Councils demonstrate fiscal responsibility by pulling out of recreation agreements

" one enters politics with a goal to divide and separate communities."

I am encouraged to see the level of participation and interest among so many community members lately on issues that impact all of us, specifically our recreation opportunities.  This is true community engagement and it is good to see.  I write in response to an editorial about “Parochial attitudes hurting entire region,” from the March 20 paper.

First; no one enters politics with a goal to divide and separate communities.  In fact, the aim would be the opposite; to unite and grow as communities.  We all have friends and family in each of the Lower Columbia communities.  We work and play in each other’s back yards.  Despite municipal boundaries we share many things.

Second, when one submits their name for consideration on the ballots at election time, we do so because we feel that we have something positive to offer.  We want to make a difference now, and for our future generations. We want to make sure that our kids and their kids can enjoy a good life, HERE, in the Lower Columbia as we do.

For the most part, the majority of us get along quite well.  We spend countless hours together, establish great relationships, attend many meetings together, and share an understanding and respect for each other’s opinions at the regional table.  At this time, while our respective recreation programs are the focus of local attention, I am reminded of Einstein’s words, that “from discord, find harmony [and that] in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”  In seeking harmony and looking for opportunity, I am curious about some things.

I wonder why three separate councils, and an electoral area director have decided not to renew recreation agreements with the City of Trail?  As has been consistently reported, the same reason seems to underlie all four decisions to not renew recreation agreements. That reason is the lack of accountability and responsiveness on questions specific to recreation contributions, which have been put to the city on numerous occasions.

Also consistently reported are the questions from the three councils and area director that remain to be answered.  Specifically, in the spirit of transparency and accountability:   How are all the funds “held” by the City of Trail allocated and spent?  What do our individual (municipal) tax contributions for recreation return to our municipalities and residents, in other words; what is the actual usage of the TRP cards? Our taxpayers have a right to know.

Each of the elected representatives have clearly demonstrated fiscal responsibility in asking these questions, and ultimately, in deciding to withdraw their contributions.

Without an accounting of how municipal and resident taxes are spent, the three councils and director were left with the difficult choice:  continue submitting annual contributions, no-questions-asked and no accounting for spent dollars, or, to take a stand and insist on an account.

Two meetings between the Beaver Valley and the City of Trail permitted the BV representatives to explain their position, which was to continue with a resident reimbursement program, develop our own data base, and then find a fair and accountable contribution amount for a future council to consider.

I am also curious, and pose the question to Trail City Council, “Can you provide the information that we are all looking for?”

Ali Grieve is the director of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s Area A, which includes the rural areas bordered on the west by the Columbia River, on the south by the Canada / U.S. Border and on the north by  Champion Lakes.