Incorporation committee asks the CSRD to request the study

The recent letter from the Ministry states that they wouldn’t support or fund a formal study of municipal incorporation but they may consider funding a community issues assessment IF the CSRD board and community “can accept that this work needs to lead to potential solutions within the existing regional district framework, rather than the establishment of a municipal structure in a portion of or all of Electoral Area F.”

We, the Incorporation Committee, feel that any conversation with the Ministry will be valuable in pursuing much needed change in the development of the North Shuswap. With discussion come ideas, with ideas come plans, with plans come change. The status quo is not an option. Declining this dialogue will do us no good.

We have therefore asked Director Morgan to request the CSRD board to respond to the Ministry letter asking that they contribute to a community needs assessment with the goal of reviewing our current status and future goals. Then once defined, to determine if there are ways and options of working with the CSRD to realize those goals.

This is not our original desire, but it is a step in the right direction.

Baby steps…

Ministry responds to CSRD request

On February 19th, 2018 the CSRD received a response from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The letters basically states that “that the conditions do not exist in the North Shuswap area to support a viable municipality at this time.” It goes on to say

“The North Shuswap area is comprised of a number of small and relatively isolated rural communities stretched along the north side of Shuswap Lake. These communities, including Scotch Creek, would not have sufficient numbers of permanent residents nor the diversity in tax base required to be considered for municipal incorporation. As well, I recognize that the vision of North Shuswap residents, as expressed in the Official Community Plan, is to remain a predominantly rural area with value placed on the natural environment and sustainable, well-considered development.

Given these factors, it would not be appropriate for me to recommend pursuing an incorporation process at this time.”

They would prefer that we attempt to work with the CSRD to resolve our issues with their governance structure. The Ministry would be willing to consider contributing to a community issues assessment as long as we agree to no pursue incorporation at this time.

Read the Ministry response letter

CSRD Requests Study

A letter has been written to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing saying that “the Board express its support in principle for a funding request for a Governance Study in Electoral Area F”. This was sent shortly after CSRD staff met with Minister Robinson and her staff at the Union of BC Municipalities conference in early October. The letter went on to request a contribution of $20,000 from the ministry to be matched by $20,000 from the CSRD to begin a study to help in “identifying community needs and issues, and an excellent method of involving a public consultation process to obtain perspectives from the Area F community.”

We look forward to a response from the Ministry.

View the letter.

Letters of Support Received – Still need more

Thanks to all who have provided letters outlining your interest in the Incorporation Study. In a nutshell, 97.4% of the letters we received are in favour of going ahead with the study. There were many reasons given with the top 3 being local control and planning, lack of development & opportunities, our tax dollars should stay local.

There were a few letters in opposition as well, 2.6%. It looks like the big concern here is concern about tax increases, lack of information, and the concern that those working in favour of the study are just in it for themselves.

We have posted a statistical summary of the letters received, on our website. If you wish to see the letters themselves, please email us.

We can still use more, and whether you’re for or against the study, your input is valuable. Here is a blank letter that you could use.

Response from MLA Kyllo

Back in early February we had a meeting with Greg Kyllo where we discussed our situation, expressed our concerns and provided him with a pile of letters of support for the Incorporation Study. The response we received on March 7 follows:

Hi Jeff,
MLA Kyllo has gathered the following information for you with respect to Community Governance, and has asked me to forward to you and your group.
Thanks!
Holly

There are several varieties of study that might be considered by a rural community that is evolving and looking for specific governance and service outcomes. While one of those is an incorporation study, in general this is reserved for communities that have at least 1,000 permanent residents, a diverse property tax base (including a mix of residential, business and industry), and a robust network of local public services (e.g. a single public water system, compact road network, parks and schools, etc.) and have the support of both their electoral area director and the regional district Board. For many rural communities, exploring issues and options within the regional district/electoral area framework may be more timely and less expensive to implement. Given the focus on water and wastewater systems and facilitating development, this may be the case for Scotch Creek.

Here is the link to the document left with you, Managing Changes in Local Government Structure, which outlines the principles of local government restructures in the Province of British Columbia. The guide does a good job of setting context for changes to local government, as it provides insight into the issues and opportunities that may be facing a community as well as describing the governance variations available within the local government system to address different local circumstances.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District Board of Directors have responded to the request from the representatives from Scotch Creek. The Electoral Area Director and staff are willing to meet with community representatives. Ministry staff are here to support that conversation, in particular Ms. Karen Lynch is an experienced senior analyst with the program and has responsibility for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District; she can be reached at 778 698-3229 or via email Karen.Lynch@gov.bc.ca.

INCORPORATION STUDY Q&A

INCORPORATION STUDY.

What does that mean? What we are working towards right now is a study to determine if there is an opportunity for some area, any area, of the North Shuswap to incorporate as an independent municipality (a village). What we need is a provincially funded study that will look at determine what is truly possible, what services and activities an incorporated area would handle. The study will also tell us and what if any costs will be involved. A private study has already been done which shows that Scotch Creek, as the Primary Settlement Area of the North Shuswap, could be a viable incorporated municipality based on the current tax rates.

