By Kate Irwin,
Recreation services could get a lot cheaper for Canal Flats residents by 2015, if the village joins up to a new recreation service area currently being debated by the Regional District of East Kootenay.
On Thursday, July 5th, an amendment to adjust the current recreation service bylaw for the valley was put up for discussion at the Columbia Valley Directors Committee Meeting in Cranbrook. The amendment would see the two current service areas, one serving the north and one serving the south, joined together.
This would mean all towns, villages and rural dwellings, except those in Area G, will pay their recreation taxes into a collective pot to help fund maintenance of the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena and the Canal Flats Arena.
“Unless something drastic happens I don’t see why we shouldn’t move forward,” said Ute Juras, Mayor of Canal Flats, at Thursday’s meeting.
The current Columbia Valley and Canal Flats recreation services areas, created in 1971 and 1976 respectively, establish which pot valley residents pay into to support one of the valley’s two arenas. Money is raised through recreation tax, which costs 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for residents north of Fairmont (excluding Area G) and 65 cents per $1,000 for Canal Flats residents.
The change would see a single service area for the entire valley, excluding Area G, which would broaden the tax base and allow the recreation tax rate to fall in the village.
The question of whether to extend the service area into Edgewater and Area G was raised at Thursday’s meeting.
“Going way, way back in time … we tried including Edgewater — we’re going way back,” said Lee-Ann Crane, Chief Administrative Officer for the regional district. “Through the recreation society at the time, which was under a different name, they determined through their conversations and meetings … that it was going to go down in flames if Edgewater was included … It was simply a matter of thinking the numbers wouldn’t work.”
The debate on whether to include the small community and rural Area G residents will be revisited in the future, assured Gerry Wilkie, Area G director.
The bylaw amendment received a first, second and third reading before the full regional district board on July 6th. Next, each municipal council and the area directors must assent, at which time the amendment will go to the province for approval. If granted, it should return to the board in around two months for adoption or rejection.