IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Distinguishing between rural Grand Forks and the city

It is becoming more evident to RDKB rural directors that their role in local politics is misunderstood and under-rated.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sorrow to the Fehr family for the loss of their son and the damages incurred by many residents of the area due to the July 20 wind storm.

The force and swiftness, with which Mother Nature can act is almost beyond the mind being able to comprehend.

Over the years, it is becoming more and more evident to rural directors that their role in local politics is misunderstood and under-rated.

It seems an automatic reaction to contact the mayor of an area with concerns before thinking, “Wait a minute, I do not reside in or this is not a concern in the city limits but I am in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) area.”

It has been noted time and again that these calls are not re-directed to the director of the area either.

Also confusing to some is where these boundaries actually are. With the boundaries being different for local, provincial and federal representatives, this adds to the confusion.

Each level of government also has different policies on how they operate.

Some have funds accessible at a moment’s notice while others are run through specific service funds.

As a perfect example, recently with requests to reduce or excuse fees at the landfill for fallen trees, where it would have to come before the board of the entire regional district at a monthly meeting, Grand Forks city council passed a motion at a meeting and was able to obtain funds at a moment’s notice.

A rural director has a huge role to play in that they act as both mayor and council for their area.

They do have an advisory committee they appoint, but their role is to advise on planning applications.

They can also make the director aware of concerns, however.  An RDKB area director needs to know where to direct concerns brought to them. They need to be familiar with how their policies and procedures pertain to a particular subject and who to contact for an answer, just to name some of our roles.

As we attend workshops, conferences etc. on a higher level, we see more and more the disconnect toward the regional district level of government.

References are made toward municipalities and do not always fit the mould of the regional areas.

My favourite saying is Rural BC is going to pot … and not the kind you smoke, but it is evident to all who take to the major highways in our area that it is just another example of funding stopping at the Okanagan for projects.

Beyond that B.C. does not seem to matter.

Many of the initiatives that come forward do not fit the regional level.

It has become our mantra at the elected area director sessions to be recognized on the same level as municipal elected officials are.

I hope this will assist our constituents when needing an answer or having a concern to better understand who to contact.

RDKB Area D encompasses the rural area surrounding the City of Grand Forks to Wilgress Lake west and to the edge of Billings east and north to Burton.

You can contact me, Irene Perepolkin at 250-442-3817.

Area C (Billings to Paulson Bridge) residents can call Grace McGregor at 250-447-7118.

If in doubt call the RDKB toll free at 1-800-355-7352.

– Irene Perepolkin is RDKB Area D director