Funding formula for 13th Avenue work, STR research, civic land strategy policy to come before council in 2022

By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

Invermere council recently gave an update on progress on its strategic priorities.

The update, during the council meeting of 2021, came at the urging of local resident, John Rouse, who has been seeking updates from council on various initiatives, particularly its efforts to deal with short term rentals (STRs), at multiple council meetings throughout the fall.

Invermere’s current top five ‘now’ strategic priorities (i.e. its most pressing strategic priorities) are (in descending order): the 13th Avenue Infrastructure replacement project (including developing a funding formula for phase two of the project, which is set to occur in 2022; a civic land strategy (the current step is conducting an assessment); attainable housing (current step is researching best practices on dealing with STRs and long term rental shortages); creating a climate change actions priorities report; and developing a draft asset management financial strategy.

Invermere Chief Administrative Officer, Andrew Young outlined to Rouse and others in the audience at the Dec. 14 meeting that in terms of the first priority, a lot of work has been done on 13th Avenue this year, and that a funding formula for future planned work in 2022 was brought forward to council this fall, and will likely get second and third reading during a council meeting this January.

For the second priority, civic land strategy research was conducted by district staff through September, and “that work is almost complete” said Young, adding a proposed policy will likely come before council in 2022.

District staff are currently conducting research on STR practices and dealing with long term rental shortages (the third priority), which also will be brought to council in the new year, explained Young, adding that for climate change (the fourth priority), a detailed report was presented to council at the December committee of the whole meeting, “where it was very well received by council.”

On the fifth priority, the draft asset management financial strategy, only initial work has been done so far, as other issues had popped up throughout the fall that required more immediate attention, concluded Young.

Rouse thanked staff for the update and thanked them also for the new custom of including a copy of Invermere’s strategic priorities at the top of each council meeting agenda, but suggested the district needs to do more to keep the community informed on its progress on these priorities, and that it shouldn’t take prodding from the public to get a regular update.

“You don’t seem to feel it necessary to convey to the community where you are on the priorities,” said Rouse. “It doesn’t need to be overly detailed. Just some information on ‘are you making progress on this priority or not?’ You can’t tell from this (the copy of the priorities at the top of the agenda). It would be very useful to have some kind of report as to where you are, at least periodically.”

Invermere Councillor Gerry Taft responded it may be difficult to communicate an accurate timeline on many of the priorities, as the work involved is complex, involves many steps, and consequently it is hard to say exactly how long the whole effort will take.

Rouse replied that a detailed, overarching timeline for each priority is not what he’s suggesting, but instead “why not simply communicate where you are in the process. A roadmap would be useful.” He noted that the general public often says it looks as though council is doing very little on a given priority, and hypothesized that this is not because council isn’t doing any work. 

But rather because council does not communicate very much to the public about the work it is doing.

“The community wants to know,” said Rouse.

Invermere councillor Kayja Becker agreed with Rouse, saying “things actually happen if you read through all the council documents, but it would probably be helpful to have a one page update (on the priorities).”

Councillor Greg Anderson noted that the next formal strategic priorities meeting is in March and suggested that council and staff write up a report on progress, and the post it online.

“I think, with all due respect, March is a little late,” said Rouse.

Other council members and district staff chimed in, most supportive of the idea of better communicating progress on the strategic priorities to the public, but no resolution on exactly what to do, or when and how to do it was proposed before the meeting ended.