I would like to begin this inaugural editorial by thanking the Nelson Star for expanding their editorial submissions to include the rural areas surrounding the City of Nelson.
Area F is an electoral area of the Regional District of Central Kootenay located on the North Shore of Kootenay Lake from Kokanee Creek Provincial Park (12 Mile) to Bonnington. The provincial and federal governments have provided two bridges linking our rural area to the City of Nelson to enhance growth and prosperity for the region. However, local politicians have done their best to turn these bridges into walls to the detriment of both parties.
We have started the dismantling of these walls brick by brick, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. We have a complex relationship with the City of Nelson — sharing some services, delivering some services on our own and partially sharing a few others. The apportionment of cost is different for every one of our shared services and is the result of negotiations between the City and rural director of the day.
Are these apportionments fair? Well, it depends on who you talk to. Rural residents feel we pay too much and City officials feel we pay too little, but the one thing everyone appears to agree on is that the cost of local government is too high and that both parties must find a more efficient way of providing services to our residents.
I believe both governments have heard this message loud and clear and have started the process of finding efficiencies with the aim of reducing costs and providing long term stability to our shared services.
I initially sought office because I felt that the opportunity to reduce costs in our shared solid waste management service was not being actively pursued by either party. The cost of this particular service was spiraling out of control and the more efficient service delivery models employed by our neighbouring regional districts were being ignored.
I am happy to report that we have been able to finally reverse this trend of annual increases to our tax requisition by finding and making a commitment to implement more efficient ways of delivering this service. Over the next five years we will be replacing aging and inefficient infrastructure with modern clean facilities at no additional cost to our taxpayer. This new infrastructure will be paid for by efficiencies achieved by our new service delivery model.
My background in the waste management sector allowed me to identify the inefficiencies in this service, but I believe we have all realized that other services may benefit from formulating a well thought out plan and employing a cooperative approach in the implementation of that plan.
The City of Nelson, Area F and a portion of Area E are currently in the process of formulating a recreation master plan, which will identify the recreation needs of the greater community and how these needs can be addressed cost effectively. We will need your guidance and input.
Other shared services, such as parks, will need a thorough review and a delivery model that will likely result in a substantial revision to past practices.
Our independent services will need to be scrutinized to see if we can find a more cost effective way to deliver these services.
Finally, the way we fund our services will have to be reviewed and changes made to introduce a fairer cost apportionment for all the services enjoyed by Area F residents.
Ron Mickel shares this Wednesday space with his municipal government colleagues from the RDCK and the City of Nelson.