Several items of interest to the Upper Columbia Valley came up during the most recent Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors meeting in Cranbrook.
A delegation from the Lake Windermere Ambassadors made a presentation to the Columbia Valley directors during their Columbia Valley Services meeting on Thursday, December 3rd, asking for $10,000 a year in operational funding.
The board supported the grant, but decided more work needed to be done before the grant could be finalized, and asked RDEK staff to outline several potential options on how to fund the grant.
“The Lake Windermere Ambassadors have been conducting water quality monitoring on Lake Windermere for a number of years, which is great. In addition, they have provided support to the Columbia Lake Stewardship Society for the same work on Columbia Lake,” RDEK Area F director Wendy Booth told The Echo. “This data is important to be able to measure how the lakes are changing over time. Secure funding to continue to do this work, along with other projects, is fantastic for the entire valley.”
The Lake Windermere Ambassadors began more than a decade ago with a mandate to steward Lake Windermere, and have since expanded operations to help out with Columbia Lake.
Grants given out
The RDEK directors also gave several discretionary grants in aid, including $2,500 from the Area F account and $2,500 from the Area G account for the Columbia Valley Community Foundation for its Vital Signs Initiative; as well as $1,000 from the Area F account and $1,000 from the Area G account to Recreation Sites and Trail BC to help fund the organization’s Forster Creek Trail Host program for the coming winter season.
“To be able to provide support to this group (the Community Foundation) for the Vital Signs Initiative is really important. The report that will be produced from the initiative will benefit so many different groups in the Columbia Valley,” said Booth, speaking about the Community Foundation grant.
About the Trail Host grant, she added that “after a successful first year of this initiative, it is great to support this program continuing. It demonstrates that successful partnerships do work.”
Vital Signs is a Canada-wide program being undertaken by community foundations across the country that attempts to measure the vitality of communities and support action to improve the quality of life in these places.
The trail host program was established as a trial project last winter. Host Tania Halik and her avalanche rescue dog Summit were a presence in the Forster Creek area — which sees plenty of recreational use of multiple varieties — answering questions, improving safety and helping guide different user groups to the appropriate parts of the area.
Valley-wide visitor services
During the Columbia Valley Services Committee meeting, the Columbia Valley directors also discussed funding options for Columbia Valley-wide visitor services.
“While final decisions are still pending, it is great to see the Columbia Valley Directors working together and recognizing that we all benefit from a valley-wide visitor services approach. Whether we have tourism assets or our residents work in the tourism industry, each community benefits from a regional approach,” said Booth.
A report from RDEK staff on the matter suggested that a Columbia Valley economic development services area (which is currently in the process of being developed) could be one avenue to fund valley-wide visitor services. Another option is to have each municipality or rural area contribute.