Mayor's Musings for March 2023—By Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford
Mayor's Musings for March 2023
by Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford
Hello Elkfordians! What’s new was once new, once before, at least once before.
I’d like to share with you some quotes from the November 1981 edition of The Carbon Copy (the news magazine of Fording Coal Limited):
“The changes you’ve noticed around Elkford lately are a result of an expected population boom anticipated to raise the population from 3,400 to 8,700 by 1987, the private and public sector is expected to spend $150 million to expand residential, commercial and industrial facilities. .. Currently, three housing divisions are in various stages of development. The homes in Balmer Knoll are almost ready for occupancy. .. Fifty homes are owned by Fording while the Village will be marketing ten housing lots and an apartment site. .. The servicing of Chauncey Ridge area is complete with some home construction expected to commence in 1982. .. Fording owns 141 of the 251 lots and one apartment to be marketed by the Village and 50 by Crows Nest Resources.”
More quotes to come in upcoming musings. Now, let’s cover some District of Elkford news!
Training and Conferences
‘Mayoring’ and ‘councilloring’ (yes, I have coined those words, they are now part of the English language) have taken up a lot of time for your elected officials (and the Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Corporate Services). Workshops and learning session—lots of them!
‘Tis the Season of Strategic Planning
Your mayor and councillors have focused on reducing the number of projects facing staff so that we can better manage the ones already in front of us: paving, downtown core ‘vitalization’, Boivin Creek corridor, the daycare, housing and the renewal of the Official Community Plan. Controlling costs as we move forward is a major driver in our decision-making process.
Taxes and Budgeting
We often hear: “Teck Resources should pay for this.” Currently, Teck Resources pays approximately 59 per cent of our property tax base. So, yes, they do pay for a lot of ‘this.’ $3.94 million if you want to know. Residential taxes bring in approximately 33 per cent of our taxes, or $2.19 million.
Your tax bill covers several ‘flow-through’ taxes that the DoE collects and then passes on to other ‘bodies’: the RCMP, hospital, RDEK, provincial school system, etc. It also includes utility charges, such as water, sewer and solid waste. Those fees cover the day-to-day operational costs of providing these services to you. Parcel taxes create a ‘restricted reserve’ to cover replacement costs for capital assets of the District.
Community and Recreation Parcel Tax –Why?
So that we can provide sustainable community and recreation services through the parcel tax provisions of the Community Charter. This parcel tax will allow us to tax all properties within the municipality, including large major industrial sites, which otherwise, we are unable to collect from as they pay only what is required under the Elk Valley Property Tax Sharing Agreement in lieu of taxes (Yes, they are different!).
Volunteers in Elkford
A shout-out to the many people who are keeping the many activities in town going! The groomers with the Elkford Trails Alliance, Elkford Snowmobile Association and Elkford Nordic Ski Club. Wapiti Ski Club, thanks for getting the hill open! Elkford Minor Ball Association, Elkford Curling Club and even the golf course folks putting on the Home Routes concert series… and others! If we don’t step up, none of those great things will exist.
Interface Fire Treatments
Well, finally, after many delays and discussions, there will be slash piles being burned ‘in your backyard’. Yes, true. The burning is being supervised by your local fire department. This is the final step in completing the grant requirements from the Union of BC Municipalities as part of our most current ‘interface fire prevention’ treatment program.
Daycare Building and Opening
May 2023 (if all the stars and supply chains align) will see the opening of the permanent home of the non-profit daycare facility in what we call the ‘old office’. As a result of the very hard work of our senior management staff, and the generosity of other levels of government and funding partners, the hope is for the entire cost of construction ($2 million, give or take) to be covered by GRANT funding. Lease revenue is designed to cover the ongoing running costs of the structure.
Elk Valley Resources
Wow—Teck shedding of its coal division is massive news! History unfolds. I think it’s good for Elkford. Have I met with representatives of the new company? Yes. They’ve all been very positive and “valley-minded.”
The RFP has closed, and staff and council will be deliberating soon. Yes, having “rough road” signs down on Alpine Way is a really good idea.
Advocacy continues. We seem to have reached a stage in the process where “things are about to happen,” ”we’ll be back with a solid proposal in two weeks,” and “we are really interested and we’ll be approaching our funding partners.” I have signed a couple of letters of support for projects going through the Rapid Housing Initiative announced through the provincial government. Who knows? The future is a big place.
Yes, more retail and commercial space too! It’s a bit of “chicken and egg.” It’s also about residents keeping their pay cheques in town and actually supporting small businesses.
Yep. Advocacy continues. Two full-time equivalent doctors are reported to start in July and an emergency department up to a year later (if it is opened again). Yes, the ventilator was removed from the clinic at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. No, it has not been returned… yet.