The fracture in regional relationships was front and centre for all candidates during last month’s civic election, regardless the municipality.
Now could be the time for some healing to begin.
Keeping with their promises to re-establish strong ties within the neighbourhood, a trio of new faces will sit at the regional table next week – and they’re all first term mayors.
Mike Martin will represent the Silver City as director on the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) board beside Rossland’s Kathy Moore and Ted Pahl from the Village of Warfield.
The three new mayors begin their appointments on the RDKB’s East End Services next Thursday, joining Montrose Mayor Joe Danchuk, Patricia Cecchini, Fruitvale’s mayor and incumbents Ali Grieve, Area A’s director and Linda Worley from Area B.
It’s been a busy three years and a lot of back and forth between the seven participants as various regional services came to an end. But there remains a number of issues to either resolve or lay to rest.
Topping the list is Trail’s proposed boundary extension into Area A’s industrial base – mitigation hasn’t begun on that complex tier of Waneta Dam taxes; another is the lack of a recreational agreement between Trail, the Beaver Valley, and Rossland; and the ongoing turbulence over sewerage expenses between Rossland, Warfield and Trail has yet to reach a conclusion.
Some matters were settled just prior to the Nov. 15 local election, such as costs to string a new sewer pipe across the Columbia River and most recently, an economic service agreement was renewed.
But all the candidates admit that relationships between East End Service stakeholders are in need of a fix.
“The expectation that I had from the community and the region was that I would establish a presence and voice in the regional district,” explained Martin.
“The only way I could do that was to be at the regional table,” he said.
“For the first time in recent past, having all mayors at table is very important because we have a similar goal in mind – to repair damaged relationships that existed, establish new relations and work together to move the region forward.”
Rossland’s new mayor and RDKB appointee Kathy Moore, reiterates Martin’s view and says she’s ready to take on the complex issues that have been raised at the regional level.
“For our local area, the liquid water management planning process and agreement has been a huge challenge,” she noted.
“Regional recreation, particularly the differing fees for use of the Trail Aquatic Centre has been an ongoing issue that has hurt all of our local communities,” Moore said.
“I am confident that we can find a solution that is fair to all participants. And I look forward to working cooperatively and collaboratively with the representatives of the other local governments.”
Warfield’s Mayor Pahl maintains getting involved with RDKB politics is in line with his campaign promise to work with village constituents to improve neighbourhood alliances.
“I think having the mayors working together at the RDKB level will give us the opportunity to build relationships with each other as people, which will assist in improving the relations between our communities.”
That’s a promising message for third term Area A Director and current EES chair, Ali Grieve, who says it doesn’t matter who sits at the regional table, what matters is how one shows up at the table.
“While we are there to share opinions, we must also listen to understand,” she explained. “In my view the understand piece may have been absent in some cases.”
The decision for local councils to appoint their mayors isn’t surprising, she continued.
“I sense this is about appointing a strong leader to help bring about some necessary changes which start at the top. The mayors, and rural directors will have to demonstrate the changes they want to see,” Grieve said, adding, “I have a very good feeling about these appointments, and am optimistic about new opportunities to seek solutions that will work for everyone.”
Cecchini is finishing up her first year as Fruitvale’s RDKB director, and says the position has broadened her understanding about the inner workings of regional district services and the importance of cost sharing to minimize the financial impact to the village’s taxpayers.
Now elected to his second term as Montrose mayor, Danchuk said his take on an all-mayor board is that the new people want to work together.
“And get more of a cooperative spirit going to build up relationships that didn’t work well in the last term,” he added.