Residents of Brisco and Spillimacheen in Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Area G will not be included in the Columbia Valley Recreation Service (CVRS) expansion anytime soon. The RDEK board came to the decision to not include the northern portion of Area G after the August 5th board meeting ended in a split vote regarding the service expansion.
“The CVRS is mandated to fund arenas, outdoor rinks, ball fields, soccer fields, beach parks, trails, and winter use on Lake Windermere,” said Area G director Gerry Wilkie in an email.
The RDEK board was looking to expand the CVRS to all areas of the Columbia Valley- the expansion came after the inclusion of Edgewater and Canal Flats to the services over the last few years.
“The change occurred a few years ago when the decision was made to include the Canal Flats Arena, and, at the time, other Columbia Valley directors and councils agreed to the new service area with the understanding that Area G would follow. At the time, there were other pressing engaging that area and the topic had not yet been addressed with them by their Director (Wilkie), so he requested some extra time,” said Village of Radium mayor Clara Reinhardt in an email.
A meeting was then organized for Area G director Gerry Wilkie to bring the proposal to the residents of Brisco and Spillimacheen.
“This year on June 28, the proposal was presented to the Brisco /Spilly community at a meeting in Brisco attended by about 30 residents. All were adamantly opposed to paying into the service because there are no RDEK recreation facilities in the Brisco/Spilly area, the demographics of their small population base show that only a handful of school-age children live in the area, and distance and winter road conditions preclude them from using the existing services in Invermere and Canal Flats,” said Wilkie.
All residents are taxed the same rate based on a property assessment- the tax rate for CVRS is 19.2 cents/$1000 of assessment. According to Wilkie, if Brisco and Spillimacheen were included, they would contribute 2.6 per cent to the CVRS service and the tax rate would be 18.7 cents/ $1,000.
At the RDEK board meeting, directors Wilkie, Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, and Canal Flats major Ute Juras voted in favour of not expanding the Columbia Valley Recreation Service into Brisco and Spillimacheen, while directors Wendy Booth (Area F) and mayor Reinhardt were opposed.
“I think it is unfortunate that the whole of Area G was not included at the same time. Once you separate out select pockets, it gets harder for the smaller groups to see the benefits of regionalization of some aspects of valley life. The reality is that the financial impact to the service area is not huge, but we know that times change, and perhaps sometime in the future it could become an issue which a new board will have to work through,” said Reinhardt.