Mayor's Musings for May 2024—By Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford

By Tasha

Mayor's Musings for May 2024

by Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford


The District of Elkford has so much going on—so many buns in the oven—that I’m going to give you an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink rundown of what’s been on my mind and take this opportunity to ruminate on some deeper thoughts.

Let’s get cooking!


BC Builds Program

First, let’s talk about the BC Builds program. This exciting housing program was designed to bring builders, developers and nonprofits /housing operators together to support and accelerate the construction of lower-cost rental homes, creating housing that middle-income people in British Columbia can afford.

As I type this, there are eight promoted locations in B.C.: Kamloops, Kelowna, North Cowichan, Sooke and three in Langley. And (drumroll, please): first on the list is ELKFORD! You read that right, our downtown core development area is at the top of the opportunities listed in the program on their website. Yes—more sites will be added in the coming weeks and months, but what an amazing opportunity for our community!

Visit the BC Builds website at This page has all the details, including subsidies of up to $225,000 per unit built, low-cost financing for builders and developers and more. The program is aimed at middle-income households, which is defined as incomes from $84,780 to $131,950 per couple.

My kudos to the hard-working staff of the District of Elkford. They have done the planning, applications, service provision/lot re-alignment, sidewalks, paving designs, promotion and used their creativity to get us on the map. Kudos also to your council for their vision and enthusiasm, as well as their trust in the professionals to get the job done for the district.

Let’s all hope this results in many new homes for residents in Elkford!


Community: Defining it

The word “community” is a noun. It means different things depending on the sentence and paragraph that it is in. It can mean ‘a group of people living together in one place,’ or ‘a group unified by common interests’ (a fellowship, if you will), or ‘the people of a place considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities.’

“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country,” said the late John F. Kennedy at his presidential inaugural address on January 20, 1961.

That statement has framed my life.

That statement was also a catch phrase for the creation of a more inclusive national community and many other extraordinary things that happened around this time in history. Not just in the United States of America, but up north—here, in Canada—and around the world. Everyone contributed and, in the end, everyone was better off.

There are realities to contend with, though. Not everyone is in support of everything: some people pay more, other people get more but ultimately in the end, everyone is collectively better off.

So how does this tie in with community, you might be wondering? Well: “ask not what your community can do for you—ask what you can do for your community.”

Bylaws? In the best interest of the larger community. Consideration for the impacts of our actions upon others, whether that is our families, immediate neighbours, visitors or strangers farther down the street. What is in the best interest of the larger community may not be in your best interest, but it is in the best interest of the community that you belong to and have a responsibility to.

Traffic regulations? Again, in the best interest of the larger community. When do we have issues with other drivers? Is it because we are in a hurry or because they are driving aggressively? Either way, our attitudes and behaviours can be adjusted to benefit the community of road users. School speed zones, stop signs. There are community-based reasons for these things.


Community: Driving it Forward

Fact: volunteerism helps grow the community. And a sense of community.

Do you want to see a new program offered? Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you: head on down to the Community Conference Centre (or contact the Community & Facility Services department at 250.865.4010) and find out how you can get it going. Volunteerism is pretty much how every single nonprofit, every single recreational group and club started here in Elkford. From knitting to the golf course, the snowmobile club and the Nordic ski club. Someone started it. Volunteers are keeping it going. The rink, the swimming pool, the ski hill, the bike park, the trails network—yup, all dreamed of by citizens just like you. And driven forward by citizens, and maintained by citizens, as well as with the collective efforts of the entire town. Success comes with everyone’s support.

Together, those things help to create a community that draws families to live here, to contribute here, and to enjoy being here. Which—as a side benefit—helps to keep the value of your house growing. They all have a cost that we all share, as a community.


Community: Influencing it

“Ask not what your neighbours can do for you—ask what you can do for your neighbours.”

Consider how your actions impact your neighbours. How do your actions impact the others on your street? Parking considerations, noise, cleaning all the snow off your windows in the winter, keeping your property clean and FireSmart. Caring for your pets responsibly, throwing parties, responsibly managing garbage, maintaining your yard and home’s exterior, respecting the local wildlife… you get the gist. The considerations of being a good neighbour are many.

The bottom line is that what we do influences others. We can choose to make it positive, or we can choose to make it negative. Be positive, my friends.

Community. It’s not about our ‘rights’ but rather our ‘responsibilities’ to the greater good.


Seniors’ and Accessible Housing Construction Update

Let me provide a quick update on the construction of the accessible housing building in the downtown core (known to many as the ‘senior’s housing project’—and it is but note that it’s also for residents with diverse needs, such as those who live with disabilities, who require accessible housing).

An official news release by the Ministry of Housing was published on April 30 of this year about this exciting project. The numbers in that release—the financial contributions to it—total approximately $19 million (and change). Divide that by the twenty-five units in the building. That creates a market value per unit (mostly one-bedroom units) of $769,800 each. Thankfully, these are not for sale. They are purpose-built rental units, and the project will have a mortgage to repay. The community will protect access to these homes for those who need them.

Thank you to the Elkford Housing Society (a nonprofit run by volunteers) for all their hard work and dedication to this project. Thank you also to the many levels of government, nonprofits and organizations that have made this project into a reality. According to official news release from the Ministry of Housing, funding for this project is as follows: the Province (through BC Housing) provided approximately $2.8 million to the project from the Building BC: Community Housing Fund, the federal government provided $12.7 million (through the Affordable Housing Fund), the Canada-British Columbia Bilateral Agreement provided $975,000 in joint funding (under the National Housing Strategy), the Columbia Basin Trust provided approximately $670,000, the Regional District of East Kootenay provided approximately $500,000, the District of Elkford provided approximately $200,000 in in-kind assistance and Teck Coal Limited provided $1 million (as well as an in-kind land donation valued at approximately $400,000). This is a notable example of community support—the support of many—joining together to make something great happen.

Community. It can also be defined as support for those who need it. That’s one of the best parts of belonging to a community, in my eyes.


In Conclusion

I’m closing with a thank you to everyone who is continuing to reduce the mass (and volume) of their household’s solid waste. The numbers from GFL Environmental (Waste Management Company) and the Regional District of East Kootenay continue to show that our tonnage of solid waste is dropping, while our tonnage of recycling is increasing.

This is the only way to manage our solid waste costs going forward. Keep it up, Elkford—we are trending in the right direction, and I applaud you on your recycling habits!


Yours sincerely,
Mayor Steve

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