Director's Corner - Aimee Watson

Update from Area D Director Aimee Watson, Sept 20, 2021

In this update:

  • Lardeau Valley Power Stability Community Meeting
  • Lardeau Valley Process
  • Community Planning
  • Transit
  • Watershed Governance Initiative
  • Organic Waste Diversion -Composting
  • Area D Commissions
  • UBCM meeting with the Village of Kaslo
  • Electoral Area Directors Forum: Local Government Financing _______________________________________________________________________________

1. Lardeau Valley Power Stability community meeting:In partnership with Lardeau Valley Opportunity Society (LINKs), we hosted a community meeting to review the Lardeau Valley Power Feasibility report. It was a complex meeting with presenters and residents online as well as in person, a big thank you to Kaslo InfoNet society for assisting us with technical know-how while using their very own Jitsi server to connect us all. The meeting reviewed the report recommendations and both utilities (BC Hydro and Fortis) presented what recommendations they were willing to support. For Fortis, they will not be reinstating the line worker that formally supported both the Village of Kaslo and North Kootenay Lake during outages, Fortis indicated this would now take 3 full-time employees to fulfill the role and there is no business case for this. BC Hydro will continue their vegetation removal program and offered to assess some areas of the distribution lines that could be moved from one side of the road to the other. Other recommendations to improve reliability were not deemed feasible, these include power generation at Duncan, redundant lines, and burying the lines. As the community heard there was not much more than clearing trees out of the way of poles that may fall in weather events, it was clear the solutions will rest with the community. The community discussion suggested two next steps:a) Work with the community halls to determine assets/gaps in infrastructure and coordination that would assist residents and businesses in a power outageb) Do an in-depth survey of residents and businesses to determine the gaps in backup power assets;Who does not have any backup systems (battery/generator/solar etc) and do they need a household assessment to determine the best system for them?

For number 1, LINKs is already working with CBT to connect the hall managers to a new funding program that will support this work. For number 2, LINKs is working on a survey to acquire this data. Once the need for backup power is better understood in terms of costs, I will work with stakeholders to create a program then propose it to various funders and the utilities.Further, we held a meeting with CBT and the Ministry of Energy and Mines to review the meeting and the outcomes. CBT was ready to work with us on our first outcome- supporting halls and there were some suggestions on how to better advocate for more linemen in our area. I will be joining the Village of Kaslo to meet with the Ministry of Energy and Mines to continue this dialogue around improved response rates to outages with more contractors on the ground, in our area, to remedy hydro issues. To read the minutes from the meeting:…/lardeau-valley-power…/

2. Lardeau Valley Process:Several years ago, the CBT and me as Area Director, identified that the Lardeau Valley was needing more support to achieve community-wide goals. What those goals were and how to achieve them was the goal of a recent engagement program lead by Wendy Booth with funding from CBT. The outcome of that work is a report that provides guidance on actions that multiple agencies and individuals can take to improve the resiliency of the region. For the full report, follow this link:Lardeau Valley Community Development Final Report | LARDEAU VALLEY OPPORTUNITY LINKS SOCIETYI am happy to report that I was able to extrapolate the action items and put them into a chart I called “who does it”. I am no fan of reports that collect dust and this one was essential to ensure it had action behind it. The great news is that most of the actions listed are either in motion or on their way to be – you can see that chart and who is doing what, here along with the report:…/aimee-watson-who-does…/.

3. Community planning:Throughout spring 2021, we hosted 6 online community meetings then released a community survey all to assess the interest and need for community planning. Community planning is a process to determine if the needs being requested by residents fall under zoning or other land-use regulations. Currently, Area D has a Comprehensive Land Use Bylaw (CLUB) which combines zoning with an Official Community Plan (OCP). An OCP is the foundation of any community planning process but is not regulatory- it lays the foundation as policy and objectives but to regulate those, zoning must be applied. Out of 24 unincorporated communities in Area D, Ainsworth is the only one with zoning. Many of the requests that come my way are based on issues that would require zoning to enforce thus after several years of various issues arising that the RDCK did not have authority to enforce, I requested our planning department to engage Area D to assess if zoning is the direction communities may want to go in. The community meetings were lively and raised many questions, as they should! Not all were answered but many were captured and best addressed with a frequently asked questions cheat sheet, which will be linked below. The next steps are to review the results of the survey combined with input received from community meetings to inform IF I will be asking for Area D to embark on land use regulation process. These initial conversations were to glean a temperature read across the whole area before just jumping into the actual process to enact regulation. I will do this review with the Area D Advisory Planning Commission at the end of October, results of those discussions and ultimately the question on if Area D will start looking at zoning and in what communities will be determined before January 2022 when our work plans for the upcoming budget are made. To review the community planning survey results, the FAQ’s and an overview of how community planning works in unincorporated communities, please see the links below.

