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UPDATED: Two RDCK areas to vote on joining conservation fund

Two more areas of the Regional District of Central Kootenay could join the Kootenay Lake local conservation fund if voters approve doing so in a referendum this fall.

The board has directed staff to prepare bylaws to add electoral areas F (Rural Nelson) and H (Slocan Valley) to the fund. Currently, Areas A (East Shore), D (Rural Kaslo), and E (Rural Nelson) are part of the program and last year $71,000 was distributed to eight projects.

The conservation fund provides grants to support conservation efforts focused on the conservation of water and aquatic systems, as well as wildlife and habitat, with the ultimate goal of supporting actions to provide a healthy physical environment for future generations.

The referendum is expected to be held in conjunction with local government elections this October. If residents approve  joining the conservation fund service, property owners will be charged an annual parcel tax of $15.

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“There is no doubt in my mind that the residents of Area F really want stewardship of the lake,” Area F director Tom Newell says. “It’s not a huge taxation implication. I’m confident it will go through.”

Newell says he is not sure why his area was not included in the previous referendum in 2014 that established the service. If adopted, the parcel tax would raise $33,930 from his area each year.

“My sense was that it was now time to go to referendum and see if people are willing to support it through taxation,” he says.

Newell says the fund is pooled, so projects are not necessarily area specific: “They’re more lake and landscape level impacts.” That means that Area F may have benefited from projects carried out in the past thanks to the fund, even though it does not pay into it.

Each year, a three-member panel recommends projects to the RDCK for funding approval.

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