Power of the people — RDCK agrees to hand over vote to residents on issues

·3 min read

The will of the people will be sought in several ways this fall as the regional district attempts to solidify consent and assent of its voters on certain issues.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors approved assent voting — which means referendum — in conjunction with the local government election in October to determine whether Electoral Area H will join the RDCK’s Local Conservation Fund Service.

Through a partnership with Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP), local conservation fund services have been set up in electoral areas A, D and E.

In the Kootenay Conservation program market research survey it showed a “higher majority support” for the Local Conservation Fund in both areas H and F.

There are only three areas that are involved in the program — areas A, D and E — which distributed $71,000 to eight different projects. Area F was the only electoral area surrounding Kootenay Lake that was not a part of the fund.

According to the regional district website, the purpose of the local conservation fund service and the funds it generates is to provide local financial support for important projects that will contribute to the conservation of valuable natural areas; one step towards restoring and preserving a healthy environment.

The intent is to provide funding for conservation projects that are not the existing responsibility of the federal, provincial or local governments.

If approval of the electors is obtained in October, Electoral Area H will be a full participant in the Local Conservation Fund Service at a cost of $15 per parcel of land, to be collected annually.

Assent voting (or referendum) allows electors to vote on whether a proposal would move forward or not.

Assent of the electors is obtained if a majority of the votes counted are in favour of the bylaw or question. Assent voting is conducted under the rules that apply to local elections.

Assent or AAP

The regional district has chosen to use the alternative approval process for possible expansion of Recreation Commission No.10 — a portion of Electoral Area E service establishment

The RDCK board approved the bylaw change to Recreation Commission No. 10, which was obtained through the Alternative Approval Process, allowing the RDCK to increase the annual requisition limit to provide recreational programming to Balfour, Harrop and Procter.

The alternative approval process is a form of approval that allows electors to indicate whether they are against a local government proposal moving forward.

The alternative approval process — formerly known as counter-petition — requires that 10 per cent or more of the eligible electors must sign and submit response forms in opposition to the proposed initiative to require the local government to obtain assent of the electors in order to proceed.

When this happens the issue is considered significant and the local government has two choices. They may proceed to assent voting within 80 days, or they may put the matter on hold and consider alternatives to the proposed action.

Source: Province of B.C.

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily