Area L town-hall meeting draws crowd

The Cariboo Regional District’s (CRD) town-hall meeting held at Interlakes Community Hall on Jan. 29 had a good turnout from residents.

The Cariboo Regional District’s (CRD) town-hall meeting held at Interlakes Community Hall on Jan. 29 had a good turnout from residents.

More than 40 people turned out to hear CRD Area L Director Bruce Rattray and chief administrative officer Janis Bell present the district’s 2011 budget and five-year financial plan.

Rattray attributed a good part of the turnout to holding the meeting on the weekend.

“Having the Saturday meeting seems to help, but unfortunately you can’t always get it.”

Budget implications were discussed and ideas were tossed around on issues specific to Area L as well as some general regional concerns.

Several CRD staff members also attended and helped field questions.

When a resident asked if a public

referendum was

held before combining the recreation service areas recently, Rattray explained

the decision was made by the three area directors and the board.

“It was based on the improved efficiency and the need to recognize that those facilities and services are not just local, they provide services to a broader group of people.”

He noted this led to another query about the difference in population between 100 Mile area, which has about 800 family households, and Area L, with about twice that many.

The change in the cost of building permit renewals led to an interesting discussion, when Rattray brought up the point of individuals who continually renew permits and delay final inspections to avoid the costs of correcting deficiencies.

He said a resident commented that delayed building completion also avoids increased assessment and property tax rates.

The three Interlakes fire halls have not yet been expanded, and a resident asked why they are already paying for that.

The west and central halls are slated for extensions, while the east end hall sits on borrowed land and is currently waiting for a permanent building.

A related referendum had passed previously for these capital improvements, which also included fire engines and water tenders, and property owners have seen a corresponding tax increase.

“The tenders and the truck were done, they got those last year,” Rattray said.

The hall construction was delayed due to wildfires last summer redirecting the focus of CRD staff, and Rattray added there has been a slow process of negotiating with the province to purchase some Crown land where the new hall will be built.

“The money was borrowed to do all this work last year, and it’s being paid back over a 10-year timeframe. So even though it hasn’t all been expended yet, we are incurring interest.”

Rattray said staff explained that money needs to be ready before any major expenditure, so it sometimes sits in the bank earning interest and offsets some loan costs while projects move closer to fruition.

Regarding queries about mitigating the “unfair burden” on lakefront property owners because of high property assessments, he explained CRD staff continues to work hard to try to be creative with proposing potential solutions to the province, which mandates property taxation structures.

Numerous other topics were covered at the meeting, including solid-waste management issues and the misuse of landfill sites by non-residents.