Milfoil top topic at Area C town hall meeting

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
March 4th, 2012

Milfoil removal, riparian efforts, library funding, a seniors housing project, the Phoenix Ski Hill contributions and the woodstove exchange program were all discussed constructively at the Regional District Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Area C Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, February 29.

The annual budget information session was held to discuss how the district operates, the 2012 budget and the 2012-2016 Five-Year Financial Plan.

More than 25 people gathered at the Christina Lake Community Hall to hear what RDKB Area C director Grace McGregor had to say.

After a detailed discussion on the role of the RDKB and what it does for the region by John Maclean, RDKB chief administrative officer, and a brief introduction into a new seniors housing complex by the Seniors Housing Society and a promotion of the woodstove exchange program, McGregor took the stage.

The top topic was Eurasian Milfoil which is choking out the natural vegetatian in Christina Lake. To counter this ongoing problem, RDKB will be doubling their efforts in removing the invasive weed this summer. Doubling the dive removal efforts will mean doubling the taxes on milfoil removal for tax payers. The total project has been expanded to cost $150,000 — double of what it was last year.

“We need to get on with it, we need to double our divers, which is what we’re going to do for the short term and we need to make plans for the long term,” said McGregor. “The plans for the long term include the milfoil weevil. They’ve had success with the weevil in other areas.”

“Yes we have to raise (taxes) for a couple of years and am I hoping I can lower that after a couple of years ?– Yes I am,” said McGregor. “If we can become a weevil supplier we feel we can supply other lakes. There are a lot of lakes who would need that.”

She also hopes to create a weevil rearing business out of the project, which will then pay for the removal of milfoil in Christina Lake.

To try and mitigate the cost of the stepped up milfoil removal, McGregor has also pulled Area C out of the Boundary Economic Development Commission (BEDC) service as of 2013 at a savings f $33,000.

She also said she doesn’t support giving Area C money to the floundering Phoenix Ski Hill until other areas are willing to help Christina Lake with milfoil expenses. And the Grand Forks and Distict Library’s recent request for a $60,000 funding increase is not supported by Area C because the region just has too many other expenses to take care of.

“I understand that everyone of us will hurt from this — everyone of us who owns our home … in the end we’ll end up with a better situation than we have.”

Although residents are facing an increase on their taxes this year, they all appeared to be understanding of the circumstances facing the lake.

The issue is really about balance for Christina Lake resident Ron Liddle.

“It really costs a small amount of money to live here,” said Liddle during the comment portion of the meeting.

Creative suggestions on how to deal with the milfoil included creating a compost for gardeners. McGregor said that sounded like a great idea, but milfoil is very invasive and would need to be sterilized.

“We all know how milfoil got into the lake so we have to be really careful with what we do with it,” said McGregor, who has experimented with the weed in her own pond to see how resiliant it is — she found that even in adverse situations, milfoil will grow.

The budget as presented is still in draft form and is set for final approval in March. This is the sixth year the RDKB has hosted Town Hall meetings.

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