The Regional District of East Kootenay has received clarification from the provincial government on the board’s responsibility now that the Jumbo Glacier Resort is set to become a municipality.
Rob Gay, board chair, said he spoke with a representative from the province on Wednesday who confirmed that newly appointed Mayor Greg Deck will in fact have a seat on the RDEK despite a 2009 request from the RDEK that an appointed member not receive a seat. But Deck will not receive a vote on the board until 2017 or until the municipality’s infrastructure and improvements are assessed at $30,000,000.
The RDEK had previously sent a letter dated September 9, 2009, to the ministry asking that the Jumbo Glacier Resort be declared a mountain resort municipality, but that an appointed member not be granted a seat at the RDEK table. The letter asked that a seat be granted once there was a steady population capable of carrying out a democratic election of Mayor and council.
Gay said the province has responded with the new Mountain Resort Municipality by giving Deck a seat but not a vote immediately.
“I think government worked to reach a compromise,” Gay said.
While the board is relieved they will not technically be adding a 16th vote to the RDEK for now, Gay said a lot can happen between the time when Deck assumes the seat in March, 2013, to when he can vote in 2017.
“I think the hardest part from my perspective is not being able to vote for a long time,” he said.
Gay expects the first year of Jumbo’s incorporation to be a planning year and little could happen physically to the 6,131-hectare municipality. But if progress is fast, the lack of a vote could become an issue before 2017.
“They may be ready to go a lot sooner than that,” he said.
Gay said the board had two key points in their Wednesday discussions with the province. They are that the appointed government has no accountability to tax payers and taxation. Without a tax base, however, Gay said it’s fair that Deck does not have a vote because they will not be receiving the services provided by the regional district.
“They aren’t bringing any money to it,” he said. “It’s hard to have a say in that service when you don’t pay.”
Gay predicts the RDEK will be hearing from new interim corporate officer Phil Taylor very soon as the incorporation of the new Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality is set for February 19, 2013, and a lot of work has to be done before then.
“Phil’s going to want to know what services we offer,” Gay said. “He’ll be working with our staff. They have a lot to do between now and February.”
The RDEK provides the communities within its boundaries with a number of services from weed control to solid waste removal. Gay said one of the first things that will need to be tackled is solid waste. The new municipality’s government will have to decide if they would like to construct a transfer station and pay the RDEK for use of the regional landfill.
The RDEK can also do building inspection for municipalities that opt not to hire their own. Gay said there are building inspectors out of Invermere that could be used for a fee per service that may be helpful to Jumbo. The regional district can also provide a house numbering system if the municipality does not have their own method.
Gay said Deck comes with a wealth of knowledge of the services provided by the RDEK having been a member of the board for many years during his time as Mayor of Radium.
“He has a very good knowledge of that and what services we can provide,” Gay said.
The RDEK is expected to formally receive the Letters Patent for the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality at its next meeting on December 7, but Gay said they most likely won’t start to see Jumbo-related business at public meetings until at least March.
There’s still a lot of work to do behind the scenes and during public board meetings, and Gay said the board will step up to the challenge despite members being on opposite sides of the Jumbo issue.
“It may be a difficult transition,” he said. “I think we’re all community leaders around that table.”
Gay said he has not been contacted by any of the three appointed council members but welcomes them to attend the public meetings of the RDEK.
“Our meetings are open so they would be welcomed.”