‘Unfinished business’ has area directors vying for second term

Both of the Columbia Valley's regional directors are ready to run again.

Both of the Columbia Valley’s regional directors are ready to run again.

Area F director Wendy Booth (whose area includes the communities of Fairmont, Panorama and Windermere) and Area G director Gerry Wilkie (who has Edgewater, Brisco and Spillimacheen in his area) say they’re both ready for a second term on the Regional District of East Kootenay’s board of directors, and are committed to running in November’s municipal and regional elections.

“What I say is, I have unfinished business. Projects that I want to see are just starting, so I want to see them followed through,” says Booth, who is wrapping up her first term as an area director after beating out the previous incumbent in 2008.

“Three years may seem like a long time, but the first year you’re really just getting your feet under you and it takes a long time to understand how the processes work. And a lot of projects from the previous terms were not finished, so you couldn’t start new projects until those ones were finished, which is fair enough.”

It’s a sentiment Wilkie — also a first-time director, who ran unopposed — echoes.

“It takes a while to pick up all the aspects of the Local Government Act and just to get to know your way around getting things done. I felt fairly happy with the way things went in the first three years, but I think I’d be able to contribute more the next time around having had that experience,” he says.

With some projects started and not yet completed and others still on the to-do list, both directors have a slate of items they’d like to finish up or put in motion.

For Booth, two items of unfinished business involve water: there’s the zoning plan for Lake Windermere, based on recommendations from the recently-completed Lake Management Plan, as well as the regional district’s plan to bring potable water to Windermere residents — though Booth says she’s not yet sure what the next stage for that project is, following a failed referendum in the community earlier this summer.

She’d also like to use a second term to introduce more economic development initiatives for the region, and get wildfire mitigation work underway.

“The wildfire interface, we know that is probably the biggest threat to this region,” she says. “We’re just in the process of completing a community wildfire protection plan for the region, so once that’s complete we’ll have the opportunity to look at where the priority areas are and allocate funds to get mitigation methods out there.”

Wilkie, meanwhile, wants to continue work on an agricultural plan for the East Kootenay, which he says would help preserve farmland  “so it’s not lost to other purposes. That’s going to become increasingly important, I think — small scale food production especially — as our ways and the climate change.”

He’s also hoping the provincial government can be convinced to get involved in creating a recreational access management plan for the valley’s backcountry — something every region in the East Kootenay except the Columbia Valley already has.

“A lot of conflicts develop between motorized and non-motorized operations, between tenures, between recreational users and agricultural users,” he says. “Once you get a plan to guide all forms of recreational activity in a given area, especially when you can bring people together and achieve that plan by consensus, then you end up having a much better world for everybody.”