It’s one of those requests that was never going to look that great.
As the Regional District of East Kootenay convened for March, the city of Cranbrook had a request. In February, the city had agreed to pitch in with the rest of the region’s communities and electoral areas to help fund a new homeless shelter to be run by the Salvation Army. Overall, the RDEK agreed to chip in $130,000 over two years for the nearly $17 million construction project, which will include housing for 80 people, including families.
Of that sum, Cranbrook’s cost would be a little under $70,000 — the share for each community being calculated based on that area’s number of dwellings.
All well and good, but at this most recent meeting the city was asking for its money back. According to reports from the city’s Daily Townsman the city had recently realized it had already agreed to waive development cost charges (DCCs) that the shelter would otherwise have to pay before construction to the tune of $138,856.
“The concept is: we’re paying once through the DCCs; should we be paying a second time?” asked mayor Wayne Stetski.
It wasn’t an argument that convinced many, especially our local Columbia Valley reps, who pointed out the city wasn’t facing any large costs because of the construction.
“Yes, you’re losing that money, but are you actually spending that money?” asked Radium mayor Dee Conklin, quite validly.
Pitching in for the Cranbrook shelter is a good move that does have benefits for our area. Like it or not, people in need of housing from our area will pass through the shelter once it’s built. If we’re fortunate, they’ll be able to benefit from the building’s programming and services and return to the valley, though that won’t always be the case.
It’s important people in need in our area have access to these services — even if political realities require them to be placed in a community more than an hour’s drive away.
But the rural communities can’t be expected to buy in if the centre that will benefit the most passes the bucks when it should take the lead.
—The Valley Echo