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Posted: October 12, 2016

RDEK to help fund agricultural liaison services

Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board directors Oct. 7 voted to spend $60,000 a year for the next three years to take part in a multi-regional agricultural liaison services project.

The move followed almost three years of planning and discussion in conjunction with the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), with all three regional districts establishing agricultural plans.

The RDEK board adopted the RDEK Agricultural Plan in 2014. The plan recommended recruitment and retention of human resource capacity to implement some of the key actions within the plan. The RDCK and RDKB both have similar objectives within their Agricultural Plans.

In August 2015, the Board passed a resolution to formally request Columbia Basin Trust (Trust), RDCK and RDKB to assist with the development of a proposal for shared Agricultural Liaison Services for the Columbia Basin.

In May 2016, the board adopted a resolution that appointed director of planning Andrew McLeod and Michele Bates to represent the RDEK on the Regional Agricultural Liaison Services (RALS) Steering Committee and to proceed with the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The RFP would include goals and directives from each Agricultural Plan summarized through collaboration with CBT, RDCK and RDKB.

On September 19, a joint meeting between board chairs and senior staff of each partner was held to provide updates on the participating parties’ commitment to the initiative and to finalize decisions on the development and implementation of the RFP.

“The RDCK, RDKB and CBT have committed to providing staff resources and a financial contribution of $60,000/year for a three-year period. Representatives from CBT, RDCK and RDKB voiced their hesitation in moving forward without the financial commitment from the RDEK and concluded that in the event the RDEK does not commit their financial portion, they are willing to move forward as a joint project without the participation of the RDEK,” a RDEK planning report explained.

The regional board was not unanimous in its support for the spending.

City of Cranbrook Mayor and board member Lee Pratt said he had a concern about accountability.

“I’m not against it. What I am for is the accountability,” he said, telling board members he wants to make sure the money is being well spent.

Pratt, District of Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher and District of Sparwood Mayor Cal McDougall voted against providing the funds for the program, which is expected to cost $240,000 per year with equal contributions from the participating regional districts and the Trust ($60,000/year each).

The RDEK portion will be funded through the Planning & Development Services budget.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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