Welcome to Area E’s first column in the Nelson Star. I’d like to thank the Nelson Star for including a regional focus in the paper.
The new term for Regional District of Central Kootenay directors has been busy. After the municipal elections, we proceeded into preparing the budget. It was a highly consultative process with three opportunities for the public to take part and ask questions. Directors embarked on a process of give and take and I think the end result served the taxpayer well.
Area E has led the electoral area pack in assessment values since 2007, contributing the third highest dollar value in taxes into the RDCK. What many residents in Area E are unaware of is because of the high value of their homes, despite the taxation they pay, they have far fewer tax supported services than other electoral areas. Other areas have tax supported museums, libraries, ski hills, bridges, community halls and the list goes on. In Area E many of these amenities are owned by societies and managed by volunteers and we owe them a debt of gratitude for the work they do.
While still in the budget process we turned our mind to Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives. Area E uses a community committee to preview applications and a public vote to determine funding levels for applicants. Some of the smaller projects received almost all their funding while larger projects received a portion of their request. Of course there were triple the value in applications as there were funds and therefore some very worthwhile projects that could not be funded by the CBT Community Initiatives will receive partial or complete funding from Area E’s portion of the RDCK Community Development Fund subject to board approval. All applicants will receive formal notice of funding in June.
Current activities in Area E have also been taking my attention. This week, the Advisory Planning Commission for Area E, RDCK staff and I will begin hosting community open houses to receive input on a Draft Official Community Plan for Area E. Area E is the only electoral area in the RDCK where there is no community plan for at least part of the area. The process began in 2009 with a series of public meetings, newsletters and a community survey sent out in 2010. The survey had a 40 per cent response return rate and indicated that the majority of Area E residents (81 per cent) thought that growth and development should be managed in Area E. A large number of people felt ready to support a community plan (43 per cent) while others felt they needed more information (37 per cent) while 19 per cent said no to planning.
Considering the overall perspective of Area E residents, a draft Official Community Plan and maps were prepared and are now ready for input, correction and review by the community. Map data is taken from BC Assessment Authority and provincial government information and may not completely reflect the current land use, so it’s important the community come out and comment.
As with any new project, community planning is not without controversy. The rumour mill makes accusations — such as planning will increase taxes or control what a person can do on their property. An official community plan does the opposite. An official community plan states to the outside world: “this is our community now, this is what we value and this is how we want it to grow in the future.” It’s has no tax implications.
A community plan is not zoning which is a separate process, more prescriptive in identifying permitted land use and development characteristics. Currently when residents call the RDCK office to complain about local or provincial land use issues such as placement of the RDCK Transfer Station in Area E, they are shocked that all we can tell them is that there is no community plan for Area E and therefore there is nothing to indicate the values and character of the community. For more information and meeting schedule go to: www.rdck.bc.ca/development/planning/projects/area_e_land_use_planning.html. Or call 250-352-6665 planning department.
Stay tuned for recreation survey meetings to be scheduled for late May and new bus shelters on the North Shore.
Ramona Faust is the RDCK director for Area E