The Village of Canal Flats held a regular council meeting on June 22nd, addressing a full slate of issues, ranging from bike trails to recreation services.
One of the first items covered was the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK)’s Columbia Valley Economic Development Service.
The program involves municipalities within the valley contributing tax dollars to a variety of development projects that affect them.
“It seems to me that a lot of economic development is happening up the valley from us, and I am just wondering if we would benefit from this if it is being tacked onto our taxes,” Councillor Marie Delorme said.
To clarify, Mayor Ute Juras said municipalities will only have to pay for projects that affect them.
For example, Canal Flats would not have to contribute to an infrastructure project between Windermere and Invermere.
“It will be up to me to advocate for us,” Juras said.
Councillor Paul Marcil voted to accept Canal Flats’ entrance into the service and the three other councillors chose to abstain, inadvertently passing the proposal.
Westside Legacy Trail
Councillors discussed whether or not to continue supporting the Westside Legacy Trail, for which Canal Flats gets one vote within the RDEK.
The project is meant to be a multi-use, non-motorized, paved trail connecting Invermere and Fairmont.
Eventually, the plan is to further connect the trail to Canal Flats, for which the council has shown support in the past, but the current proposal from Greenways Trail Alliance in front of council had no mention of Canal Flats.
“Greenways in planning on bringing the trail all the way south and all the way north, but there is nothing in here for connecting Canal Flats,” Delorme said. “This is basically only good for Fairmont and Invermere.”
Juras replied by reminding Delorme that the project would likely happen with or without Canal Flats’ support.
“Even if Canal Flats votes against this, it will probably go through,” Juras said.
The vote ended in a contentious split, with Juras breaking the tie by voting to approve Canal Flats’ support of the project. Marcil and Delorme voted against and councillors Karl Sterzer and Erin Gornik voted for.
Master Recreation Plan
Council received a report by Marcil and Delorme about the Master Recreation Plan Committee Terms of Reference. To build a Master Recreation Plan, Delorme and Marcil plan to do much of the footwork with a small committee that a professional planner would regularly do, to keep expenses fairly low.
“I still feel that there should be stakeholders on the committee, rather than just consulting with them,” Juras said.
In response, Delorme said community members would not be interested in the extensive research that is going to have to be done by the committee.
“A planner would cost $30,000 and we have $12,000,” Delorme said. “What we are trying to do as champions of this is to get the scope of the work down to $12,000.”