The dust is hardly settling in the furor over Warfield council’s decision to opt out of the Trail Resident Program (TRP) and the mayor of the community is calling for consideration of a regional municipality as a possible solution.
“I’m for it. We’ve all gone there,” Warfield Mayor Bert Crockett said Wednesday. “We’ve got to move this forward. There are 21,000 people in this valley and so many levels of government.”
Monday’s village council meeting saw a sizable crowd descend on Warfield council chambers with residents voicing objections to the further fragmenting of recreation and cultural opportunities in the area.
By opting out of the TRP Warfield residents join their neighbours in Rossland and Beaver Valley in having to pay cash for using Trail’s recreational facilities and library, leaving the city of Trail holding the tab for maintaining the various facilities and programs.
“We’re just extremely disappointed in this decision, Trail and Warfield have always seemed like practically one city to begin with,” said Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs. “It’s hard to think of any other two communities that are more closely aligned in our communities. From the joint citizen of the year, to our Ambassador program, all our history of recreation together and now they decide that the contract signed 50 years ago isn’t good enough.”
But Crockett maintains the problem is more of a regional issue.
“This recreation thing is just one of many issues in this area,” Crockett said. “You’ve got water, sewer, the hospital, everyone taking sides, if we could even eliminate one level of government it might make things more manageable.”
With an approaching civic election in the fall, Crockett feels this might be the opportunity to start taking a look at the possibility of a regional municipality.
“It’s clear cut, a district municipality would mean that you share with everyone in the valley, even if it cost a little more to set things up,” he said. “If we got away from the politics and got better governance in the valley, the cost would be worth it.”
Bogs said that Trail has always been in favour of amalgamation but has been met with resistance from the other communities in the area.
“We had a joint study with Warfield into amalgamation and then after the first phase we approved continuing on and they pulled out,” Bogs said. “We were talking about amalgamation with the Beaver Valley and everybody got scared.
“With the recreation, it’s just disappointing that people don’t think the kind of facilities we have are of value in attracting people in to work at Teck or the hospital.”
While Crockett may be calling for change, he refuses to point fingers at any of the local councils as being responsible for the state of political affairs in the area.
“There’s got to be an answer to this. If we don’t do something the politics won’t change,” he said. “It’s not that Warfield or Rossland or Beaver Valley is the problem, the system is broken.
“A change and sending in some new people might make a difference, at least have the discussion and start looking at the big picture here, like, folks, let’s get together and deal with it.”
However, if there is a change to governance in the area Crockett isn’t planning on being in office to shepherd it through.
“I won’t be running this year, I made that decision last term,” he said. “I’ve been trying to retire for 12 years.”
“It’s been a good experience and I’d encourage anyone to step in, it’s a steep learning curve but worth it.”