Those trying to make political points with the new budget for the Jumbo Resort Municipality are simply making something out of nothing, says the municipality’s mayor, Greg Deck.
Jumbo has hit the news again in recent days as a Ktunaxa Nation challenge to the development was rejected by the B.C. Supreme Court and news came out of a budget which includes $200,000 in government grants per year for five years.
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald brought the budget up in the Legislature last week.
“There is no other place in British Columbia where you have a mayor and a council looking after a community of zero people. The mayor doesn’t even live there, right? The mayor has walked through there, perhaps. But he doesn’t live there, and they don’t hold their meetings there because there’s no building.”
“We come to government transfers, and in each of the years, it’s $200,000 transferred from this ministry to this ridiculous creation that has no investor, no prospects of moving forward. Yet the government is going to invest $1 million over the next five years.” – Hansard transcripts from March 25, 2014.
However, Deck says the budget document is simply a pro forma document prepared by the treasurer to meet the requirement that all municipalities must have a five-year financial plan prepared.
“Jumbo contracts with the Village of Radium for administrative services,“ Deck said. “It uses a little bit of administrative time, a bit of the treasurer’s time.
“The treasurer is a good treasurer and one of the obligations under the Act is to file a five-year financial plan. In it you include what you know of revenues. Every community in the province receives a basic operating grant and that was put in as known revenue. We have no assessable property. With a ski hill much of the land remains provincial and lodges and other buildings are assessable. We don’t have buildings, the developer hasn’t been able to meet that threshold for various reasons.”
Deck says the basic operating grant far exceeds what is being spent at present and the resort municipality is not allowed to run a surplus.
“We have to show a balanced budget. The budget document thing is a pro forma thing. Council didn’t even discuss it. The treasurer was just doing her job. Now it’s being picked up by some folks but there is nothing to it.”
Macdonald doesn’t agree.
“Real communities get this grant, not fake ones,” he said. “There are a whole host of things communities like Kimberley need and they are being told there is no money. When you see money being wasted, it’s particularly galling. This council is holding five to ten minute meetings once a month. There’s not even an investor — none of it makes sense at the most basic level.
“People are being asked to pay more and more for Hydro, for medical service premiums and then you watch the government just waste money in this way, to a project that people in this area have never supported.”
As for the Jumbo Resort municipality not spending the $200,000, Macdonald says they have already spent $250,000.
“And what value did we receive for that? We ask and we are told, ‘don’t worry, common sense will prevail’. Well, it hasn’t so far.”