By Steve Hubrecht 

[email protected] 

The provincial government has turned down a Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) resolution that originated in Invermere.

The UBCM has asked the province for more flexibility in its funding requirements for the Growing Communities Fund.

One of the current requirements is that local municipalities own any affordable housing or purpose built rental project that the funds are used for. 

This requirement struck Invermere councillors the wrong way earlier this year, as it prevents them from using the fund for some of the affordable housing efforts currently underway in the district. 

In the past the district has partnered with local nonprofit entities (notably the Family Dynamix Association) and will likely in the future (such as with the Columbia Valley Housing Society), and in these cases the nonprofit, rather than the district, usually owns and operates the affordable housing units.

Invermere councillors outlined that this arrangement makes sense since the nonprofits usually have much more expertise at managing housing, and the district does not have enough money to own and manage affordable housing on any kind of meaningful scale.

They crafted a resolution asking the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to get rid of the ownership requirement. The UBCM approved the resolution by vote, and it was passed on to the ministry.

The ministry responded in a recent letter, telling the UBCM and District of Invermere that “local government ownership is considered crucial to this program as it helps ensure accountability, and the continuity of the maintenance and renewal of the funded infrastructure.”

The ministry said no, but not without burying the sentence at the bottom of a long-winded paragraph.

Invermere councillors and district staff were withering in their assessment of the letter.