Aquilini, fire trucks and cemeteries the hot topics for RDKB meeting

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
February 11th, 2010

John MacLean, chief administrative officer for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), made it clear from the word go that the meeting in Christina Lake last Monday, Feb. 8 was not about the Aquilini proposal for a waste-to-energy plant. What it was about included the five-year financial plan for the area, and discussions about current and future services provided by the RDKB for the entire region, and Christina Lake in particular. Overall, residents will see a slight increase in their taxation this year, said MacLean, but that is partly due to the increase in assessments for homes on the lake.

The annual town hall meeting had about 35 residents present to hear about the services along with RDKB staff and regional area C director Grace McGregor. New for the region in 2010 will be green initiatives including the exploration of ways to minimize methane from landfills, and a fuel reduction project for wildfire prevention. In area C, Christina Lake, in particular some of the priority areas are: developing the Cascade Cemetery, improvements to the milfoil reduction program, the development of the Christina Lake Living Arts Centre, seniors housing and seniors centre projects and the development of a regional water committee to complete a river study.

“This is not an Aquilini meeting, this is a budget meeting,” said MacLean. “The board of directors has not considered their application. They cannot, I repeat cannot consider the application until after the APC (advisory planning committee). They are duty bound to accept those applications. There is no way to arbitrarily deny an application just because we don’t like it.”

MacLean reiterated that the deadline for the proponents is March 11 and that the board will deal with the matter then.

Fire Chief Ken Gresley-Jones was on hand to explain major costs that are anticipated for the fire department at the Lake. The current primary pumper fire truck, the one Gresley-Jones said that the insurers base their calculations for fire protection on, has to be replaced due to age. In addition, their other two trucks for rescue services are over 31-years-old. As a result, area C residents will be asked to vote on financing options for new vehicles. Gresley-Jones hopes that they will be able to get a used main engine truck and also be able to replace the rescue vehicles with used equipment for the same price as buying a new pumper truck. In the last year the two rescue trucks have cost $20,000 in repairs.

“The truck’s good for 20 years as far as the underwriters are concerned, so if we buy one that’s five years old the truck’s good for 15. If we replaced it with the used vehicle, we could also replace the rescue vehicle with something used and we don’t have to worry about meeting specifications on that one because the underwriters don’t care,” said Gresley-Jones. I wanted to let everybody know about this. We’re just in the stage where we’re talking with the director and CAO about what to do because this is something that is going to affect all of us.”

Gresley-Jones estimates that a new truck would cost between $300 – 325,000 while a used one could be about $200,000 and a rescue truck would be about $25,000.

The annual diving milfoil removal program for Christina Lake is one of the regional programs that MacLean reviewed. He advised residents that there will be a slight increase to the program’s this year of around $8,000 overall, amounting to approximately $1.00 increase per $100,000 of assessed home value to each residence. Both McGregor and MacLean agreed that the program is beneficial but the ability to do more is critical. They assured everyone that the program requests support from the provincial government each year, and each year they are refused. MacLean said that they are looking at options for other revenue in order to increase the service without impacting the local community.

“We have been talking about the possibility of an environmental fee for people who come to the lake not for locals, but people who recreate on the lake. We have no idea how that would work; we haven’t even begun to flush that out. But at some point we may look at some kind of fee for people who bring boats on to the lake and add to our milfoil problem. I’m looking at every way and everything we can possibly do to improve the milfoil problem,” said McGregor.

The wildfire protection project is being funded through the federal government’s Job Opportunities Program hiring unemployed forestry workers. The project is a joint initiative between the RDKB, the Regional District Central Kootenay and the East Kootenay Regional District. They were awarded $5 million to complete the removal of fuel that encourages the quick spread of wildfires around the area. Crown land parcels have been indentified by the consultants who prepared a report for the districts, and the work will take place over the next year.

Along with a long list of Director McGregor’s government, committee and local area project involvement, McGregor was pleased to present the completed report on the Cascade Cemetery. This heritage site saw a number of improvements by local volunteers over the last few years including identification of a number of the people interred there. The study, completed by Dennis Radford Consulting, is available from McGregor or the RDKB.

“This is very well done,” said McGregor. “It gives some history of Cascade, it tells you about the cemetery. It is Crown land and there is more of that land up there. Should you decide that that’s where you might want to go, I think if we go forward with a cemetery service I would like to see it be an eco-cemetery where you don’t use fancy caskets. You use things that break down or you use ashes or shrouds and plant trees. That’s where I’d like to see it go.”

This year, the parks and recreation group may improve the road to the cemetary as part of their workplan. Residents thanked McGregor for her work over the term and there were few questions about the presentation


Categories: Politics