Regional Rundown: A collective approach for the Columbia Valley

The most important part of my job has been working with people, both individually and with their communities

The Valley Echo editor suggested the final column in the Regional Rundown series be directed to the upcoming local government elections in November this year.

This gives me the opportunity to announce I’m putting my hat in the ring for re-election as the director for Area G,  representing the communities and rural areas of Wilmer, Dry Gulch, Edgewater, Brisco and Spillimacheen on the Board of Directors of the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK).

Over the years, I have been pleased to get to know many of the people in the region and share their appreciation of the rural way of life, their knowledge of the land base, and their understanding of the importance of conserving and sustaining the resources we depend on amid the stunning environment of the Columbia Valley. In this respect, I would like to complete some of the current RDEK projects I’m involved in: the Agricultural Plan, a strategy for economic diversifiction and social stability in the Columbia Valley, a Community Forest, planning for recreational use of Crown Land, and improving the community bus service.

The  RDEK directors in the Columbia Valley have worked well together in beginning to establish  the socioeconomic benefits of a collective Columbia Valley approach to provision of some services. So far, this has resulted in a new management arrangement known as the Columbia Valley Rural Fire and Rescue Service for the Windermere, Fairmont, Edgewater and Panorama Fire Departments, and amalgamation of the Canal Flats and Invermere Arenas and the Edgewater outdoor rink under the Columbia Valley Recreation Service Area.

A study of amalgamating other recreation facilities such as ball fields, soccer fields, beach parks and trails into a valley-wide service is underway. In the spirit of provision of valley-wide services and after consulting with people in our communities, a commitment has been made by myself, Area F director Wendy Booth and the Councils of Radium and Canal Flats to a modest tax contribution (in Area G on an average property tax assessment of $200,000, it’s about six dollars per year or three cents per $1,000) toward funding of the new Columbia Valley Centre in Invermere. This funding is for five years only, after which it must be reviewed. The multi-use facility will benefit the entire valley in providing a building large enough to  hold conventions and conferences, touring and local performing arts productions, high school graduation dinners and other valley-wide events. As in the past, operational funding for the community halls in Brisco, Edgewater and Wilmer will continue.

The most important part of my job has been working with people, both individually and with their communities, in dealing with RDEK services, bylaws and policies and the often overlapping provincial policies and statutes. I have been fortunate in establishing a very good relationship with the knowledgable, committed and helpful staff throughout the RDEK departments. Please call me at 250-347-9841 or email gdwilkie@cyberlink.bc.ca. I would be pleased to discuss RDEK issues and services with you at any time, and  I look forward to representing Area G for another term.

Gerry Wilkie is the Regional District of East Kootenay director for Area G, and can be reached at gdwilkie@cyberlink.bc.ca.

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