Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Columbia Valley directors are requesting meeting with various provincial ministers during the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention in September.
“While these meetings are brief, usually 15 minutes, they do give us the opportunity to speak directly with the ministers about what is happening in our communities,” said RDEK Area F director Wendy Booth.
This year the RDEK directors are hoping for meetings with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development about the status of Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality; with the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training about the Columbia Valley branding and marketing; with the Environment Minister about the Multi-Material BC program and ensuring adequate recycling services in the East Kootenay; and with the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) about using funds from the sale of Lake Windermere foreshore properties to help improve public access to the lake. Also, the District of Invermere will be (separately from the RDEK) joining a meeting requested by Oak Bay municipality (which is near Victoria) with FLNRO about urban deer management.
The request for the meeting on Jumbo municipality was the idea of Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.
“The main purpose it to ask, now with the Environment Assessment Certificate expired and the substantial start not met, what’s the future of the municipality,” he said. “Resort proponents have indicated they are going to proceed with a scaled-back version of the resort, with fewer than 2,000 bed units. The smaller the projects gets, the smaller the permanent-year round population will be. At 2,000 bed units, which would include all guest and visitors beds as well as second homes, it seems almost impossible that there will be a permanent population large enough to sustain a municipality.”
Taft said that when he’s previously asked the officials with Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development what the minimum number of year-round residents needed for a viable municipality is, the answer he’s been given is 400 — a number Taft said he feels is unlikely to be reached with a 2,000 bed-unit resort.
Taft also said he’s curious to hear new Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Peter Fassbender’s position on Jumbo.
“The previous minister, Coralee Oakes, flat out said we’re going to agree to disagree. She thought it (the municipality) was a good idea. I didn’t. She had a firm line. It will be interesting to see what comes with a fresh set of ears,” said Taft.
The meeting with the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training about the Columbia Valley branding and marketing is to update the minister on progress on the initiative so far, said Booth, adding the project currently has a steering committee that is looking at the concept of a sub-regional destination marketing organization.
Both Booth and Taft said the concerns about the Multi-Material BC — the subject of the meeting the Environment Minister — are shared across the East Kootenay.
“There are concerns with the lack of service of this program in the Regional District,” said Booth. “We met with the minister on this topic last year, without any results, so we will try again. The minister did acknowledge that there were gaps in the program, so hopefully we will get a sense of how those gaps will be serviced.”
According to Taft, a major sticking point is that Multi-Material BC is funding curbside pickup programs but not yellow-bin programs, which are vital is rural areas such as the East Kootenay.
“Right now there is only one (yellow-bin style) depot in Cranbrook getting funding from MMBC, so technically that depot is providing service to the whole East Kootenay and that is pretty ridiculous,” he said.
The meeting with FLRNO is being requested to ask that money from the sale of foreshore land along Lake Windermere be returned to the area in some appropriate form.
“Recently there have been four referrals to the RDEK for the purchase of the foreshore along Lower Lakeview Road. All of these referrals were to legalize the existing use — these were not for new structures,” said Booth. “Improving public access to the lake is supported in many of our policy documents so it makes sense to ask the minister to use the proceeds from the sale to improve access points along the lake.”
Speaking about the urban deer meeting with FLNRO which the District of Invermere will likely attend, Taft added that, in the past, any urban deer-related meetings with FLNRO have been requested by Cranbrook so he’s happy to see other municipalities take up the issue (in this case, Oak Bay near Victoria).
“It’s (the meeting) to follow up on work the UBCM has done in the past on the issue, trying to find out about roles and responsibilities on urban deer,” he said. “It’s great to see Oak Bay step up to help.”
The UBCM will be held in Vancouver from September 21st to 25th.