RDEK year in review

RDEK year in review

Provided by Board Chair Rob Gray

By RDEK Board Chair Rob Gray

2018 was a remarkable year for the RDEK as several of our longer-term projects were completed. Following the approval of local taxpayers, two major milestones were achieved: we completed the largest construction project in our history in West Fernie, and undertook our largest purchase to date with the acquisition of the Parr Utilities water treatment plant and building in Windermere.

The RDEK starts each year with a work plan and a budget that supports the plan. Like most years, 2018 plans included a variety of projects and activities both small and large. Our Engineering Services Department had an especially busy and successful year. Similarly to 2017, our plans were impacted by local forest fires which resulted in thousands of residents in the East Kootenay being put on evacuation alert, and hundreds more being evacuated from their homes. Extremes in our weather appear to represent a new normal for us and the RDEK will be taking steps to help residents prepare for emergencies like forest fires and floods.

A number of highlights of interest from 2018 include:

1. Engineering Services – July saw the successful completion of Phase 2 of the West Fernie Servicing and Restructure Project. This project was completed on time and below budget. On October 1, we celebrated the purchase of the Parr Utilities water treatment plant which will eventually result in the RDEK being able to provide clean water to over 1300 residences in the Windermere / East Side Lake Windermere area. A key piece of this project in 2018 will be beginning the work to connect the Windermere Water System to the plant. We will also have the ability to expand service if we get demand from other local residents in the future. The Tie Lake Dam project and Baptise Lake Reservoir Dam upgrade were substantially completed this year. The Fairmont Creek Debris Flow Mitigation Project, delayed due to the forest closure last year, was also finished. With the help of some grant funding, an Elk River Floodplain Mapping project was completed.

2. Building and Protective Services – Area F in our Columbia Valley is experiencing a building boom with over $30.2 million in construction in 2018. Area A at $9 million and Area C at $9.8 million are also seeing reasonable growth. Overall the RDEK rural communities and municipalities reported over $145 million in 2018

construction. The RDEK submitted an application to the Province for funding to initiate forest fuel management prescription on 370 hectares within the RDEK.

3. Planning & Development Services – community plans tend to take the majority of staff time however our planning staff dealt with a variety of issues in 2018 including the feeding of a large flock of wild turkeys in the Edgewater area, BC Speculation Taxation concerns, placement of numerous communications towers to help enhance cellular phone and broadband services, Kootenay Boundary Farm Advisers contract extension, renewal of our Energy Manager Partnership with BC Hydro and Columbia Basin Trust, and new development permits in the Wasa Area to help protect environmentally sensitive lands.

4. Recreation Services – Two new regional parks were approved early in 2018 including Fairmont Path and Waldo Cove. The RDEK was also asked to sponsor a number of not-for-profit society grant requests to the Provincial Rural Development Fund. The RDEK agreed to assist with the planning and contribute some funding of the new Akisq’nuk First Nation Recreation facility.

5. Environmental Services – a very busy year with many meetings focused on updating our two-decade old solid waste management plan. The year was complicated by a fire in the main waste transfer station building in Kimberley. A new Household Hazardous Waste facility, designated for use of all RDEK residents, has just been opened at the Cranbrook Transfer Station. An official opening is planned early in the New Year. Our Board recently reviewed the results of a solid waste audit, which we undertook earlier this summer on garbage collected from around the East Kootenay. The findings of this report will help to inform our solid waste management advisory committee as they deliberate during the early months of 2019.

6. Grants – On behalf of the Columbia Basin Trust, the RDEK managed and administered $1,084,126 in grants through the Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs. In total, 156 projects were supported in 2018. Our Electoral Area Services also fund a Discretionary Grant-in-Aid program, which typically focuses on small-value grants to help support the needs of our valued not-for-profit groups.

The RDEK is also eligible – and makes a number of applications – for a variety of Provincial and Federal government grants to assist in providing services to our residents.

7. Other items of interest

• Election 2018 – Elections were held in October and our new Board was sworn-in prior to our November meetings. We welcome five new Directors to our Board of 15. We all serve a four-year term.

• Communications – Each year, our Electoral Area Directors host Town Hall meetings. Prior to the start of the Town Hall Meetings, we also hold a ceremony to celebrate our Electoral Area Volunteer of the Year. The nominations for the 2019 Electoral Area Volunteers of the Year will be open in January. The Town Hall Meetings include presentations by senior staff describing project and services of note and a detailed look at the Financial Plan breakdown to illustrate where your tax dollars are being spent and how services are managed. Time is available for residents to ask questions of their director and staff at the meeting. Although we hold the Town Hall Meetings annually, Directors and staff welcome meeting requests any time of the year.

• Forest Fire Smoke – let’s not forget August of this year. The month of ‘no sun’ for many of us, and breathing / other health problems for many others. Solutions to problems like air pollution and forest fuel management and not easy; however we need to start focusing attention to these macro-type issues at all orders of government.

• Collaboration – continuing on our progress in 2018, we plan to host a two-day forum for elected officials on governance in the region. Our goal is to gain a greater understanding of how our First Nations govern and manage programs, and to provide our municipal and First Nation leaders insight into how our regional governments works. Our essential outcome is understanding and how we can collaborate for the betterment of all residents of the East Kootenay.

Looking Ahead to 2019:

1. Solid Waste Management Plan Review – changes in how we deal with solid waste could have impacts for all residences and businesses within our region. Before implementing new approaches, the Board will consider input from public engagement sessions, surveys, and recommendations from our solid waste management review advisory committee. Up for review are key principles of waste management including system costs and revenues, waste diversion including

organics, and land fill. These discussions will be happening through the first few months of 2019, and we urge all residents to get involved in the discussions. In early 2019, the RDEK hopes to introduce the Recycle BC program into our recycling system, which will increase the types of materials we can recycle.

2. Living with Climate extremes – in 2019, we hope to see an increased focus on fire prevention. Some of the key areas of focus will be education, interagency cooperation, FireSmart principles for private land, community evacuation planning, on-ground fuel treatment, and public outreach. On the flooding side of things, we hope to complete the debris control on Fairmont creek and flood mitigation projects for the Elk River including more diking and public outreach.

3. Clean BC – Our Board will review the recent announcement by the Province and determine how we might contribute to the success of this exciting program. Major initiatives within the program include cleaner transportation, more energy efficient homes, cleaner industry, reduction in waste, and new employment and business opportunities within the sector.

4. Partnerships – we will continue to work with local community groups who have a vision and clear expectations around what benefits their proposed project or services will have on the social, economic and/or environmental well-being of our region.

On behalf of the Board and staff of the RDEK we wish you and your family all the best in 2019.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Kimberley residents were treated to the first Farmers' Market of the season, and the feeling of a return to normalcy. Paul Rodgers photos.
WATCH: Kimberley’s first Farmers’ Market of the season

Kimberley residents enjoyed the first Farmers’ Market of the year on Thursday,… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read