Several items of interest to the Columbia Valley came up at the most recent Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors meeting, including potential funding for valley-wide visitor services and for the valley’s Permanent Resident and Attraction and Retention Plan.
Following discussion on the matter at the Thursday, February 11th Columbia Valley Services Committee, the RDEK board of directors approved, at their Friday, February 12th meeting, a resolution for a $100,000 grant through the new Columbia Valley economic development services area to provide valley-wide visitor services. The grant (and the valley-wide visitor services model) will not officially go ahead until the Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce endorses the move. (The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce has already endorsed it, and the Radium Chamber will discuss it at its meeting this week). The RDEK board of directors will then adopt the grant as part of its 2016 budget (which it is set to do during the next RDEK directors meeting on Friday, March 4th).
If these both happen, valley-wide visitors services will become a reality this year.
“This project has been in the works for awhile, it is an example of how we can work together for the benefit of the valley as whole. This funding from the Columbia Valley economic development service area enables all properties in the Columbia Valley to contribute to the visitor services,” said RDEK Area F director Wendy Booth, adding that “in the past, only those in the municipalities of Radium and Invermere were contributing. However, the entire valley received the benefits. This model is more reflective of the valley as a whole. In addition, with all four centres managed under one umbrella, this will enhance the visitor experience and reduce duplication. I am pleased to see this initiative move forward.”
The RDEK directors at their February 12th meetin also approved $50,000 in the 2017 budget for projects that may arise from the Permanent Resident Retention and Attraction Plan.
“At the moment, the (Permanent Resident Retention and Attraction report) is not complete so we don’t know if any or what projects might come forward, however this gives us some flexibility to potentially act on them,” said Booth.
Columbia Lake Provincial Park upgrades
At the February 11th Columbia Valley Services Committee meeting, B.C. Parks Kootenay Okanagan regional director John Trewhitt gave a presentation on planned upgrades in Columbia Lake provincial park, a project that has been in the works for a number of years.
“The current proposal includes upgrades to
the road, decommissioning the current road to the lake and turing it into a 500-metre walking trail to the lake.
“This area has significant cultural artifacts for the First Nation community,” said Booth, speaking after the meeting, adding she has a few qualms with the proposal. “These upgrades will limit the opportunity for the community to access the lake. The community of Fairmont should have proper access to the lake at the north end, which is supported in many of our policy documents. I do believe that there could be a compromised option with a turnaround 30 metres from the lake and parking at the top of the road. In that scenario, people of all ages and mobility would be able to access the lake.”
Trewhitt did not give a definitive timetable for the upgrades for Columbia Lake Provincial Park.