by Erin Perkins
Roly Russell, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Area D/Rural Grand Forks director, hosted his annual town hall meeting at the USCC Centre on March 1. More than 50 people attended despite an evening of conflicting activities in Grand Forks.
During the meeting Russell outlined 2016 as a year full of discussions and refinements to the existing projects he has been working on.
Area D residents can expect very little in tax increases, but some interesting conversations about bylaw enforcement, the implementation of a proposed hotel tax in the East Boundary, the continued implementation of the Kettle River Watershed plan, discussions about what to do with the recently purchased Hardy Mountain Doukhobor historic site, a review of the 2011 agricultural plan, a zoning review and Saddle Lake conservation plans.
Grant-In-Aid Pilot Project
Non-profit organizations counting on some funds from the regional district (RDKB) will want to mark April 30 on their calendars. That’s because Russell has started a new grant-in-aid pilot project.
Right now applications from the over $25,000 grant–in-aid pool for Rural Grand Forks are accepted year round until the money runs out. This year Russell has set $15,000 aside to conduct a pilot project, which will institute a deadline for applications once a year.
“With the (current) grant-in-aid program, there is very little transparency of where those funds ought to go,” Russell said, adding that depending on when an application comes in, organizations can also wait many months before they know if they have the funding or not.
The new grant-in-aid pilot project applications deadline is April 30. Russell will then receive public input on those applications through May, review those recommendations by May 26, bring the proposal forward to the RDKB board and have the funds distributed by early June.
“In May people can articulate what they want the money to go to,” Russell explained. “Public input on projects is important…I’m trying to find a way to balance the needs of the community with value. (It’s hard to know who to give money to) when three months later something more urgent comes along.”
The feedback will be collected via digital feedback and forms located at the RDKB office in Grand Forks.
OCP zoning review
The Area D Official Community Plan (OCP) is ready for the next step. This year all Area D zoning will be reviewed to ensure the present zoning reflects the wishes of the community.
“After the OCP is adopted, we will start to go through the process of reviewing the entire rezoning bylaw,” Russell said. “They will all be reviewed to be in line with the expectations and desires of the community.”
Russell said the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), as upheld by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), still exists in our region but the changes made over the past few years to the ALC will allow social and economic considerations when applications are made for agricultural land use.
The OCP is currently being shared with provincial stakeholders including the ALC and public input is still welcome. The final draft will be presented to the RDKB board for final approval within the next few months.
Saddle Lake dam rehab could be expensive
The RDKB will have to make some serious decisions about what to do with the Saddle Lake reservoir.
Last year the RDKB acquired the tenure over the Saddle Lake reservoir located off of Hardy Mountain Road. To mitigate risks to properties located below the dam, the spill way will need to be fixed and maintained.
Russell said the initial estimate to repair the aging dam is more than $80,000 and will cost the RDKB an additional $10,000 a year to maintain. “There will soon be a conversation about how to shoulder the burden of the operational cost of managing the dam.”
Alternatives to repairing the dam include dropping the water level and turning the area into more or a wetland.
The RDKB hopes to turn the property into a regional park with hiking trails.