The District of Sparwood will once again have a say in RDEK planning decisions. File photo

Sparwood opts back into RDEK planning function

Sparwood withdrew funding from the RDEK planning department for 2018, citing fiscal prudence

Sparwood will once again have a voice in regional planning decisions.

Last year, the District decided to pull funding for the Regional District of East Kootenay planning department, citing fiscal prudence.

The RDEK planning department manages the land and develops policy for land that is not within municipal government boundaries.

Under the Elk Valley Official Community Plan, Electoral Area A is encouraged to direct commercial development to local municipalities.

In 2017, Sparwood’s contribution to the planning function was $39,401. Then Mayor Cal McDougall questioned whether it made sense to contribute to a regional planning service when the District already had a municipal planning department.

LOOK BACK: RDEK directors spar over funding contributions

Elkford also opted out of the cost-sharing agreement, resulting in both districts losing their right to vote on planning issues within RDEK jurisdiction.

Their withdrawal also threatened to increase taxes for property owners.

In response to municipalities’ concerns, the RDEK proposed a revised cost-sharing formula.

Under the new agreement, Sparwood will contribute $24,512 annually from January 1, 2019 to December 2023.

At the December 17 regular meeting, Mayor David Wilks, who is also on the RDEK Board of Directors, argued in favour of opting back into the planning function.

He said the decision to withdraw had disadvantaged the District, using an application to install a large illuminated sign near Sparwood as an example.

Wilks explained he was opposed to the project but was powerless to stop it being approved.

“Even though it was in the Elk Valley, I couldn’t vote on it because we weren’t in the planning,” he said.

“… it’s things like that, that could become awkward for the District of Sparwood when we’re not in something that we need to be speaking to, or at least voting on.”

Wilks believes the ability to vote gives Sparwood “more credence at the table” and the council agreed, approving the new agreement at a 25 per cent participation rate.

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Before the District closed for Christmas, Sparwood Mayor David Wilks (right) presented cheques for $250 to representatives from the Sparwood Food Bank and Toys for Tots. The District makes annual donations to these organizations under its Donations in Lieu of Christmas Cards Policy. Submitted

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