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Castlegar neighbourhood asks city to take over street

Residents of Castlegar’s Emerald Green neighbourhood are asking the city to assume maintenance of their street and its infrastructure.

Ken Greenwood appeared before council this week, explaining they would like to relinquish responsibility for Emerald Crescent and dissolve their strata, converting their properties to fee simple lots.

If approved, it would mean the city taking over snow plowing, as well as maintaining fire hydrants, street lights, and sanitary sewer lines.

Greenwood said residents are willing to do what is required to bring the existing infrastructure up to the city’s standards as they are “quite motivated” and have enough money set aside in a reserve.

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Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff noted residents of the 61-home subdivision developed in the mid-1990s made a similar request a number of years ago but nothing became of it.

City manager Chris Barlow explained Emerald Green is one of at least half a dozen “bare land stratas” in Castlegar, designed when the developer couldn’t or didn’t want to meet city rules around lot sizes. Because the developer owns all of the infrastructure, they are allowed to use smaller lots and road widths than would otherwise be permitted.

However, it means residents are on the hook for maintaining that infrastructure. Greenwood said residents feel they are footing the bill for an extra level of bureaucracy while paying the same taxes and utility bills as other residents.

Greenwood told council strata fees are set at $252 and will rise to $264 next year, but even then may be too low. Four volunteers look after the strata’s responsibilities.

Barlow said when the strata recently approached the city, staff did some preliminary investigation before asking them to appear as a delegation to see if council would even entertain the idea.

Council agreed to direct staff to do further preliminary work on the matter. Barlow said they will report back on the staff time and cost implications required before council decides whether to proceed. He said the process could take at least a year.

He cautioned that council’s decision would set a precedent for other bare land stratas in the city that might also want to dissolve and let the city take over their infrastructure.

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