UPDATED: Smienk to contest Faust in RDCK

Former rural Nelson regional district director Josh Smienk will run again in next month’s civic elections — and is taking the present board to task.

Josh Smienk is seeking his old RDCK seat next month.

Josh Smienk is seeking his old RDCK seat next month.

Former rural Nelson regional district director Josh Smienk will run again in next month’s civic elections — and is taking the present board to task.

“I have always enjoyed working with my community, and so many people have approached me asking me to return as the Area E director,” he said in a news release.

Smienk served several terms as regional district director, but did not run in 2008.

He ran unsuccessfully for the provincial Liberals in Nelson-Creston in 2009.

He was also the founding chair of the Columbia Basin Trust.

Area E, which includes Balfour, Harrop, Procter, and Blewett, is now represented by Ramona Faust, who is seeking re-election.

Smienk says he is “troubled” by how the regional district has proceeded with its business while he has been on the sidelines.

“They have minimized opportunities for public input and the public consultations.  They have been telling people what they are going to do, not seeking public input at an early stage to help form direction,” he said.

“Talking to the grass roots at the beginning takes more time but it is an important part of community building and keeping people involved in local government.”

Smienk also said not much has happened in advancing health care since he helped spearhead the current expansion to Kootenay Lake Hospital.

“Little progress has occurred on this file since I left three years ago. Leadership is required to stay on top of this issue,” he said.

Smienk added he is unhappy with the tax burden the area faces.

“In the last three years we have had a 36 per cent increase in property tax without an appreciable increase in service. The answer to every problem is not just to hire more staff to do it for you and put those costs on our taxes.”

Faust said in an email that she regrets Smienk is “building his campaign on negativity.”

“I hope to run a positive campaign based on what the communities and I have been able to achieve over the last three years and our collective hope for the future.”

Faust said the residential tax increase in her area was partly due to a “costly” blue bag system implemented in 2008 while Smienk was director.

She said smaller increases were due to a new dog control service, a contribution to search and rescue, and additional bus runs for the North Shore and Blewett.

However, in 2011, taxes in her constituency actually decreased.

“We are beginning to make headway,” she says.

As for the hospital issue, she said she ensured her area “donated heavily” to the CT scanner campaign to ensure its viability.

“I look forward to working with the City of Nelson in seeing the hospital has the staffing to serve its patients,” Faust said.