Creston Valley services committee discusses Columbia Basin Trust funding, BC Transit

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  • Nov. 12, 2013 3:00 p.m.
Creston Valley services committee discusses Columbia Basin Trust funding, BC Transit

A new funding program from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) needs agreement about what area will be covered, Kootenay Employment Services general manager Hugh Grant said at the Nov. 7 Creston Valley services committee (Regional District of Central Kootenay areas A, B and C, and the Town of Creston) meeting.

The Community Directed Funds Initiative, which will provide $200,000 annually for social, environmental and economic projects, requires broad support from community members and elected officials.

“The CBT is not imposing boundaries,” said CBT community initiatives director Gary Ockenden.

While the area of Yahk to Creston has been determined by a group of citizen representatives, other communities have yet to sign on.

When the CBT agreed to give the East Shore a separate $50,000 pot of money, other areas began to question why they shouldn’t get the same treatment.

“Lower Kootenay, Bountiful and Kitchener-Moyie all want to be distinct,” Kettle said.

“We’ll get there,” Ockenden said about the challenge of determining the fund’s boundaries.

“This is a great idea, but keep the politicians out of it,” Kettle said. “Once you put us into it, we politicize it and it changes the dynamic completely. If we are involved it does a disservice to the program.”

Ockenden said some areas have chosen to do just that, while others have included elected representatives on their committee.

“It’s their choice and what works for one might not work for another,” he said.

“I think we are making this more complicated than it needs to be,” said Creston Mayor Ron Toyota.

•Options to increase the cost efficiency of Creston Valley’s transit system were also discussed at the meeting.

Randy Matheson, research analyst for the RDCK, outlined four options for local regional directors to consider for the BC Transit service. They included making no changes, replacing the community shuttle route service with pre-booked on-demand service, reducing the community bus service to three days a week from five, and eliminating the community shuttle route service altogether.

Matheson made his presentation at the request of directors, who heard from BC Transit representatives earlier this year.

The community bus is one of three BC Transit services in the Creston Valley. A HandyDart system is used to transport qualified users from their residence to a destination, and Interior Health sponsors a regular run to Cranbrook for health appointments. All are highly subsidized through taxation, with only a small portion of the costs being carried by ridership fees.

Without changes to the system, taxpayer share of the BC Transit service are expected to increase by more than 10 per cent in 2014, Matheson said. Costs have been unchanged in the last five years.

After discussion of the options, and identifying a potential need to expand the health appointment run to East Shore residents, Matheson was directed to present other options in February.