At Tuesday’s (May 22) council meeting, the District of Invermere (DOI) council voted unanimously to adopt a new policy that will mean money back in the district’s pocket for making purchases.

In adopting the policy, council has agreed to join the Greater Vancouver Purchasing Group, which currently has 62 municipalities as members.

By joining the group, the DOI will receive rebates in the form of a cheque for purchases made using credit cards as a result of the group’s combined purchasing power.

As more members join, the rebate amount goes up, said DOI financial services director Karen Coté.

The credit cards will be entrusted to district staff with strict spending restrictions and limitations in effect. Currently, district staff already make credit card purchases, Coté said.

By joining this group, the DOI stands to make three to five thousand dollars annually from the rebate program. The program will also cut down on paperwork and processing fees. Factoring in these savings as well as the rebates, the program could mean an extra $10,000 for the district annually, Coté told council.

District staff would still have the option of using other forms of payment when necessary, she said.

Official Community Plan update eyed

An exciting opportunity is in store for the District of Invermere should it be selected as one of the recipients of an Integrated Community Sustainability Planning Grant.

Council voted unanimously to submit an application under the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Gas Tax Agreement Innovations Fund for the grant in the amount of $186,446.40.

If awarded in full, the grant would not only offer the opportunity to update the Official Community Plan (OCP), but align it with the Imagine Invermere Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP).

Chief administrative officer Chris Prosser said it took three weeks to put together a work plan for the project, which was developed by district staff with assistance by the Whistler Centre of Sustainability (WCS), the non-profit organization that provides sustainability planning and implementation to the Resort Municipality of Whistler as well as communities across Canada.

The UBCM fund has $1.4 million earmarked for all of B.C. and the last time the grant was offered was in 2008, at which time 10 communities were selected as recipipents and received substantial amounts, Prosser said. He was quick to point out that a $200,000 work program on the OCP wouldn’t normally be an option, “but we didn’t want to miss this opportunity,” he said.

OCPs normally have a life expectancy of five to ten years and Invermere’s OCP — adopted in 2001 — is due for a review anyway, Prosser said.

If the requested amount was only partially rewarded, then partial funding of the work program would be an option — it would just mean a less robust process, Prosser said.