Councils hold joint meeting in Kimberley

Rails to Trails, economic development, wildlife management discussed at Tuesday, March 12 event.

  • Mar. 15, 2013 8:00 p.m.

Carolyn Grant and Sally MacDonald

City Councils from both Kimberley and Cranbrook met at the Kimberley Conference and Athlete Training Centre last Tuesday evening to discuss matters of common interest.

This is the first time the two councils have met together in several years. Kimberley Mayor Ron McRae and Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski said it was a productive meeting; an opportunity to discuss matters of common interest.

“Because our communities are so closely linked in many different ways, we plan to meet twice a year. We put together an agenda around some of the common opportunities and common linkages,” said Stetski.

The agenda included discussion around economic development, tourism, green energy opportunities and more.

“I think it went well,” McRae said.

“We were able to talk openly about matters both Councils feel are important.

“There were no resolutions because it was the first meeting in quite some time. It was more in the context of things our staffs could explore more fully.”

McRae says one area where a lot of conversation took place was the Rails to Trails.

“It’s such an important asset and we have to make sure the appropriate infrastructure to manage it is in place.”

Other issues touched upon were opportunities to host the BC Seniors Games in 2015-16, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Directors Meeting in 2015.

Wildlife management was a valuable topic to discuss, according to Stetski.

“There are things like urban wildlife management which are common challenges for all of our communities here in the East Kootenay and certainly challenging for both Kimberley and Cranbrook. So we talked about those kinds of things as well,” said Stetski.

Staff from both cities will also look into joint purchase agreements and local carbon offset projects.

Kimberley Council decided this year not to purchase offsets to achieve carbon neutrality because the nearest offset purchases were in the West Kootenay. Instead Council banked the money until an East Kootenay project that was of some benefit to Kimberley was found or created.

Developing a more collaborative approach to economic development was also discussed, including bio-energy initiatives and joint marketing strategies such as investment attraction (ie: Lower Columbia Initiatives, Invest Kootenay) and tourism marketing.

“We identified a number of initiatives we are going to collaborate on going forward, things like marketing, investment opportunities, we are both very interested in alternative energy sources as a way of the future. We talked a bit about bio energy and a bit about solar energy,” said Stetski.

Going forward, the two councils hope to put their heads together on a more frequent basis.

“We agreed that the two councils should meet more often, probably on a biannual basis,” McRae said. “The next meeting will likely be next fall – after the UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) meeting might be a good time.”

In the meantime, Stetski and McRae are both invited to attend the B.C. Mayor’s Caucus in Prince George on April 29 and 30.

Mayors from every B.C. municipality will be able to come together and discuss common issues and draft resolutions around possible solutions.

“I represent the East and West Kootenay mayors on that steering committee and we have been planning for quite a while,” said Stetski, who is one of the organizers of the caucus.