Regional Rundown: Volunteers make the Columbia Valley go around

When people think about the way decisions are made by elected officials, they often picture a boardroom

When people think about the way decisions are made by elected officials, they often picture a boardroom or council chambers with elected officials putting up their hands in favour or opposed. It is true that, as Area F Director, I represent the citizens of Area F on the RDEK Board and, together with my 14 fellow directors, vote on matters important to Area F and the region. However, there is a network of volunteers behind the scenes who help provide critical input into those decisions.

In Area F, there are various Advisory Commissions providing me with input that help guide my decision-making. For land use decisions, I have a group of 15 volunteers who meet monthly to review pending applications and make recommendations. This same group provides guidance on allocating Discretionary Grant in Aid funds.

There are three Water Utility Advisory Commissions in Area F for Rushmere, Timber Ridge and Windermere. Each of these Utility Advisory Commissions is made up of five members from the community who provide recommendations to staff and the Area Director on the operation and maintenance of their water system.

In addition, each Electoral Area Director appoints an alternate. Lloyd Wilder has been my alternate for the past seven years. Oftentimes, we will discuss a variety of topics and frequently he acts as a sounding board. All of these individuals are volunteers. Their time, commitment and dedication are truly appreciated.

While these groups are formalized by the RDEK, there are many other volunteers in the valley who provide guidance and support. I regularly meet with many community associations, business groups, stewardship groups and sector groups. It is at these meetings that I see the hard work of so many volunteers as well as the passion they have for the work they do.

The volunteer firefighters and search and rescue groups also provide a valuable service while volunteering their time. In Area F, there are fire departments in Windermere, Fairmont and Panorama. Together, they have 63 volunteer firefighters dedicating themselves to protecting our communities.

The Columbia Valley is blessed to have so many volunteers who are giving back to make the valley a better place for all of us. They make my job easier and more enjoyable. So, thank you!

Wendy Booth is the Regional District of East Kootenay Director for Area F and the RDEK board’s vice chair. She can be reached at or 250-345-6155.