The nature of what the Lower Columbia Initiative came up in council once again on Jan. 23. Coun. Jill Spearn asked the mayor to clarify the function of the LCI.
Mayor Greg Granstrom explained that the LCI is an initiative underneath the Lower Columbia Community Development Team, which is a service through the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.
“The city of Rossland agreed two years ago to fund an economic development function to the tune of, I think, $30,000 a year,” Granstrom said. “We agreed to do that for a three year period.”
He added that the intent at the time was that it would be self-sustaining shortly after it was formed.
“That may not quite have come to pass, in fact it hasn’t,” he said.
The initiative was created to attempt to generate some economic activity.
Spearn then expressed concerns of a performance bonus for the manager of the board, because “when someone’s looking for a performance bonus that tells me that obviously something must be great that’s going on.”
The mayor explained that the performance bonus had been built into the contract of the manager.
“The board voted to do that so we’ll continue to do that,” he said. “The reasoning for that was the fact that the board believes that there was sufficient recognition of the efforts, that the executive director deserved that bonus.”
Coun. Tim Thatcher asked if the other councillors felt they were getting their money’s worth with the project.
“For the amount Rossland is putting into it, do we feel that we’re getting enough out of it?” He said. “I’d like to have an example of what they’ve done in Rossland, if anything. You know, it’s been three years and I’m just wondering if we feel like we’re getting the money out of it.”
The mayor said that as they were only entering the third year of the three year agreement, it was still too early to pass judgment.
“So it definitely will be an item that we want to discuss to see if we’re getting value for that money,” he said, giving a few examples. “There’s a lot of things going on with Teck and those can’t be directly related for sure to the LCI, but in partnership with Teck, there are initiatives and I guess things to come that are in the development stage right now. But I think the short answer to a very long question is that it will be up to us to decide if we’re getting value for our money after this year’s up.”
Coun. Cary Fisher said that the feeling from those he talked to about the initiative, is that Rossland didn’t provide direction on what it wanted out of the deal.
“Now I’m not sure if that’s true or not” Fisher said. “But if that’s true and we entered into an agreement then that’s our part to give the guy direction and I don’t think that we can be sitting here saying, what have you done for us?”
Fisher said that they need to set a direction for the director from Rossland’s point of view.
His second point was that it is a regional position.
“I believe strongly that anything that’s good for Trail or Fruitvale, is good for Rossland as long as there are outcomes, measurable things and attainable goals,” he said.