Elk Valley Community Directed Funds Committee to ask public for more input
The Elk Valley Community Directed Funds Committee (EVCDFC) consists of Mary Giuliano, mayor of Fernie (Committee Chair), Lois Halko, mayor of Sparwood, Dean McKerracher, mayor of Elkford; Mike Sosnowski, director of RDEK Area A; John Baher, Micheal Hepher, Dan Savage and Troy Tobin are the four community representatives. From 2013 through 2015, CBT is granting $200,000 each year. Their role is to determine how the $600,000 will be spent over three years. So far $20,000 has been spent on consulting services rendered by Zumundo and there have been administration costs as well.
The goals and objectives of the Elk Valley Community Directed Funds are to: implement projects or activities that demonstrably work to achieve long-term goals for the Elk Valley, aligned with relevant Valley-wide plans, and implement projects that contribute to community benefits that align with CBT's mandate to "support efforts by the people of the Basin to create a legacy of social, economic and environmental well-being and to achieve greater self-sufficiency for present and future generations."
The development of the plan occurred between August 2013 and January 2014 resulting in the draft summary report that was compiled and presented to the EVCDFC by contractor Zumundo on Friday, Jan. 24. The public consultation collected 750 ideas from 282 participants with 15 themes and 49 main ideas.
The top 10 project ideas are:
1. Create a non-motorized valley bottom trail connecting communities
2. Create a multi-use back-country trail connecting communities
3. Improve opportunities for childcare and early childhood learning options
4. Develop Elk Valley-wide teen and youth programs
5. Support development of an Elk Valley Arts Council
6. Host festivals, expos and events involving all three communities
7. Support for Elk Valley farming and food growing initiatives
8. Improve Elk River access and stewardship
9. Host Elk Valley Games and/or other large sporting events
10. Develop Elk Valley branding and economic development marketing strategy
As Zumundo presented the draft plan to EVCDFC, the debate began how to chose from the top ten. John Bayer suggested that they look at all the ten priorities the community brought up and see which project or program could fulfill a high number of community priorities identified rather than picking one project that could essentially push aside the other nine topics.
Dean McKerracher wants to make sure that which ever project is selected, it will be completed. McKerracher and Dan Savage both agreed that a feasibility study for a couple of the larger projects would be prudent. McKerracher also said that some of the top ten ideas are vague; he used “improve opportunities for childcare and early learning options” as an example. “What does that look like?” asked McKerracher. “That could be a variety of things.”
The selection must also follow the criteria established by the EVCDFC which includes that the project must not compete with local businesses.
The challenge for the committee of eight people is how can they know of all the resources that are available in the community that will give the support and chance for the chosen project to be fulfilled. With that it was decided that Andrew McLeod, special initiatives coordinator, Regional District of East Kootenay would amend the draft plan to engage the public once again and the committee will continue to use Zumundo if further work is required.
“At the end of the meeting, the Committee passed a resolution that the draft Community Priorities Plan be amended to include a funding allocation strategy based on proponents’ submission of a project information letter for committee review,” said McLeod.
“The Committee discussed the preference to see project ideas that were consistent with the ten project priorities listed in the draft plan and that could be commenced and completed within the timeframe of the funding program. More details and more debate about how this process will be rolled out and discussed at the next Committee meeting.”
Jennifer Krotz, Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) community liaison was at Friday's meeting to answer questions regarding CBT's stance.
“I want to remind the committee that these funds can be used to help leverage other funds,” said Krotz. “The public consultation generates a broader perspective of a regional directive. This three year project is a pilot. Feedback of the process will go back to the CBT board.”
While the CBT board has not committed to anything more than three years (2013-15), the project could continue on past 2015 if the CBT board so chooses.
The next committee meeting will be on February 21, at 9:30 am at the Fernie City Hall and is open to the public. For a copy of the draft report, go to ftp://ftp.rdek.bc.ca/elkvalleycommdirectedfunds/evcdfagenda_dec13.pdf.