The idea of contribution policies in which new development just outside the district boundaries would help pay for amenities inside the boundaries was discussed by Invermere council members at their most recent council meeting,
The idea — and the associated motions (one for the Athalmer public boat launch and one for Invermere’s short portion of the Westside Legacy Trail) — were brought up by Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, who pointed out that since they would apply to areas outside the District of Invermere boundaries, they will need to be decided upon by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK).
“This is just an idea right now, and obviously it won’t go far if the RDEK doesn’t buy into it,” said Taft. “But this has the potential to raise a little bit of money to go toward these projects (the boat launch upgrades and the district of Invermere’s section of the Westside Legacy Trail) to help offset the cost of them.”
Taft pointed out that, as it currently stands, Invermere taxpayers alone are on the hook for both projects, but both the boat launch and the Legacy Trail will be used by many people from just outside the district as well as Invermere residents.
“It’s not clear what kind of support there will be, and the contribution amounts we are recommending won’t,speaking practically, really raise that much money, but it might help a bit,” said Taft, adding that policies would only apply to new developments, not developments that presently exist, and that he thinks that the success of such policies hinge, at least partly, on directly linking the contributions to a specific project.
The upgrades to the public boat launch near Pete’s Marina are expected to cost about $400,000, and while council did not have an immediate estimate for how much it will cost Invermere to build the district’s section of the Westside Legacy Trail (which is the first 800 metres of the trail, stretching from the CastleRock subdivision entrance to the district’s southern boundary), the rest of the paved 25 kilometre trail is projected to cost $5million — or roughly $200,000 per kilometre.
Taft added that the RDEK may be interested in the idea of the boat launch contribution policy given that several subdivision communities on the east side of the lake are apparently keen to establish their own marinas.
The motion for a boat launch contribution policy put forward by Taft outlined recommended contribution policy amounts of $1,000 per unit for new residential developments within a kilometre of the lake; $250 per unit for residential developments more than a kilometre from the lake; and $1,000 per boat or boat slip for new or additional boat moorage and storage on the lake.
The one for a Westside Trail Legacy contribution policy specified that it would only apply to the new residential units three kilometres west or south of the district — corresponding to the land through which the trail will one day pass — and outlined recommended contribution amounts of $1,500 per unit for new residential developments in this area.
“As with the boat launch policy, the trail policy would be directly connected to a specific project and all themoney would go to connecting the paved trail that ends at the CastleRock entrance to the start of the WestsideLegacy Trail, which is 800 metres further on,” said Taft.
Councillor Paul Denchuk expressed surprise that Invermere taxpayers are being asked to directly fund almost a kilometre of the Westside Legacy Trail, while residents of RDEK Area F (through which the bulk of the trail passes) have not been similarly asked to fund the trail.
Councillor Justin Atterbury said it was hard to make a decision about the matter one way or the other, since themotions were added as late items to the council meeting agenda just before the meeting began.
“It’s not enough time to make a good decision. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” said Atterbury, askingif Taft had presented the idea to Area F director Wendy Booth.
Taft replied that he had, and that Booth had asked quite a few questions, but had not voiced an opinion.
In the end, council members voted in favour of Taft bringing the boat launch contribution policy resolution(which Taft said had more a time sensitivity) to the RDEK, and voted to defer the Westside Legacy Trail contribution policy resolution for further discussion at a future committee of the whole meeting.