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RDEK proposes new Flood Control Service at open house

Area A Director Mike Sosnowski (left) explains the proposed Flood Control Service to residents during an open house at the Hosmer Community Hall on March 31. - Nicole Obre
Area A Director Mike Sosnowski (left) explains the proposed Flood Control Service to residents during an open house at the Hosmer Community Hall on March 31.
— image credit: Nicole Obre

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is hoping to bring a new Flood Control Service to Electoral Area A to help fund flood mitigation projects. Area A Director Mike Sosnowski, RDEK Engineering Services Manager Brian Funke, and RDEK Chief Financial Officer Shawn Tomlin unveiled the proposal during an open house at the Hosmer Community Hall on Monday, March 31.

Under the Local Government Act, funds that are collected by a regional district for a service must stay with that specific service. The RDEK currently has additional revenue from the taxes collected for the Solid Waste Service. Their intention is to use the revenue to reduce the taxation for the Solid Waste Service, offsetting a new taxation for the Flood Control Service.

“Right now we don’t have a flood control service and so there isn’t a service to pull money from,” said Chief Financial Officer Shawn Tomlin. “Because we have to maintain each service with its own separate fund, in order to provide this ongoing flood mitigation fund, we need to be collecting the taxes specifically for it.”

Funds for the Flood Control Service would be collected through property taxation to cover the regular maintenance costs of flood control infrastructure and to create a reserve fund. The reserve fund would allow the RDEK to have the match funding (community portion) required when grant programs become available from the provincial and federal governments, enabling them to take on larger projects. On top of going towards flood mitigation projects, the funds could contribute to the operation and maintenance of flood related works or improvements, such as dikes and berms.

“If we can make a couple hundred-thousand dollars a year out of the [Solid Waste Service], move that money over to the [Flood Control Service], over the years, I’d like to see a million dollars reserved for when diking programs come along,” commented Area A Director Mike Sosnowski. “This way, everybody in the valley benefits from that municipal solid waste reserve, and we’re just moving it, so it’s not costing the guy on the hill, or the guy on the floodplain, any money.”

Community members in attendance voiced their concerns with the proposal, questioning if there would be a strategic flood plan developed, why engineers and experts weren’t present at the meeting, and how the problem areas would be determined. Residents also asked why there were no solutions for flood issues that are happening right now.

Sosnowski explained this is only the first step in the process and that it is necessary to address any of the other concerns. If the proposed service proceeds, potential projects identified by the public, river engineering consultations, and the RDEK would be brought forward and prioritized by the RDEK Board.

“This meeting tonight isn’t about the projects that we’re going to do. It’s about using the vehicle we have found to raise money to do projects,” Sosnowski stated. “Anything we can do is better than doing nothing. Moving forward is better than spinning our wheels. We’re just lucky to have the money available.”

An alternative approval process will be conducted by the RDEK in the next few months. Eligible electors in Area A will be given the chance to submit an Elector Response Form if they are opposed to the Flood Control Service being established. If after the deadline, at least 10 per cent of the electors in Area A have signed and submitted Elector Response Forms, the RDEK Board will not be able to move forward with establishing the service unless it receives assent of the electors by voting.

The bylaw related to the proposed service was given three readings by the RDEK Board on Friday, April 4, and will now be forwarded for Ministry approval.

The alternative approval process is expected to begin in mid to late May, however, it will depend on when the RDEK gets the draft bylaw back from the Ministry.

For more information on the proposed Area A Flood Control Service, visit  www.rdek.bc.ca.

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