The Village of Slocan wants to pull out of a regional parks service following the loss of tax revenue from its now-demolished sawmill.
If approved, the move would save the community about $3,000 per year, but would have to be made up by the other participants in the service — New Denver, Silverton, and rural Area H.
In a letter to the regional district last month, mayor Madeleine Perriere said village council “cannot justify any balanced rationale for the village to remain” in the service.”
Slocan councillor and regional director Hillary Elliott told 103.5 The Bridge the decision was not made lightly. “We are a community in transition and have worked hard to be proactive in our decision making knowing the change in revenue for the village would happen one day,” she said.
Elliott said while Slocan has supported regional initiatives, she hopes the other communities in the parks service can understand their plight, “as the impact to village residents is far greater than the total taxation to the three remaining participants if we were allowed to withdraw.”
The move would give them more flexibility to provide for their own services, such as the Slocan boat launch and beach, she added.
According to a staff report, if Slocan leaves the service, Silverton and New Denver would each have to pay an extra $200 based on assessment, while Area H would pay another $2,600.
However, as the regional parks bylaw contains no withdrawal provision, it’s unclear whether Slocan can leave without permission from the other members.
Rural director Walter Popoff said he hasn’t decided whether to support Slocan’s request and will first consult his residents and park commissions. He said while the actual dollars involved are small, he’s more concerned about the idea of withdrawing from a service that everybody benefits from.
“I would prefer they stay in the service,” he said. “It’s a longstanding goal to have our services joined with the three villages and Area H. But I also realize they are in financial difficulty and hopefully they can rebound.”
Directors have been asked to submit letters outlining their positions by April 30.
Sites funded by the Slocan Valley parks service are the Rosebery parklands, Galena trail, Bigelow Bay park, Winlaw nature park, and Crescent Valley beach park.