After being lauded for his service at a recent Cranbrook City Council meeting, Bob Whetham received the same treatment at his final RDEK board meeting last Friday before the municipal election.
Whetham currently sits on council and serves as an RDEK director, but he is not running for re-election.
The board singled out Whetham and other fellow directors who are also retiring during the last RDEK board meeting before the elections on Saturday. In addition to Whetham, Dee Conklin (Village of Radium Hot Springs) and Heath Slee (Area B) also attended their final regional board meetings, as all three were honoured by their colleagues.
It’s been an journey for Whetham, who has appeared before the board as a consultant on behalf of clients, and more recently as a director. Whetham has also been employed on staff with the RDEK, where he worked in land-use planning.
His experience as a consultant presenting to the board, and then working for the RDEK gave him a good grasp of what to expect when he was tapped to serve as a director after being elected as a Cranbrook city councillor in 2011.
“You have to realize in the government, you’re serving the public at large, so if you understand from the perspective of an applicant—they have a particular thing they’d like to accomplish—you’d like to work to reach some kind of solution to whatever it is,” said Whetham.
“So having been on both sides of that equation, I think it’s helped a lot. And being on staff, of course, you’re fulfilling much of the same role too.
“You have to understand both the position that government has from a regulatory body, which sometimes isn’t very popular, but then also from the point of view of the applicant, and you have to lead the applicant towards a conclusion that’s an acceptable one.”
There have been many issues Whetham has worked on while on staff and as a member of the board of directors, but it was a project up in the Columbia Valley that sticks out in his career.
He was working on an Official Community Plan (OCP) that involved a few hundred properties on the Foreshore area east of Lake Windermere in the late 1990s.
“We had a lot of encroachments, illegal boathouses, retaining walls, one thing or another. Some of these were removed, some were legalized where it was possible, and at the end of this whole process, which involved several hundred properties, I think I wound up with three letters,” Whetham said.
“….It was just one of those interdisciplinary things that you get in planning, but that’s what makes it so interesting. You really never know what’s going to come up or turn up on Monday morning.”
Also honoured during Friday’s board meeting was John Kettle, the chair of the Regional District of Central Kootenay and the chair of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District, who is retiring after serving four terms.