Beaver Valley – Amalgamation issue still alive

An upcoming conference with the province is expected to give some closure to the issue that has been debated in the region for many years.

The report of my death was an exaggeration.

Mark Twain said it, so does Beaver Valley amalgamation.

The issue of amalgamation of Fruitvale, Montrose and parts of Area A is still on the front burner, but the heat of debate has been turned down to low.

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary chief administrative officer John MacLean said although the topic has not been officially killed yet, it is close.

An upcoming conference call with the province is expected to begin to give some closure to the issue that has been debated in the region for many years.

“The ministry is still trying to work with us, but we are just trying to make sure … we have looked at (amalgamation) from every different angle to see if it can work in any way,” he said Tuesday.

In early March the Beaver Valley amalgamation committee held an information session on the findings of Allan Neilson-Welch Consulting’s High Level Analysis of Amalgamation report for the region.

For the 50 people that showed up to the session in Fruitvale March 1, the report revealed that Fruitvale and Montrose taxes would remain about the same or be slightly lowered if amalgamation occurred.

However, all classes of taxpayers in Area A of the RDKB would face significant property tax increases—around $300—if the Beaver Valley communities were to amalgamate.

Unfortunately the tax increases in Area A would not be accompanied with significant service improvements, even though a new amalgamated local government would likely be more efficient.

Area A director Ali Grieve said the committee took the report’s findings to the province to show them this was not the outcome they had hoped for, and if there was some way to make Area A’s impact neutral.

“There isn’t even a significant tax savings for anyone,” she said. “And the way the facts are presented right now, I don’t see anything I can sell to Area A.”

If it were to pass, the boundary of the Beaver Valley District Municipality would include 100 per cent of the two villages’ population, and 80 per cent of Area A.

The new municipality would take responsibility for all existing municipal services, three existing Beaver Valley services (parks and trails, recreation, arena), local planning, local roads within Area A, as well as animal control, building inspection and the water systems.

The areas would collectively have to pay an additional $440,800 in local road costs for Area A and lose $50,000 in federal gas tax revenue sharing.