4. TransitSeveral months ago, the draft West Kootenay Transit plan was released and indicated a proposal to remove the North Kootenay Lake route due to zero ridership. I am happy to report that this route will remain thanks to all those who contacted both BC Transit and RDCK staff to verify there was indeed use of this route. Further, there is an intention to look at more stops along 31 south to Coffee Creek, I am hoping to see a bus route in Ainsworth that at minimum, would also provide a safer spot for the school bus to pick up children, fingers crossed the two transit entities can work together for improved service and safety. To read the revised transit plan, see here:

5. Watershed Governance Initiative:Here is our recent media release on the work on watersheds, Argenta/Johnson Landing is one of the pilot projects, thanks to all those on the ground who assisted/participated in data collection. RDCK Watershed Governance Initiative | Regional District of Central Kootenay

6. Organic Waste Diversion Study (Composting!)As part of our joint economic ventures, Kaslo and Area D commissioned a study to determine how North Kootenay Lake could support composting. The report review types of systems; local government operate and community-based, volumes within the area to determine what size would fit us and options for moving forward. As the RDCK is building two composting facilities, the option to be connected to them is on the table but may not be feasible due to hauling, which could defeat the intention of reducing GHG’s and be cost-prohibitive, or perhaps it could be processed with a much smaller system at the Kaslo transfer station. Other options are community-based services outside of local government. Where we go from here does require more information, such as the cost of hauling and cost options for onsite processing, the recommendation is to request a business case review of these options that would give the Village of Kaslo a better understanding of the financial burden for a curbside pickup program. The good news is that this business case would be supported through the RDCK and there are several federal funds for capital needs at this time. We also know that our more rural communities, Mirror Lake south and Shutty Bench north would likely fall into the rural support component if onsite processing were not available at the Kaslo transfer station, which is the most efficient way. I will continue to support the electric fencing and bear bins through the Grizzly Bear solutions team and would like to see further supports for composting measures such as bokashi or other tools to reduce the animal attractants while increasing the soil resources. The next steps will be to hear what the Village of Kaslo council would like to do while simultaneously, I look at rural supports through our broader regional resource recovery service. Thanks to Patrick Steiner and Maura Walker and Associates for their work on this important review. To read the final report, follow this link to page 4:…/2021-07-12-NKSLC_Agenda_Package…

7. Commissions for Area DThere are several commissions that are not able to meet or do business as there are not enough members. There are consistent ads in the papers, and I believe most of my reports identify these commissions as needing participants, regardless, there are still vacancies! The purpose of commissions is to provide local context and recommendations to the elected officials on the services the commission represents. With 24 communities and 20+ services, these commissions are very important to ensure the community input is incorporated into decisions. I would be grateful to see residents join the following commissions, if you are interested, send me an email with which one, and I will share more information about the process.

-Advisory Planning Commission (APC) reviews and provides input on land use planning

-Glacier Creek Commission, as stated above but specific to Glacier Creek Park

-Kaslo and Area D Recreation Commission

-Woodbury Community Advisory Committee (CAC), this committee is specific to the Woodbury water system

8. UBCM meetings with the Village of KasloI was invited by Mayor Hewat to join the Village of Kaslo for two ministerial meetings; the first one was with the Ministry of Health to discuss distance to acute services and concerns over paramedic stability and the second was with the Ministry of Energy and Mines to discuss power stability. Summary of the first meeting with the Ministry of Health: Access to health care services is a challenge for residents of small municipalities like Kaslo. The Community Paramedicine program has helped and the Village would like to explore additional possible solutions to the patient transportation issues faced by constituents (lack of public transit/commercial carriers, travel times, weather events/road closures).Summary of the second meeting with the Ministry of Energy and Mines: Kaslo has experienced frequent and lengthy power outages, impacting the personal safety of residents and limiting economic development. Improvements to the reliability of the electrical distribution system are needed in order to accommodate growth, reduce the area’s reliance on fossil fuels and make a successful transition to renewable energy sources. Kaslo is seeking provincial guidance and support for exploring possible solutions.

9. Electoral Area Directors Forum: Local Government FinancingAs part of our annual Union of BC Municipalities conference, we have an electoral area directors forum. The topic at this year’s forum was a review and discussion on local government financing. The Strong Fiscal Futures Report – A Blueprint for Strengthening BC Local Governments’ Finance System1 (SFF) was developed in 2013 and presented to UBCM membership and the provincial government as a blueprint for change to the British Columbia local government financial system. The SFF evaluated strengths and challenges inherent in the existing system of local government finance in BC. The SFF included an analysis of potential revenue tools that was supported by a framework, or blueprint, that established an agenda for change and necessitated a partnership between the province and local government to grow the economy. It focused on five key directions – Resiliency, Value, Responsiveness, Fairness, and Excellence. It also identified initial priorities, which included addressing cost-driversIn 2019, the UBCM Executive provided direction to review and ‘refresh’ the SFF, re-establishing the UBCM Select Committee on Local Government Finance. The Select Committee began its work in December 2019. Unfortunately, with the onset of the pandemic, the Select Committee’s work was put on hold, re-starting in January 2021.My primary input thus far has been to review the regulatory burden that is consistently increasing the cost-of-service delivery and further, that most regulations are created based on concentrated development areas as opposed to rural and geographically sparse land base. The latter is quite challenging to make a business case for and is, on average, more expensive to achieve or prohibitive such as fire services in the Lardeau Valley and operating small water systems.