Delving into matters of the regional district with Grace McGregor

An interview with the Area C director by reporter Craig Lindsay with a shadow student.

GFSS student Avery Nordman (right) interviews Grace McGregor

On Nov. 6, Grand Forks Secondary student Avery Nordman shadowed me for the day. I was fortunate enough to be able to arrange interviews with Mayor Brian Taylor and Grace McGregor, director for Area C (Christina Lake) for the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).Here is our interview with McGregor, who was very patient and helpful to the young reporter that asked most of the questions.BackgroundGazette: How did you get into politics?“I was born and raised at Christina Lake,” said McGregor. “I’ve been there a long time. We operated a business for some 30-odd years, so we were a bit of a fixture in the community. I started to get involved with the advisory planning committee. That’s a group that the director of the day would put together and ask for their opinions. I also got involved with the variance board and chaired that. When the director said she wasn’t going to run again, I was asked. My immediate response was, ‘I’m not that stupid.’”McGregor said she was eventually convinced that she would make a good candidate for regional director and agreed to run.“This is my eighth year and my third time around,” she said.“The first time I won in an election, the other two times I was acclimated.”She added that the next election is in November 2014 and she plans to run again.Kettle River Watershed PlanGazette: What is happening with the Kettle River Watershed Plan?The Kettle River Watershed committee has been meeting regularly and is discussing plans for the watershed.“Right now, we’re putting together a study to say ‘Okay, what is it we need to do to ensure clean water for the future,’” said McGregor. “And to make sure agriculture, for instance, has enough water to grow crops or do the kind of things they need to do.”Gazette: What kind of challenges do you see coming up?“There are lots of challenges,” said McGregor. “We in the Boundary area have been very accustomed to turning on the tap and having water there. We probably take a lot of it for granted. I think it’s going to be difficult to cut back on consumption of water.”Gazette: Do you see ways of getting awareness out?“We are working on having community meetings throughout the Boundary so everyone can come and share their ideas and talk about what it is or what small differences they can make,” said McGregor. “What little things can you do like, for instance, not running your tap or collecting rain water to water your plants. They’re small and they don’t cost a lot of money.”McGregor said it’s important when you’re asking people to change their behaviour, that it doesn’t cost them a lot of money.“It’s easier for them to buy in if it doesn’t cost them,” she said.Upcoming plansGazette: What kind of plans do you have for Christina Lake?“We’re doing a venture capital committee going right now, and that just started,” said McGregor. “We’ve got a gateway committee that brings all the community non-profit groups together. They sit at the table and report to each what they need to do better and for the community to prosper.”It’s not about making Christina Lake bigger, she added. “We don’t want to be a Kelowna. Christina Lake wants to keep the integrity of the community. There’s a balance there and we all sit at the table and work on keeping that balance.“We also have the stewardship there,” said McGregor. “They have a water management plan for the lake and the surrounding area. I work with them a lot.  They work on maintaining that part of the (Kettle River) watershed and protecting the lake. Because if we lose the lake, we don’t have Christina Lake anymore.”HighlightsGazette: What are the highlights of your career so far?“I think the highlight so far is working with all the volunteers that are so dedicated,” said McGregor. “Quite frankly, when you have a small community like Christina Lake and you can’t work with the volunteers, and you don’t have good volunteers, than you have a problem. We have very, very good volunteers in Christina Lake.”IssuesGazette: What are some of the issues facing Christina Lake?• Senior’s housing “Right now we’re talking about senior’s housing,” said McGregor. “We’ve had a group of volunteers working on senior’s housing for seven years now. It’s been a tough go. I don’t know where that’s going to go.”• Walking bridgeGazette: How are the plans coming to fix the walking bridge? How bad of shape is it?“That’s been in the works for the past few years,” said McGregor. “The reason for that is – if you walk across the bridge as it is right now, and you’re a school child and there’s slush on the road and a logging truck goes by, you’ll probably wear it.”She said the current bridge was not friendly for seniors, for scooters or wheelchairs. The walking area isn’t covered and it’s not protected from the roadway. McGregor said the community relies heavily on walking and it’s important to have friendly trails that connect throughout Christina Lake.“Quite frankly, the Ministry of Transportation, which is in charge of the bridge, doesn’t have the money to upgrade the walking part of the bridge. Because it doesn’t need replacing, it’ll be a long before that happens.”Gazette: What are other ways you can pay for the bridge?“We’re looking at grants,” said McGregor. “We’ve got a parks and recreation service, so there is some taxation money. We also receive some gas tax money. You look at the whole big picture – you have to plan for the future. When grants come up, you have to be ready for those. All your plans, such as engineering, all that has to be in place.”

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