By Steve Hubrecht

Invermere has it first-ever civic lands policy. District staff have been working on creating such a policy for several months now, and the final results were approved by Invermere council at its most recent meeting.

In addition to approving the policy, council also received an official civic lands inventory and assessment report at the Tuesday, Jan. 25 meeting.

The district has acquired considerable land holdings over multiple decades, but prior to last week, had never set out an official strategy to guide any decision-making related to these lands. 

The intent of having a policy is to make the district more strategic and purposeful in terms of the purchase, sale, lease, gifting of or development of civic lands in Invermere, noted the report accompanying the proposed policy. 

The policy includes a specific evaluation matrix, to help guide district staff and council in their deliberations on civic lands. Assessment criteria in the matrix include seven broad categories, which include: infrastructure replacement and investment, attainable housing, climate change action plan, financial strategy, economic sustainability, social sustainability, and environmental sustainability.

“The civic land policy is another tool in our toolbox for making decisions when it comes to land, be it municipally owned land or land the municipality is thinking of perhaps acquiring,” Invermere Mayor Al Miller told the Pioneer after the meeting.

The Lake Windermere Resort lands, purchased by the district five years ago for $5 million, are a great example of the kind of thing that would have been helpful to the new policy and the evaluation matrix for, explained Miller.

“We’ve now got this policy, it is very detailed, so it will help keep everybody on track and focussed during land decisions. It will hopefully help keeping us from falling down the endless rabbit holes that come with such decisions, and in doing so result in more efficient decision making,” added Miller.

The civic land inventory gives the district a chance to “strategically look at each piece of land we have, and determine what the best possible uses of it are,” said Miller.