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SUMMING IT UP: Grand Forks City Council

Don Colclough, Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society president, asks for stable funding from the Grand Forks City Council, Monday, Feb. 6. Photo Erin Perkins.

Grand Forks City Council held a brief council meeting on Monday, Feb.6 in the City Hall Council Chambers. They discussed a variety of issues, including the need for more members in the deer committee. They also faced a contingent of more than 40 people supporting the Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society.

Looking for deer committee members

Before they can proceed with plans for reducing the ever-growing deer population within Grand Forks city limits, the deer committee needs more members.

Right now the committee is down to five members but they need eight to make any decisions, said Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor.

The committee has been operating for the past two years but it's membership has dwindled down and now needs some fresh blood.

Like many B.C. towns, deer are an ongoing issue in Grand Forks city limits. The deer are responsible for "extensive damage" to local fauna, not to mention the vehicular damage, which happens to be the only thing helping control the population at about 200 a year, said Taylor.

The official count lists about 200 deer within Grand Forks city limits, but Taylor believes that number is more like 300.

"There are a lot of complaints from people about deer," said Taylor after the council meeting. "People feel as though they are living in a cage because the deer are controlling their yards and throughfares."

He said the subject of deer can be "very intense" with people either wanting to kill them or save them. He hopes to have a committee made up of an even cross section of "deer stakeholders".

One of the biggest deer issues is when people feed them. Although there is a bylaw against feeding deer within city limits, it's still being done.

"There may be a no feeding bylaw, but people are still feeding them and no one will report their neighbours," said Taylor.

The fine can be up to $1,000 if you're caught, but to enforce that law could cost the city thousands of dollars, said Taylor.

To reduce the deer population, a long term management plan is necessary. Although Grand Forks is one of the first cities in the province to establish a deer committee, they have now been surpassed by other communities. Many others have already established a deer management plan, and proceeded with harvesting the local herds.

The time committment involved is one meeting a month for about 90 minutes and reading information packages. Anyone wishing to get involved with the Deer Committee can contact Taylor at 250-442-8266.

Phoenix Ski Hill asking for long term funding

The Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society asked the Grand Forks City Council to consider a long-term financial committment to keep the hill going.

A contingent of more than 40 ski hill supporters filled the city council chambers on Monday, Feb. 6 to show their support for the popular family ski hill.

"The pressure is on us to sit down and talk issues of funding with our partners," said Don Colclough, Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society president, during his presentation to city council on Monday, Feb. 6.

"This money would allow us to continue to provide accessible skiing and snowboarding."

The society is facing an annual shortfall of $62,000.

Over the past five years the hill's primary source of income has been through the B.C. Gaming Commission. That funding is often unreliable, especially with the recent tightening of the Gaming Grant budget. Although, it was recently announced by the provincial government that the gaming grants will be expanded again, the society is still uncertain as to what that will mean for them.

According to a report the society prepared for the presentation, "It is impossible fo us to continue to operate with that level of insecurity for our funding".

The city has donated money to the society over the past eight years of between $8,000 and $10,000 a year, but the society would like to establish some more regular funds.

The society is also approaching the City of Greenwood, Midway and the Regional District Kootenay Boundary electoral areas C, D and E for a stable funding committment.

Council voted unanimously to refer the request to the budgeting process, where they will take the matter under consideration along side numerous other funding requests including one by the Boundary District Arts Council for $3,500 for the Kettle River Festival of the Arts and $4,500 continued support toward their annual operating budget.

"I can feel some desire to support the process," Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor told the group. "Predictable funding from other regional sources would be a comforting thing for the society ... I think we're feeling the support here."

"We are confident you will agree with us that this will ensure a viable future for the Boundary area," said Colclough in his closing remarks.

Phoneix operates between mid-December until the end of March, it employes eight full time employees and between 15 and 20 part-time employees. There are about 12,000 skier visits a year, which contribute an estimated $100,000 into the local economy annually.

Other news

Grand Forks city council is clear: if you have an issue with the two granite mining exploration applications for the Granby River area, please contact your MLA. Councillor Gary Smith said he's received a number of phone calls from residents who are concerned about the applications but the city has little to do with the decision.

"I encourage them to talk it over with their (regional district) director, (MP) Member of Parliament or MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) to see what they can do," said Smith during his councillor report on Monday, Feb. 6.

Heritage Week is February 20-26. This year's theme is Energy in British Columbia -- A Powerful Past, a Sustainable Future. According to a letter sent by Heritage B.C., "From the earliest coal-fired generators to the massive hydro-electric projects of the twentieth century and today's oil and gas industry, energy and power have been an essential and sometimes controversial part of the B.C.'s growth and prosperity". For more information about Heritage Week visit www.heritagebc.ca.