Incorporation… What is it? Incorporation means that a defined area, say Scotch Creek, becomes it’s own municipality. It then has the ability to plan for the future with decisions made locally by a group of people elected from the community. These people would come from our area, know our area, know the people of the area, and answer to the people of the area every day.

If we say we’re in favour of this, will we become incorporated? No. This is a study only. What we need right now is your support to lobby the province to fund the study of Scotch Creek. Without the information the study will provide, we’ll never know if we can do it ourselves. If the provincial study finds that Scotch Creek could become a village, then there will be a referendum of all those involved to vote YAY or NAY to incorporation.

Can other areas of the North Shuswap become incorporated? That is possible and we will be discussing this with the Ministry. They may not be included in this first study as Scotch Creek is the Primary Settlement Area as designated in our Official Community Plan, but truly, we are interested in looking at all areas of the NS.

What are the benefits of incorporation? The two main benefits are local planning and control, and increased access to provincial and federal grants for infrastructure.

What kind of plans and decisions would we be able to make? Virtually anything. From what changes we want in the parks, to where to put water and sewer pipes. Typically what happens is that we would inherit the bylaws from the regional district and then adapt some, remove some, add what we wanted, and move on from there. Services like solid waste removal (Scotch Creek dump) would likely be contracted to the CSRD as they currently manage that service. Other things like road maintenance and snow clearing would be looked at individually and decisions would be made as to what is in our best interests. The study identifies the costs and benefits for all the local services. There is a transition period between the Regional District running things, to when we would take things over.

What kinds of grants would we be eligible for? Infrastructure is the main area where the North Shuswap needs help. Scotch Creek currently has two waste water treatment plants that drain into the lake. There is no significant industry, no development, no growth, concerns about septic fields and drinking water. So the first goals would be to get some liquid waste treatment online, and a community water system in place.

So if this study happens, will we then be incorporated? No. The study is just the study. It will tell us what is possible. IF the study suggests we’re viable then ultimately the question of whether to incorporate will be put to the people in those areas with a referendum. The people get to choose whether to move ahead with incorporation or not.

How do we get this study done? The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development decides whether to fund the study. They take their cues from the CSRD. Our initial request to the CSRD for support for the study was turned down. We will be meeting with them shortly to further discuss their support. We are also in direct talks with the Ministry, our provincial MLA Greg Kyllo, and our federal MP Mel Arnold.

How can I help? You can write a note of support. It doesn’t have to be long, just a quick note to say you are in favour of the Incorporation Study for Scotch Creek. Even if you’re not in favour, send along a note. Give a couple of reasons and finish the note with your name and contact information. You can send it via email to Info@ScotchCreekBC.ca or drop it in the Kicker boxes in Ross Creek Store, Sunnyside Supermarket, SuperValu, Peoples Drugs or Century 21.

Where can I get more information or get involved? Our new website should be up by the time you read this. Check www.ScotchCreekBC.ca

Incorporation study denied – SA Observer

CSRD directors will not be seeking a formal governance study for the incorporation of Scotch Creek. / CSRD PHOTO

Scotch Creek is to remain unincorporated for the time being.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors will not be asking the province to approve a formal governance study for Scotch Creek.

In May 2016, the board considered a letter the North Shuswap Incorporation Feasibility Study Group (NSIFS), requesting support in researching information to better understand opportunities for local governance and the feasibility of incorporation.

Directors also perused a TRUE Consulting proposal and, while they did not formally endorse the proposed study, the board did agree to staff time to assist the consulting team with information gathering.

Undeterred, the Incorporation Feasibility Study Group proceeded with, and paid for a TRUE Consulting report, which was completed in 2016.

In a January 2017 letter to the board, NSIFS chair Jeff Tarry indicated there is a desire for improvements in local services, sewer and water services for the primary settlement area, both for quality of drinking water and ability to expand settlement.

The letter also states the community wants greater control over decisions that affect their area currently made by directors who live more than 250 kilometres away and “who have never likely visited our area.”

Tarry was in attendance at the Jan. 19 board meeting in case the chair authorized directors to ask questions or clarify any issues.

CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton reviewed the report and Tarry’s request, and recommended the board turn down the NSIFS request for several reasons: The report fails to provide sufficient evidence that incorporation of Scotch Creek is feasible or realistic, provides no evidence the North Shuswap’s aspirations and development objectives cannot be achieved through the regional district.

“The study report fails to adequately explain why a change in local governance is needed or should be considered,” he said. “And, in light of other governance study initiatives the CSRD is currently undertaking, the CSRD does not have the resources or capacity to embark on another governance review at this time.”

Directors agreed, but did approve Hamilton’s suggestion that the Area F director and CSRD staff meet with NSIFS reps to better understand why they want to incorporate.

Letters of Support needed

We need your help.

In order to show the various ministries and agencies that the North Shuswap population is serious about having this study done, we need letters of support. Just below you’ll find links to general information about the study as well as a template letter of support. You can print that out, fill it out with your own reasons why, or why not, you are supportive of the Incorporation Study.

Please drop them off at any of the Kicker boxes at Ross Creek Store, Sunnyside Supermarket, SuperValu, Peoples Drugs or Century 21.

Notes on Incorporation

Local Incorporation Question & Answers

Blank Letter of Support