Minister to meet with stakeholders in boundary expansion proposal

Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes to visit West Kootenay this week

The provincial official responsible for overseeing changes to municipal boundaries will be visiting the West Kootenay area on Wednesday.

As the July 7 deadline for Trail voters to counter-petition the city’s move to expand Trail boundaries through the Alternative Approval Process (AAP), the word last week was Minister Coralee Oakes is planning a visit to the region June 25.

The itinerary for Oakes, Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development, includes separate meetings with the City of Trail and representatives from the Beaver Valley communities before she travels to Castlegar for an appointment, confirmed her media   spokesperson.

The minister will join Area A director Ali Grieve, along with the mayors of Montrose and Fruitvale for a tour of the proposed boundary expansion area and the Beaver Valley.

“The group also seeks clarity on the provincially mandated expansion process,” Grieve added.

The city is planning to host a luncheon for the minister, noted David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer (CAO).

“She will be with city representatives…to discuss various topics in follow-up to our meeting with her in Victoria last month.”

Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs, Coun. Kevin Jolly and the city’s CAO met with Oakes and her staff in Victoria in May.

During the meeting, the minister indicated her desire to see the matter of boundary extension concluded this summer ahead of the municipal election in November, said Perehudoff.

The minister’s team requested the city to contact owners in the impacted area for a final confirmation of whether or not they support a boundary extension.

At the end of May, the city sent out 23 letters, representing 54 taxable properties in the proposed boundary extension area, confirmed Perehudoff.

“The letter asked owners to indicate whether or not they supported the city proceeding with the boundary extension and seeking final approval from the province to proceed,” he explained.

The letter indicated if the property owner did not respond then they would be considered in favour of the boundary extension, he added.

Trail voters have two more weeks under the AAP to oppose the city’s intent to grow its limits to envelop properties in the Columbia Gardens area.

To date, the city is not aware of anyone petitioning, said Michelle McIsaac, Trail’s corporate administrator.

Unless properties being added to a municipal boundary are being removed from lands that are located in an adjoining municipality, the area is located within an electoral area of the regional district. Although not prescribed in legislation, the regional district has an important role in the boundary extension process, according to the Local Government website.

The regional district is the local government for areas outside municipal boundaries and may provide services in the area, so consequently, its interests must be considered and municipalities should make their best efforts to accommodate those interests.

However, the regional district does not have a veto on municipal boundary extensions.

“The province will also make more direct comment with respect to the city’s mitigation proposal to the RDKB,” Perehudoff explained. “But indications are that the city’s offer is generous because it provides for the Beaver Valley Parks and Recreation budget to receive further moneys if the budget increases.”

Should the boundary expansion proceed, with the increasing amount of tax dollars coming from Area A’s industrial part, Grieve maintains, “we will ask for the minister’s commitment to find a win-win solution for all stakeholders. No taxpayer should have to lose.”