September 2018

Exercise Your Right to Vote

Last Saturday, September 15th was International Day of Democracy while September 14th was the closing of the nominations for the 2018 General Local Elections in BC. As Canadians, we are fortunate to live in a democracy, with the opportunity to contribute and participate in the governance of our local communities.

While voter turnout in local government elections has been in decline in recent years, it is generally higher in our region compared to the province. In 2014, average voter turnout across the Columbia Basin-Boundary region was 41%, compared to only 33% for municipalities and 23% for regional district electoral (unincorporated) areas across BC. The highest voter turnout in our region in the 2014 election was in Greenwood, where 70% of eligible voters cast a ballot. The lowest was in East Kootenay Area C at 17%. In 2014, 14 Area Directors and three municipal councils were elected by acclamation (no other candidates ran for the positions). For full details on community-level voter turnout in past local government elections, check out the  2017 State of the Basin report [http://datacat.cbrdi.ca/sites/default/files/attachments/2017SOTB_FullReport.pdf].

For the 2018 local government elections, there are 341 candidates running for positions across the municipalities and regional district electoral areas of the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. That’s up from 319 candidates who ran in the 2014 election. A village or town will elect a mayor and four councillors, while a city or district in our region will elect a mayor and six councillors. Each regional district electoral area elects one Director. Civic Info BC provides a  list of candidates [https://bc.localelections.ca/candidates/index_m.html] for all local governments.

Elections are the basic democratic practice for selecting the people who will make decisions on our behalf – affecting the well-being of residents, businesses, and community groups. Voter turnout is the most common and easily measured indicator of political participation and level of civic mindedness in a community. Studies generally show that voter turnout is lower among younger people, those with lower levels of education, and those that experience lower levels of economic well-being. These findings suggest that key population groups are inadequately represented in the political process and the policies that stem from it. Further, there are important social and economic barriers (e.g., available time, transportation) that affect some people’s level of civic engagement.

This fall, exercise your right to vote with the local government elections, and take time to learn about the  Referendum on Electoral Reform [https://elections.bc.ca/referendum/]. The referendum is being held by mail from October 22 to November 30. All registered voters can participate in this important decision that will impact the voting system for future provincial elections.

Transitioning to the New Rural Cannabis Economy

Recreational cannabis will officially be legal to cultivate, produce, distribute, retail and consume on October 17, 2018. Join this free  Rural Policy Learning Commons webinar [https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FRLCHzBCS-eh5QDxbWeNrA] on September 27 to explore current research related to the socio-economic impacts of this momentous policy change.

Canadian Rural & Remote Housing & Homelessness Symposium

Being held October 24-26 in Canmore, Alberta, this  symposium [https://www.ardn.ca/ardn-initiatives/canadian-rural-and-remote-housing-and-homelessness-symposium-2018/] is the first of its kind in Canada. Topics will include research, policy, and best practices related to rural and remote housing and homelessness.

Selkirk College RDI Focus is a monthly e-blast highlighting stories of well-being in our region. You are receiving this email because you have attended an RDI event or have subscribed to receive updates on RDI.

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Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute

Selkirk College

301 Frank Beinder Way

Castlegar BC  V1N 4L3

Long term planning for rural health needs

REGIONAL DISTRICT OF CENTRAL KOOTENAY2018 UBCM Minister Meeting

Briefing Notes

Local Government: Regional District of Central KootenayMinistry: Health, Honourable Adrian Dix
Meeting ID: 60

TOPIC 1: RURAL HEALTH CARE PLANNING AND RURAL TRANSPORTATION

Long term planning for rural health needs requires more support and communication between health authorities and hospital district boards. Services are moving to larger centres and access to services is becoming more and more difficult for residents.

The current transportation criterion is not adequate for rural health needs. Drive times are much longer through mountain passes and in the winter and do not align with the “as the crow flies” measurement used by health authorities for the minimum distance to acute health centres. With bus service in the province all but disappearing, those who cannot drive and do not have support people to assist them do not have the ability to get to appointments or surgeries. Further, if transported in an ambulance they then become stuck at the hospital with no transportation home.

This makes access to health care significantly inhibited for many people in the RDCK and without change or new ideas, will continue to worsen.

page1image11096

The RDCK Board respectfully requests that the Ministry change the minimum distance to health care centres and rural centres be based on driving distance rather than an ‘as the crow flies’ measurement.

The RDCK Board respectfully requests that the Ministry request that Interior Health engage the Hospital Districts in its service area improve service delivery in rural areas through long term planning and communication to meet the needs of their rural communities.

