April 2018 Kicker article

The quest to study the possibility of incorporating some or all of the North Shuswap has hit a snag.

For two years now a group of community supporters has organized, funded, overseen and completed an Incorporation Study suggesting that Scotch Creek is a viable area for incorporation. With that study in hand, and over 300 letters of support from local residents (and seven letters opposed), we asked the CSRD to request a Governance Study grant from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. After initial objections, Director Morgan asked the CSRD board to make the request. In October 2017 a letter  was sent requesting a grant of $40,000 to be matched with $20,000 CSRD funds to study future governance options for the North Shuswap.

The Ministry responded on February 19th, 2018 suggesting that our communities “would not have sufficient numbers of permanent residents nor the diversity in tax base required to be considered for municipal incorporation.”. I guess they didn’t see our study. They also commented that the Official Community Plan (OCP) vision is to “remain a predominantly rural area”. In truth, these two comments are basically true.

Taken as a whole, the North Shuswap is very spread out. Road maintenance is one of the main costs of a municipality, and the kilometers of roads vs. the number of residents in some of our communities means a large expense with a small tax base. Our study shows that a smaller area like Scotch Creek should be viable. And yes, the OCP is currently bound by the vision of 10 years ago. It’s not wrong, but many things change in 10 years. Although we don’t want rampant development, new services in eating, entertainment, sport and healthcare would be welcome.

The Ministry asks that we shift the conversation to “what can be achieved within the existing governance system.”, meaning within the CSRD framework. They are willing to contribute to a community issues assessment if “the CSRD Board and community can accept that this work needs to lead to potential solutions within the existing regional district framework, rather than the establishment of a municipal structure in a portion of or all of Electoral Area F.”

Hmm… Well, what’s so great about incorporation anyway? I see two main benefits. The first is that being incorporated provides much better access to a variety of funds and grants that could contribute to services and amenities. The second is local control of our own destiny. Can we achieve these goals without incorporating? The CSRD seems to be listening, but they are a big organization and have a very large area of responsibility. Can they reduce our frustration?

Currently the CSRD is considering two plans that may alleviate some irritation. A community water study for Scotch Creek, and discussions with the Little Shuswap Indian Band regarding using their waste water treatment facilities for some Scotch Creek effluent. (The timing of these initiatives is interesting, being after the Incorporation Study push, and just before an election…)  If both of these proposals come to pass the door may open for some progress, or, dare I say it, growth.

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