Valley may have new economic development service area next year

The Upper Columbia Valley may have a new service area — and correspondingly a new tax — designed to facilitate economic development.

The Upper Columbia Valley may next year have a new service area — and correspondingly a new tax — designed to facilitate economic development.

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) has already proposed a bylaw to create such as service area, and Invermere council voted unanimously at its June 23rd meeting to support it.

“Potentially its a way of getting some things in the valley more equitably funded,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, adding that the service area could be used to help fund the valley’s Visitor Information Centres, the new proposed resident attraction and retention plan, valley-wide marketing efforts, and even some of the groups and items for the district for which Invermere already pays a fee for service, such as the Lake Windermere Ambassadors or the Whiteway.

Invermere council members have multiple times in the past pointed out that there are several such services or groups in the valley for which the bulk (or in some cases all) of the funding comes from Invermere, but which provide benefit to the other municipalities and rural areas in the valley.

Councillor Greg Anderson voiced some concern about how much taxes might increase as a result of the new service area, saying, “If it’s going to be an excessive increase I think we should have a discussion about it. If it’s a $300 (per home per year) increase we need to talk about it, but a three dollar (per home per year) increase we don’t need to talk about.”

Taft responded that any tax money flowing from Invermere taxpayers through the new service area for existing groups will be offset by a deduction in how much the district gives that group as a fee for service.

“So if, for instance, $30,000 a year was requisitioned from Invermere taxpayers for the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce through the new service area, then the district would correspondingly lower its direct fee for service that it gives to the chamber by $30,000,” said Taft, adding that the net effect would be Invermere taxpayers would pay the exact same amount, and that money would simply appear under a different heading on their tax bill.

The Chamber, however, would benefit from the new service area since it would not only be getting the $30,000 requisitioned from Invermere taxpayers, but also tax money requisitioned from Radium Hot Springs, Canal Flats, RDEK Area F and Area G taxpayers.

Taft did add that, however, that any new service or groups to get funding through the service area in the future would result in an increase in taxes for Invermere residents, but said that on a per home per year basis, it wouldn’t amount to much.

“To get into the hundreds of dollars a year (in a per home tax increase) you’d have to be adding a service such as swimming pool or a multi-ice rink arena,” he said.

The Upper Columbia Valley RDEK directors have proposed a weighted voting system for the new service area that would see all municipalities or rural areas with more than 2,500 people (Invermere and Area F) get two votes, while those with less than 2,500 people (Radium Hot Springs, Canal Flats and Area G) get one vote.

An economic development services area is one of a handful of services areas that can be established by the RDEK without holding a referendum.

The Upper Columbia Valley economic service area could be up and functional as early as 2016.

Just Posted

The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read