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Mayor’s Column – November 9, 2016

November 9, 2016


Relationships between municipalities and the Peace River Regional District are more often than not amicable and productive in spite of the ambiguities created by the nature of the Provincial legislation that created the Regional Districts.

In Chetwynd the most obvious points of contact involve the Chetwynd Recreation Complex and the Fire Protection Services. Very important but less obvious is the Regional District’s participation in the Economic Development Office (EDO).

From the perspective of Council and Administration, Economic Development, as promoted in the Chetwynd EDO, is never exclusive to the municipality. For other than legal and taxation purposes, we are not officially conscious of boundaries. Life and activity and promotion of opportunities flow forth and back as if Chetwynd and the Fringe Area were one. This is how it should be; we want to keep it this way.

As a lifetime resident of the Fringe Area but earning my keep primarily within the District of Chetwynd with regular responsibility in every other municipality in the North East, I probably have as strong a sense of regionality as can be experienced. I strongly promote the cooperation that will make us strong.

In 2015 the North East made a vigorous and successful case for maintaining Fair Share in the Region. In its present iteration as the Peace River Agreement, the North East receives 50 million annually to go primarily towards building and restoration of infrastructure. This fund is allocated to the municipalities and the Electoral Areas according to a complex formula that takes into consideration population and capital assessment.

The principal of Fair Share, in which we recognize that the billions of dollars in rural industrial infrastructure, not taxable by municipalities or the Regional District, represents a tangible real cost to the entire area through its use of area roads, lands, and services. The Provincial Government acknowledges this cost through this annual contribution.

I’ve been toying with the idea that the principle governing the Peace River Agreement allocation to the North East could be applied to other agreements between municipalities and Electoral Areas. Please be assured that I am merely throwing out an idea that may or may not make a lot of sense to you now. But let it percolate a while before you throw it out.

All of us who live in the Fringe Areas surrounding the municipalities make frequent use of municipal facilities, streets, services, and merchants. As users of the municipalities or the businesses located within them, we contribute to the wear and tear on the infrastructure and the cost of operating it. Not a lot, but some and some more than others.

This concept is more readily applied to services than to capital installations. Here is how it might work: If service A is necessary in every municipality but is a service that does not require full time employment in any municipality, the Regional District could take on the function and allocate to each participating municipality according to need and charge according to a formula similar to the Fair Share formula. This could relieve a lot of the angst presently involved in trying to fill certain needs.

If you have ideas for improvement of my idea send them to me at my District of Chetwynd email.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor