Directors debate division of community works funds
A proposal to amend policy regarding Community Works Funds sparked discussion about what’s good for whom and who should pay at the Feb. 28 meeting of Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors.
A $60,000 expenditure from the All Electoral Area Community Works Fund for a food waste composting study and regional waste composition study was the issue that had some electoral area directors asking why municipalities are not coughing up dollars for projects that benefit them.
Community Works Fund money is a gas-tax rebate given to local governments for projects that, in general, help clean up water, air or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The board approved the amendment, but not without discussion first.
“What is being recommended is we have had a couple of requests to support solid waste from the EAD (Electoral Area Directors) pool,” said Area E Rural Sicamous director Rhona Martin of the Electoral Area Directors. “If there’s something else that would benefit the whole region, maybe the municipalities could put some of their gas tax money into the fund.
If you get $100,000 gas tax, maybe put one per cent, or say $5,000, into the fund, then it’s truly a CSRD pool not just an EAD pool.”
Area D Falkland/Silver Creek/Ranchero director René Talbot noted area directors were asked to approve $300,000 for the composting facility in Golden and another $60,000 for the food waste study.
“That’s coming out of that same pot and municipalities are not putting anything in except the Revelstoke composting project,” he said. “If we’re all partners at the table and we set up this pool to benefit the whole region, I think the whole region has to participate.”
Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton said if municipalities were being asked for funding, it would be nice to be involved in electoral area meetings.
“I am not sure why EA directors have their own meetings away from the CSRD board,” he said.
But chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton explained the practice is not uncommon.
“They deal with a variety of EA issues without encumbering board directors,” he said. “Nothing is endorsed without coming to the board; it’s really dealing with several municipal like issues.”
Hamilton also weighed in on the case of who pays and who benefits.
He said allocation of gas tax funds should not be considered in isolation.
“Gas tax money for municipalities is oversubscribed, but from regional districts is under subscribed,” he told directors. “We have to look at give and take from both sides, and also look at demand on municipal gas tax funds, which is much greater than on regional districts.”
The amendment, meanwhile will speed up funding approvals as all but 10 per cent of applications for funding will now go directly to the board for approval without first having to have EAD approval.