RDEK directors adopt agricultural plan

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors officially adopted the East Kootenay Agricultural Plan.

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors officially adopted the East Kootenay Agricultural Plan at its most recent meeting.

“I was pleased that the board has adopted the plan, recognizing the importance of agriculture to our well being in the East Kootenay,” said RDEK Area G director Gerry Wilkie, adding he looks forward to  working with the valley farming community to implement the plan.

The plan was adopted during the Friday, October 3rd directors’ meeting as a policy document, after being initiated in 2011 and, since then, developed with the help of an agriculture plan steering committee, which included Mr. Wilkie and four valley ranchers or farmers  — David Zehnder, Eric Rasmussen, Paul Galbraith and Lin Egan.

The plan gives an overview of the challenges and opportunities for agriculture in the East Kootenay and identifies five goals for moving forward: enhancing institutional support; improving economic viability; encouraging agriculture on agricultural land; increase public knowledge and support for agriculture; and developing and implementing a regional agriculture-food system strategy.

The plans also lists key action items to help achieve these goals, including recruiting an agricultural liaison officer for a three-year pilot period; enhancing the existing agricultural advisory committee to include representation from broader RDEK electoral areas; and starting up an East Kootenay-wide association to represent all interests in the agricultural sector.

Precisely which steps the RDEK will move forward with will be determined during the board’s annual priority setting in the new year.

RDEK decides to fund geotechnical assessment of Cold Spring Creek

At the same meeting, the RDEK board of directors also approved spending $25,000 of community works funds money on a detailed geotechnical assessment (including looking at debris flow hazard and risk) for Cold Spring Creek in Fairmont Hot Springs.

“The geotechnical assessment report for Cold Spring Creek is a very important project. We need that report as it will provide recommendations for mitigation to lessen the impact of future debris slide events. We know there is a risk of future events, so this is being proactive,” said RDEK Area F director Wendy Booth. “I’m pleased that we are able to continue to work on this project. The community has been very supportive in the work done so far in creating the service area, which includes all of Fairmont.”

The assessment will likely cost $40,000, with the remaining $15,000 coming from service area tax money. The report will likely be done by the end of December.

Extension requested for water system upgrades provincial grant

The RDEK board of directors also decided to ask the provincial Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for a one-year extension to a provincial grant for water system upgrades in Spur Valley and Edgewater.

“Generally if the project’s ongoing the grant will get renewed for another year, so we’re optimistic this grant will be renewed,” said Area G director Gerry Wilkie, on the extension request.

“They’re (the upgrade projects) both in progress,” said RDEK chief administrative officer Lee Ann Crane. “Every now and then, you just need an extra year (on the grants) to get the construction done.”

Booth continues to represent RDEK on CBT board

Also at the meeting, the RDEK directors re-nominated Booth as the RDEK representative on the Columbia Basin Trust’s board of directors.

“It is an honour to be nominated by my peers to continue as the RDEK representative on the CBT board. Having served on the board for the past three years, it has been a learning experience and I have enjoyed being able to contribute to the social, environmental and economic well being of communities in the basin for today and into the future,” said Booth.

“The Columbia Basin Trust expects its revenue to double by 2015, which mean its going to be giving out a lot more money,” said RDEK chair Rob Gay. “The extra money needs to be spread across the basin in a fair and equitable manner and Wendy will be really good at that.”

Gay cited Booth’s strong business background and her experience as a Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) director-at-large (a role to which Booth was recently re-nominated) as reasons for her re-nomination as representative to the CBT.