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Clarifying RDKB’s decision on funding

We are writing this letter in response to the October 13th newspaper article: Council upset at RDKB for refusal to help fund expansion study

We are writing this letter in response to the October 13th newspaper article in which the Trail Council was reported as being disappointed with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s decision not to provide $5000 towards a study of the proposed City of Trail’s expansion to include the Waneta Industrial Park and the Waneta Dam (Council upset at RDKB for refusal to help fund expansion study, Trail Times, Oct. 13)

Let us state at the outset that we are not writing to criticize the Trail Council’s comments as reported.  We do not believe that we are well served in our area by debates which are conducted through the media or through written exchanges.

We much prefer discussions where we seek to understand others’ points of view and then attempt to resolve problems. That being said, however, we wish to provide some additional rationale for the Regional Districts’ decision for the benefit of Daily Times readers.

One of the RDKB’s primary goals this past year has been: “Governance Restructuring (determining the most efficient way to deliver services including considering amalgamation, restructuring of some RDKB areas while at the same time considering the rural areas and determining how to allocate resources).”

As a result of some unexpected tax funding from the Seven Mile Dam this year, a sum of $35,000 was set aside to assist with studies which supported this goal.

Three such studies have been funded:  the Beaver Valley Amalgamation, the Trail-Warfield Amalgamation and the Christina Lake Incorporation Studies. Approximately $5000 is left in the fund at this time.

The Beaver Valley (Area A, Fruitvale and Montrose) commissioned a consultant to examine the taxation implications of an amalgamated district municipality. In September a preliminary report was received by the three jurisdictions, but there was clearly a need for more analysis and the consultant was asked to conduct more research.  Since there might be more costs than anticipated, the Beaver Valley study is given priority should there be a need.

At the RDKB meeting on Sept. 22, the Trail RDKB representative was told that consideration for funding the Trail Expansion Study would be given after the Beaver Valley study had been concluded.

It is expected that this revised report will be ready by the end of this month.

That being said, however, we would like to provide two examples of why one might question whether the Trail Expansion Study even fits with the aforementioned overall goal set out by the RDKB.

First example:  If the province of Quebec were to desire to secede from Canada in order to join the United States because they perceived that tax breaks there would be more beneficial, should the federal government spend tax dollars to assist Quebec and the USA to study such a proposal?

A second hypothetical example could be closer to home.  If Teck were to approach Warfield to request that Warfield expand its boundaries to include Teck if Warfield could provide a lower corporate tax rate (entirely probable when one considers Warfield’s population), would the City of Trail vote in favour of providing Trail tax dollars to fund a study for this expansion of Warfield’s boundaries?

Herein lies the essential difference between funding studies to increase governmental efficiencies and ones which seek to change boundaries for the sake of tax breaks for the petitioning corporate or residential citizens.

Trail’s proposed expansion comes at the very real probability of a considerable reduction in the tax base of the Beaver Valley – taxes that enable shared services like recreation (e.g., parks, recreation programs, trails, arena) that would be hard pressed to continue without the tax funding from Area A.

To sum up then, one of the main reasons the Beaver Valley study has been given priority by the RDKB is that it fits more closely to the overall goal of increasing governmental efficiency, but not at a cost to resources in rural areas such as the Beaver Valley.

We hope this letter adds more considered levels of understanding to this complex issue.

Larry Gray

RDKB Director (Fruitvale) and Regional District Vice Chair

Ali Grieve

RDKB Director (Area A)

Griff Welsh

RDKB Director (Montrose)