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Salmo Valley library service may expand boundaries

The Salmo Valley library service may add to its tax base if a counterpetition process is approved this year.

Regional district director Hans Cunningham, who represents the rural areas around Salmo, says a few parts of his region don’t pay into the service, although he’s not sure why.

“It’s very strange,” he says. “It was a weird map when it was drawn, but because it only involved a few families, we’ve never bothered to change it.”

Thirty-seven families, to be exact, he says. The excluded areas are toward Fruitvale, toward Nelson, and toward the Kootenay Pass.

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Although the exact figures are still being determined, Cunningham says bringing those areas into the service will mean a boost for the library while reducing rates per household.

“Industry such as the gas pipeline would be paying into the service,” he says. “We’ll [each] end up paying less but getting more.”

Cunningham says modern libraries are more costly to operate, for in addition to buying books, they offer many electronic services.

“The average library nowadays offers so many things it’s just amazing. That costs money, even though a lot of people there are volunteers. People want these services, so how are they going to be paid for? … This seems like a good thing. We get everybody in, the cost goes down for everybody and the services are improved.”

Cunningham says the rewritten bylaw would also see funding set by rate rather than capped at a specific amount, so the money raised each year will rise with the tax base.

Under the counterpetition process, the service expansion will proceed unless 10 per cent of residents — both those already in the service and those outside it — sign their names against.

Dates for the process to begin have not been established, but Cunningham says he hopes it will be wrapped up by fall so that it can be in place for the 2023 budget.

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