Contact:

Stuart Horn

Chief Administrative Officer

shorn@rdck.bc.ca

and from your Area D Director:

For a recap of what I have been up too- my Facebook page is a great place to find my activity for the past 4 years. Or, stay tuned. I will be providing more updates as we head into the election season.

Next week, I am at our annual Union of BC Municipalities Convention. I will be meeting with the following ministries:

Ministry of Health- as board chair for the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District. We are requesting changes to policy that affects rural health care, an update on the direction of primary care in BC and increased support for rural transportation given centralization of essential services and the loss of the Greyhound service.
I am a presenter for a session about Regional Hospital Districts.
Also, small water systems. A constant issue in rural areas is lack of support and capacity for remote community based water systems. The regulations are cost prohibitive when you have few participants spread through a vast landscape.

Ministry of Agriculture- most relentless issue I have not given up on as I have never received a response, amending the meat inspection regulation to not be punitive to rural producers.

Ministry of Housing- issues with BC Building Code specific to the owner builder certification process. This is being led by Director Faust.

Ministry of Forests-the failures of the professional reliance model and watershed protection. As well, wildfire mitigation in the Wildland Urban Interface and how we can increase our work on this important prevention work. I am working to combine a watershed sustainability plan with landscape level fuel mitigation planning for Argenta Johnsons Landing, so will hopefully get a chance to ask more details about the provision in the Water Sustainability Act to be granted permission to do the watershed planning.

Plus the packed schedule of the convention itself. Never a dull moment in local government!

If you have questions, comments, concerns- please email me at awatson@rdck.bc.ca

Area D Directors update…..

Here, for your reading pleasure, is my Director’s Report for Summer 2018. A snapshot of the work I am doing for Area D.  Aimee.

Summer Update:
1. Rural Dividend Application
The Kaslo and Area D Economic Development Commission has made our third application to the Rural Dividend Fund and we should know by November 2018. The previous two were not successful. However, with funding from Area D, the agriculture component has been an active program for two years and has been administered by LINKS.
Our 2018 application has the following two components:
Program #1 Community and Economic Development Program
• Delivers business, retention and expansion (BR&E) services
• Community Marketing Strategy

Program #2 Agriculture Innovation
• Farm Internship program
• Capital Supports for Farmers
• Organic Waste Diversion study (developing a sub-regional composting program)

2. Lardeau Park
We released a request for quotes (RFQ) to further develop plans for Lardeau Park based on the 2015 consultation process. Area D provided a grant opposed to taxation for this work, however, the the bids were rejected based on exceeding available budget. We have scaled back the scope to develop a park management plan and will be moving forward within budget.
The amenities of discussion to be at this site are:
Originally:
– A wharf
Post community consultation phase 1
– A wharf
– Bathroom
– Signage
– Road and parking maintenance/upgrades
Post Community Consultation phase 2
– No wharf
– Day use only
– Leave it as is
Consultation has resulted in low numbers of responses each time, a slow increase but certainly not sufficient to draw a clear community-based direction. Combine this with the process that these things must follow and we have been sitting on this park too long with little completed. My hope is to simply come back with the original Project Implementation Plan (PIP) to the pubic but this time, hear from more of you. This PIP is based on the second phase considerations as noted above. All residents of Area D and Kaslo are participants in this service.
Stay tuned for community consultations. Thank you for your patience.

3. Forestry:
a. Request for Ministry oversight of Cooper Creek Cedar’s slope stability and terrain assessments
RDCK Chair Karen Hamling, Director Ramona Faust, RDCK CAO Stuart Horn and I met with staff from the Ministry of Forests to discuss our recent letter requesting Ministry oversight of terrain stability assessments that would support cutting permit applications in both the Argenta/Johnsons Landing and Laird Creek areas.
The Cooper Creek Cedar operational plans will include terrain stability assessments and will be reviewed by third party professionals. We expect this information over the fall/winter of 2018/2019.
Forestry staff also indicated that many others in this province share our concerns in regard to the professional reliance model. We expect important policy changes to forestry legislation in the fall 2018.
b. Current logging in Argenta
Logging and log hauling in the Argenta area is being done by Jeff Mattes on the Woodlot. Residents have concerns regarding safety, specifically the road used for log hauling. The Argenta Road is barely wide enough for the average vehicle let alone a logging truck and is not much different than Forest Service Roads (FSR) but with an active residential area that is accustomed to having children playing on it. So, we have a tense situation.
I have spoken with both the Woodlot Licensee and the District Manager to look for solutions, but the logging and the trucks will continue. These activities are within regulations and will not change until forestry practices are revised or the tenure system is changed. Until then, co-existing with the trucks will be important.
The Woodlot Licensee has agreed to minimize loads traffic on Wednesdays during the active mail and soup kitchen day.
There has been a request for a pilot car and I believe the RCMP are looking into this.
Should you have concerns or wish to report an issue or need information, here are the contacts I would suggest:
• Roads: Ministry of Transportation, Katie Ward 250-354- 6529
• Forestry: Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development, Tara DeCroucy Tara.DeCourcy@gov.bc.ca
• For forestry policy and overall tenure concerns: Michelle Mungall is your provincial elected official.
One further note- please do respect each other. Those wanting to feel safe are expressing their needs and those driving the trucks are going home to families that live in this area as well.

