RDCK sustainability committee explained to Kaslo council

·2 min read

A senior administrator from the RDCK gave a presentation on a regional government committee that some councillors think Kaslo should leave. Sangita Sudan, the General Manager of Development & Community Sustainability Services, explained to council the workings of the Community Sustainable Living Advisory Committee’s (CSLAC) service at the Kaslo council meeting of June 28.

“The intention [of CSLAC] is to be able to do research, analysis, and seek out grant funding to support board initiatives that are supportive of community sustainability,” she told council.

CSLAC has spearheaded initiatives on water governance, wildfire mitigation, Aboriginal relations, food security, and even geothermal power. Sudan said the service has been praised for its innovation.

Proponents argue it is also important as a conduit for funding from government and private organizations for projects that that benefit the entire region.

But there’s mixed support for the committee, as some question its practical value to taxpayers. After Salmo and Area K both announced they wanted to leave the service earlier this year, some councillors on Kaslo council started considering the idea as well.

“The biggest question I have… there were nine communities that were members, there are only two going to be left now. So what do we get as one of the two left out of the nine, as a benefit that the others don’t get? So what is the benefit of being a paid member that the others don’t get?”

“All residents of Kaslo eat,” noted Sudan, giving the example of the committee’s work setting up a Central Food Policy Council. “That has enabled agriculture in the rural area around Kaslo where your farmers’ markets are now. Farmers have used that group as a resource to enable market gardens and such.”

Other initiatives are spread over large areas, like watershed governance, but also have local applications.

“Why should we pay into a service that everyone else gets anyway, and don’t pay into it?” said Van Mill, pressing the issue.

“It’s because it benefits everybody to work together to look at ways to make our communities more resilient. Some of the municipalities – for instance, Castlegar and Nelson – have their own sustainability departments… and we work with these departments collaboratively to bring programs to the region.”

While she didn’t want to talk about the issue of membership, Sudan reiterated the committee was of value to individual communities.

“Ultimately, whoever participates on the committee benefits, in that they help to evolve these great initiatives that end up being regional initiatives,” she said. “I can’t recall how much the Village of Kaslo pays into it, but that requisition is leveraged to do a lot of great work.”

Council received Sudan’s presentation as information.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

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