The Regional District of East Kootenay passed a motion at Friday’s regular meeting to reaffirm the board’s opposition to having an unelected member sit on their board come March.
Board chair Rob Gay said the board had initially requested in August 2009 that the appointed mayor of a potential Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality not become a member of the board.
When the Letters Patent creating the new municipality was released by the B.C. government on November 20, it stated that a member of the appointed council would in fact have a seat on the RDEK board, but would do so without any voting power until the municipality was assessed at $30 million or until 2017.
Gay admits it was a compromise the board was happy to see, but they still have concerns. Much discussion was had at the meeting of the RDEK’s Governance and Regional Services committee held on December 6 ahead of the December 7 regular board meeting, and all board members were vehemently against the appointed member.
“The directors — and it was a unanimous vote — were against that,” Gay said. “It was quite spirited discussion.”
Gay said the board was clear in 2009 when they asked that an appointed member not find their way onto the elected board of directors. This fall the Union of B.C. Municipalities also passed a motion rejecting appointed members on elected boards in response to the Jumbo situation.
Discussion spilled over briefly into Friday’s meeting, with Area F director Wendy Booth pointing out that unelected members do occasionally attend RDEK meetings as alternates for the elected members.
Bob Whetham, director from the City of Cranbrook, expressed his concerns about the lack of guidelines for what a stable population would be for the municipality to begin holding elections.
“This is a serious issue for us,” he said.
Whetham said the appointed member raises a lot of questions and sends the RDEK board directors into uncharted territory.
“I think that’s about unheard of,” he said. “If we’re going to go down this road of a non-elected member sitting on an elected board, I think we need to question how we’re going to function as a government.”
Area G director Gerry Wilkie said he looked into the Letters Patent for Elkford, which is often cited as an example of a town created in a similar way to Jumbo, but found it had a population before the Letters Patent was issued.
“There were people living there,” he said.
Gay told the Townsman what may be best for the new mayor and council of Jumbo is to wait until around 200 people live there. He points to the community of Silverton — the smallest town in B.C. with 195 residents — as an example. That tiny municipality does have a seat on the Regional District of Central Kootenay.
At Friday’s meeting director Ute Juras from Canal Flats suggested the board copy the letter reaffirming the board’s opposition to the UBCM so they are aware of the situation.
Gay said that so far the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality’s new interim corporate officer Phil Taylor has been in contact with the RDEK’s chief administrative officer Lee-Anne Crane to discuss what services can be provided by the RDEK. Gay stresses that any services they provide will be paid for out of pocket by the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality.
“This will not cost the taxpayer of the Regional District of East Kootenay,” he said.
Under the Letters Patent, those expenses will be paid for by the proponent of the resort until a tax-paying population exists.
But further questions exist for Gay and the rest of the board. In the RDEK, taxpayers fund transfer stations in the region and do not pay a gate fee when they bring their garbage in. Gay said the board needs to ponder what happens when construction starts in the Jumbo Valley. He wonders if the RDEK will have to impose a gate fee on Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality developers so that the costs for using the Columbia Valley Transfer Station are covered until there is a tax-paying base there.
“We’re going to deal with them very much in a business manner.”