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RDCK looks to expand Local Conservation Fund participants

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
February 15th, 2022

The environment could find a new champion in the regional district.

Legislation is currently being prepared by Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) staff to create a funding stream to the Local Conservation Fund service for electoral areas H and F.

The fund was set up to provide grants to “support conservation efforts focused on the conservation of water and aquatic systems, as well as wildlife and habitat, with the ultimate goal of supporting actions to provide a healthy physical environment for future generations,” noted RDCK general manager of Development and Community Sustainability, Sangita Sudan, in her report.

And the support was there for the establishment of the fund. In the Kootenay Conservation program market research survey it showed a “higher majority support” for the Local Conservation Fund in both areas H and F.

There are only three areas that are involved in the program — areas A, D and E — which distributed $71,000 to eight different projects. Area F is the only electoral area surrounding Kootenay Lake that is not a part of the fund.

If the bylaws move forward and receive approval by the RDCK board of directors, elector approval will follow through a referendum that will run simultaneously with the local government elections occurring in October.

Sudan noted that if residents of areas F and H approve of joining the Local Conservation Fund service, property owners will be charged an annual parcel tax of $15.

“If the service is established in 2022 by assent voting in Areas F and H then 2023 will be focused on gathering parcel tax to fund the service implementation in 2024,” she noted in her report to the board.

 

Laying the groundwork

At the November 2021 RDCK board meeting, the program director for the Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) gave a presentation on a market research survey conducted to assess community readiness for the establishment of a “Local Conservation Service.”

“Currently the service exists in electoral areas A, D and E on Kootenay Lake which has been highly successful enabling local grant recipients to leverage this funding to access additional funding to support conservation efforts in the area,” Sudan said in her report.

However, three electoral areas — B, I and J — will not proceed with joining the service at this time, while areas C and G could be brought on board in 2023.

Before the vote takes place a meeting to develop public engagement strategy (for April) will be undertaken later this month between KCP and electoral area directors from F and H.

No money is being requested for the public process.

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