Nelson now has more voting clout at the Regional District of Central Kootenay table but neither the mayor nor the chair think it’s a big deal.
Due to increases in population on the 2011 census, Nelson, Castlegar, and Creston, and one of the rural areas around Castlegar will each get more say on resolutions requiring a weighted vote — those affecting operation and administration of services, contracts, or the financial plan.
Voting units are based on populations of 2,500. Anything less than 2,501 is attributed one vote. Each additional 2,500 is worth another vote.
For Nelson, whose population increased on the last census from 9,258 to 10,230, it means a voting strength of five instead of four; Castlegar, which jumped from 7,259 people to 7,816, gets four votes instead of three; and Creston, which went from 4,826 to 5,306 people, now has three votes instead of two.
Area I, which includes Pass Creek, Thrums, Shoreacres, and Brilliant cracked the 2,500 mark, so it gets two votes instead of one. All other municipalities get one vote each, while the rural areas get one or two each.
As a result, the overall balance of power has shifted to the municipalities, whose combined 18 votes outweigh the rural electoral areas’ 17. Previously the split was 16 to 15 in favour of the rural areas.
But Nelson mayor John Dooley doesn’t think it matters much.
“Not really,” he said. “I suppose in some cases it could make a difference, but overall we have to look at the issues and vote according to what works best for the board and the municipality.”
Dooley added he doesn’t see an urban-rural divide on the board. “There has been in the past, but over the last few years we’ve been working issue by issue and I think overall it’s a fairly cohesive group.”
Chair John Kettle agreed, noting with the exception of Nelson, Castlegar, and Creston, the municipalities have smaller populations than the rural areas.
“I don’t think it changes the dynamics of the board at all,” he said. “We are a unique regional district but I don’t see any change in the way we approach business.”
While close votes are rare, Kettle said they could happen during budget time.