Debunking local government myths: RDKB

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
November 11th, 2010

Christina Lake residents grilled Chief Administrative Officer, John MacLean, about taxation, assessments, and services at an information session with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB). The session, organized by RDKB Area C Director Grace McGregor, also gave MacLean the opportunity to debunk some “regional district myths.”   The evening was an informal conversation between the staff of the RDKB and the 30 people who attended. After reviewing the financial planning process, MacLean identified three common areas of misunderstandings about the regional district and its authority: planning, tax rates, and assessments.   For Christina Lake, planning has been a sore spot since Aquilini Investment Group requested a zoning change to install a waste-to-energy plant. Many locals felt that the RDKB should have dismissed their request immediately. MacLean made it clear that the RDKB is required by law to allow all requests.   “The planning myth can also be renamed the ‘Aquilini myth,’” joked MacLean. “The legislation is very, very clear. Local government shall consider every application for amending the OCP or zoning that it receives. They have the right to go through the process in a fair way.”   MacLean said it is very important that everyone has the right to apply, but these major requests do not happen often.   The next myth that MacLean tackled was regarding tax rates and assessments.   “We do not set the tax rate,” explained MacLean. “We set the requisition (for annual funding to the province.) The province sets the tax rate – we do not have the authority to do that. We do not set your assessment. You actually pay taxes to the province of B.C. for the pleasure of them telling you what your property is worth. We have no say on what the value of your property is.”   Assessments are market driven, added MacLean, “In Christina Lake, because of what some people who sell lake frontage properties are getting for their properties, property values are exceedingly high.”   “In the meantime there are a lot of veterans here who own property on the lake,” said Joe Tatangelo, previous area director. “Sure their house is worth a million dollars, but they can’t afford the tax! And they don’t want to sell it to move.”   MacLean recognized the problem but advised the group the system is developed to tax the property not the person. But there are tax deferral programs to assist people in these situations. “Until the province comes across with a different way of allowing local government to be able to offer the things it needs, like the fire department, that’s the system we’ve got,” said MacLean.   Other discussions throughout the evening explored waste management, animal control, a proposal for a dog park, and RDKB service evaluation. MacLean outlined current regional projects such as the Kettle River watershed management plan, plans for landfill carbon neutrality (composting and organic diversion,) upgrades for recreation facilities, and the region’s carbon neutrality goals for 2012. 

Regional district chair Marguerite Rotvold, Area C Director Grace McGregor, Grand Forks City Councillor Cher Wyers, and Montrose representative Griff Walsh also participated in the meeting.  

Categories: GeneralPolitics