The Regional District of East Kootenay has rescinded support for a proposed boundary extension by the City of Cranbrook that seeks to bring 18 hectares into the municipal fold.
The City of Cranbrook brought the issue forward during a council meeting in the fall, however, final decisions regarding municipal boundary extensions are made by the province.
RDEK staff and directors were earlier consulted as part of the referral process. While a proposal to postpone a decision was recommended by staff during a meeting last month, Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt suggested a motion for the board to support the extension, which was successfully passed.
However, the crux of the issue is the tax implications, as property owners could potentially see their taxes climb significantly higher, according to a City of Cranbrook report.
Rob Gay, the RDEK board chair and Area C director, said residents within the proposed boundary extension were concerned about their tax bill, noting their inclusion also wouldn’t come with some services, which was discovered during a meeting with city officials in December.
“What these folks learned at the meeting, at that point, is that they were not getting services, so they were going to get a big bill for no services and there was no moratorium on taxes,” Gay said.
Gay added he had heard from 15 of the 18 property owners who were opposed to the boundary expansion.
“With the majority of people saying ‘we don’t want this’ I asked the board to rescind our support, which we provided last month, because when we did our Official Community Plan, we recognized that the city has to grow, there’s no question that the city has to grow, and that would make sense if the residents want to grow, but in this case, they do not want to expand.”
Cranbrook city councillor Ron Popoff, filling in for Mayor Pratt, who is currently out of the country, said the extension proposal is currently on hold, noting it was premature to bring the matter to the regional district.
“The City of Cranbrook truly believes it’s a good option going forward in the near future, so when we’re in a better position to clarify, with the regional district, what the benefits are about locating within the city boundaries, we will then bring that back to public open meetings and have all the formal engagements with the area residents.”