This is a correction: When I was first told the residents of West Fernie would decide on the proposed services and restructure for their community by a petition I expected it would be the same system the RDEK had used a number of times before. But the RDEK Sept. 2011 information package describes a new formula for a petition that the provincial government may have tailored just for situations like West Fernie.
For this petition the project will be described in general terms and it could be more than a year before the full costs and grants are known. Property owners, no matter where they reside on the planet, get the right to vote by signing the petition, but long terms residents who rent do not get that right even when they meet the elector qualifications. For this petition all property owners including corporations and those from out of province or even those who are not Canadian citizens will get what amounts to elector status when they sign the petition. For a local election non-resident voters must be a Canadian citizen and a resident of B.C for the past 6 months. This petition allows real estate speculators from Timbuctoo to have a say in our communities while some hard working residents in our resource industry are excluded. A signed returned petition is a yes vote. The ones sent out but not returned are a no, they reject the project.
West Fernie residents deserve to be treated as well as other Canadian citizens and that includes having the right to make decisions about their own community under the same elector qualifications as other Canadian citizens. The government officials, elected and otherwise, who thought up and tried to foist this petition on West Fernie residents have no place in a democratic government. Since the RDEK has added about 40 lots to the roster that were not in the WFWD and were not developed so they have no roads water or homes because the unstable slopes require expensive engineered earthworks, like those saving the River Rock Condos from destruction to make them habitable, there is a good chance the non-resident owners of those 40 lots will want the resident W.F owners to pay for those expensive engineering earthworks so they can profit from their investment. With 225 lots all they need is 75 of the 85 homes to go with the vacant lots and you have 115 for and 100 against. Your RDEK rep gets things done.
When the rural Director and the three Mayors got together at the RDEK and organized Fire Suppression Services for most of the Area A, most residents were happy since most of the added cost was taken care of my redirecting some of the Mines tax from the municipalities to the rural areas. And when the rural Director with the support of the three Mayors had the Agricultural Land Reserve boundaries redrawn most residents shrugged. However, the sudden increase in subdivision and development in the Elk Valley and the latest proposal to have tax payers install services in West Fernie for high density development should make rural residents aware that the services are meant to attract more weekenders to the area and increase tourism, not protect the agricultural part of our economy. When the residents in the subdivisions complain to local politicians about ranching noises and smells, insist on their right to drive their snow machine everywhere and farm land assessments go up because you can’t grow bananas and local developers are lobbying all governments to make more land available to them you might wonder if the saving in insurance costs was worth it.