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Selkirk College may join Castlegar city limits

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The City of Castlegar may expand its boundaries to take in the Selkirk College campus to help clear the way for student housing.

The city says an engineering report found the on-site water supply at the college “insufficient and unreliable,” and that it would require costly upgrades to serve any expansion.

After looking at various options, the provincial government told the college to ask the city to tap into its water system. However, doing so would require a boundary extension. The college currently sits in Area J of the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

Although the initial request was made in 2019, it finally hit the council agenda this week, where staff were directed to move ahead with the proposed restructuring.

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A staff report says the capital costs would be borne by the college. However, it adds the province has “extensive consultant requirements,” which includes seeking approval from residents through a counterpetition. Planner Meeri Durand expected it could take six months or more to complete.

Moving the land to city boundaries would not have any tax implications, however, as the college is exempt from paying property taxes.

When the matter came to council this week, councillor Cherryl MacLeod asked about the cost of the consultation process. Durand said it’s primarily staff time, which she estimated at 280 hours, but she added it depends on the amount and type of feedback they receive.

Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff asked when the deadline would be. City manager Chris Barlow said they are trying to do it as quickly as possible, but they are working with the college on interim solutions if the student housing is completed before the boundary expansion is concluded.

The plans call for a three-storey building on the Castlegar campus with 112 student beds. Another housing project is also planned for Nelson’s Silver King campus.

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