c. Wildfire Mitigation in Argenta/Johsnons Landing
I am planning a public meeting to discuss all things wildfire. We will review the outcome of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, FireSmart community and residential program, Landscape level fuel planning and Regional District wide initiatives as outcome to the June Wildfire and Climate Change Conference in Nelson. I hope to host this meeting within the next month.

4. Wildfire mitigation
There is a lot going on in this service. The August board meeting will have a report as a follow up from the Wildfire and Climate Change Conference. I will share that report when it is ready.
Specific to Area D, there are five fuel prescriptions proposed for 2019. Howser, Glacier Creek, Woodbury and two around the Kaslo Airport/Backroad area.
All processes will have community engagement during the design phase and are jointly funded by Area D Community Development funds and the Province of BC Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative program.

5. Boat and Traffic Congestion at Schroeder Creek
Since the loss of the Kaslo Bay Marina, Schroder Creek has been experiencing consistent congestion due to boat traffic from the east side of the lake to several waterfront access only communities. I have requested, on behalf of the Schroeder Creek Home Owners Association, that signage directing boat access communities and tourist to other pubic access points on the west side of North Kootenay Lake; Lost Ledge and Lardeau have three between them. While a sign sounds simple enough, the process is not and I continue to advocate for the community.
In terms of establishing a marina that would be able to accommodate the water access only communities that were approved under subdivision by the Ministry of Transportation based on access at the Kaslo Marina, this will require a private enterprise and is currently being assessed by members of the affected communities.

6. Columbia River Treaty BBQ
As the RDCK appointed member to the Columbia Basin Rural Advisory Committee (CBRAC), I was honored to attend a BBQ with both the Canadian and the US Columbia River Treaty negotiating organizations. This is the first time groups including First Nations, elected officials, scientist and other stakeholders met to tour the Canadian portion of the Columbia Basin. Members gathered on Minister Conroy’s property in Pass Creek where we enjoyed sharing our stories, concerns and ideas plus great food! The highlight for me was engaging with Alan Thompson who has done several studies on alternative operating options for Duncan Dam including decommissioning it. I shared this report online, should you wish a copy, please let me know.

7. Community Mail Boxes (CMB) in Ainsworth
There has been great effort by several residents and the JB Fletchers Society to find a new location for the CMB’s to be returned to Ainsworth. I have met with Canada Post staff at several crown sites to ascertain their viability for CMB’s to be located and all were declined by Canada Post. At this time, only land available would be held by private enterprises willing to host them. If this is not successful, Canada Post will be leaving the CMB’s where they are.

8. Local elections
As of September 14th, 2018, we are entering Local Government elections with voting day on October 20th. I would be delighted to continue as your Director for Area D and therefor, will be running again. I have many projects on the go (as you can see from this report) and would like to see them through to completion. I enjoy representing and advocating for the 24 unincorporated communities of Area D, taking on the challenges and working both inside and outside of the box that is local government. This work requires creative thinking, relationship building and persistence to see projects through. I will be seeking your support to continue this work.

Please contact me directly if you have any questions or comments on this report.

From Director Watson- info re: Duncan Dam

 

Those who attended the Columbia River Treaty meeting and are interested in the topics of Duncan Dam        

(and even those who didnt attend but may be interested:)

a) if it was decommisioned
or
b) if it had power generation
Can find information in the following document which contains a high level assessment.
https://engage.gov.bc.ca/…/High-Level-Description-and-Evalu…

more from Director Watson:

The RDCK is preparing for the legalization of cannabis, see proposed amendments to Official Community Plans and zoning, fill out the survey and be sure to provide your feedback!
There will be sub-regional community meetings and one public hearing for the Central Kootenay District, which I get to Chair. Stay tuned for dates.

Details here:
http://www.rdck.ca/…/community-pl…/cannabis-regulations.html