Council decides on water quality funds

The City of Salmon Arm plans to double its financial contribution to protecting water quality in Shuswap Lake.

Alan Harrison, City Councillor

Alan Harrison, City Councillor

The City of Salmon Arm plans to double its contribution to protecting water quality in Shuswap Lake.

At the Tuesday, May 19 meeting of the city’s planning and development services committee, concluding several weeks of discussions and meetings, a majority of council voted to contribute $40,000 each year for three years to the new Shuswap Watershed Council.

Following the demise of SLIPP, or the Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process, the Shuswap Watershed Council was formed. The city had been contributing $20,000 per year to SLIPP.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District Area C Director Paul Demenok has been championing the new body, visiting local and regional governments in the watershed to gather support and funding. He has promoted a parcel tax, stating a five-year term would be equivalent to a $5 cup of coffee per parcel served and would provide a more equitable funding formula than SLIPP for the electoral areas.

Salmon Arm chose to provide the same level of funding as $5 per parcel would, with its total of approximately 7,900 parcels. However, the funds will come 50 per cent from the city’s sewer and water utility and 50 per cent from general revenue. This would mean the approximate 1,200 rural properties not on the utility would still contribute.

The motion approved and presented by Coun. Alan Harrison also included a three-year rather than a five-year term. He said the three-year time frame would provide stability and allow the program to be reviewed then.

Regarding the parcel tax, city administrator Carl Bannister told council a parcel tax requires sending a letter to every property in the city, plus adding new properties each year. He estimated it would cost about $5,000.

Coun. Kevin Flynn noted that would be about 12 per cent of the actual contribution. Flynn, Mayor Nancy Cooper and Couns. Chad Eliason and Louise Wallace Richmond supported Harrison’s motion.

Wallace Richmond noted protecting water quality is not just about money, it’s about intention – and residents can help

“We can’t buy our way out of this.”

Coun. Ken Jamieson was absent and Coun. Tim Lavery voted against the plan.

Lavery said he supports a funding formula rather than a lump sum, noting he doesn’t like the parcel tax because it’s regressive – but said other members of the CSRD seem to be favouring it.

He said he would, however, support a lump sum payment of $50,000 or $51,000, which would more closely reflect a recently revised number per parcel that had been distributed.

Salmon Arm Observer