace would be off by next week.
Coun. Shane Ferraro questioned if the oil furnace was running optimally and requested the gas station to not use the furnace until the village is provided documentation of inspection.
“Have someone in there to optimize the furnace in the off season,” he said. “These people have some very valid points and if this keeps coming up we are going to have to take action.”
The Fast Gas reps assured council the business would take measures to ensure the furnace was running properly.
Backing up the group’s smoke-related concerns was a Forrest Drive resident who works as a government air quality technician.
He confirmed that the Ministry of Environment and the regional environmental office in Nelson have received numerous complaints in the last month over the smoke and odour emitting from the Fast Gas furnace.
The atypical winter has lead to stagnant air quality conditions across the region, explained Chris Marsh. “We have had these issues of this sort in the past,” he said. “I am here as a resource for council and the village and would like to help you work through this.”
The village is currently seeking legal advice, Morelli told the Trail Times Thursday morning.