RDCK adds services in new budget

The district is also looking into new office space.

New transit routes are being added by the RDCK this year.

New transit routes are being added by the RDCK this year.

Expansion is the theme of the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s new budget.

The RDCK’s 2017 to 2021 financial plan, which was released March 17, includes a 28 per cent increase to rural administration services for this year. A part-time bylaw officer, an expanded transit budget and more staff for the FireSmart program are the primary reasons for the bump.

The new services will cost an extra $9 a year on a $300,000 home, while total taxation for the district will be $25.7 million.

Stuart Horn, the RDCK’s chief administrative officer, said the new bylaw officer will fill a need in Creston.

“Right now our bylaw officers have to travel from Nelson to Creston in order to deal with anything,” said Horn. “Usually we take a few complaints before sending them out, and then sometimes the complaint has gone stale by the time they get out there. So hopefully that will help with enforcement issues for Areas B and C, and part of Area A.”

The RDCK is also adding routes and service times to its transit map. Horn said 10 new routes will be introduced this year with two more to follow in 2018. The closest to Nelson will feature a bus that accesses Perrier Road.

The new service, which is set to begin in August or September, comes after provincial crown corporation B.C. Transit asked for improvement recommendations in June 2016 following a $12.7 million increase to its 2017 budget. B.C. Transit splits transit costs 50-50 with local governments.

FireSmart meanwhile will hire three students for the summer, while $20,000 in grant funding is also being added to the program’s coverage in Areas D and E (both adjacent to Nelson) as well as Areas F, H, I and J.

The RDCK is also in need of more office space.

Directors are considering adding a new office to house temporary staff. Horn said the district headquarters on Lakeside Drive is too full to accommodate current staff and storage needs.

“That’s kind of the pinch that we feel and we feel it more when it comes to the summer,” said Horn. “Last year we were able to make do over the summer. We rotated people’s desks and took advantage of people’s vacations. This year it’s getting to the point where it’s more and more difficult.”

Directors asked staff for more information before a decision on a new location is made.

They are also considering locations, either at a Selkirk College campus or in Creston, for a new regional fire training centre. Horn said the district currently pays for qualified trainers to visit its volunteers, but that the practice is cost prohibitive and the board would rather train volunteers locally.

This is a corrected story. A previous version stated the services would cost an additional $9 per month on a $300,000 home. The actual cost is $9 per year.