Knodel gets point across at UBCM

Knodel gets point across at UBCM

Overall, the tax increase for Area C residents will not be large if their assessments have not increased dramatically, says regional director Rick Knodel. (File photo)

Area C director Rick Knodel says it’s not for him to decide if he received good value by attending the recent Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver.

That will be left up to the public, whose voice was heard on several topics that he spoke to government ministers about recently.

Knodel brought the following issues to the table: Gas tax funding for small catchment fire departments; creek/stream and culvert replacement and the need to change from permitting to regulatory system; funding for flood mitigation (Park Rill study plan); involving  RDOS directors in further discussions on the national park reserve; non-local traffic on narrow agricultural roads; and the Gallagher Lake Siphon repair project.

“Like (Oliver) Mayor Johansen, I feel that even with as much push as possible from the provincial government, nothing will happen (on the siphon) without a change in federal government. We just do not seem to be important to the current administration in this riding.”

Park Rill flood mitigation funding

Knodel said the province set up a disaster mitigation study, but the focus was on forest floor fuel reduction problems caused by venting index regulations.

“Little if anything on flood mitigation was included in this.”

But the director said he will follow up on this issue.

Involving area directors in further national park discussions

Knodel said the ministry is now aware that the federal government failed in recognizing local governments in these talks.

“The indication was that they would support having the four affected local directors meaningfully involved in future discussions.”

Gas tax funding for small fire departments

Knodel said the current regulations do not allow the use of gas tax monies for this purpose. (The use of these funds is set and controlled by the federal government.) But he noted that strong support to include these fire departments will come from both the provincial government and the official opposition.

Creek, stream and culvert maintenance

The director said landowners who are unfortunate enough to have a creek and/or stream cross their property suffer personal damage during flood events and have the potential for legal liability if the creek is not maintained (should flooding cause damage elsewhere).

Knodel pointed to the current permitting system that is onerous, lengthy and filled with non-essential details and conditions that add tremendous costs, delays and future liabilities to projects that need to be done in a timely manner.

As many of these creeks and streams do not normally run year-round or sometimes for years at a time, the environmental studies being demanded are abstract if not totally unnecessary, he said.

“While I agree strongly with environmental protection, it cannot come at the expense, safety or protection of the residents and their private property.”

Knodel said the same applies to the replacement of culverts removed during abnormal flood events to prevent plugging and overflowing.

He cited one example where the cost to replace a culvert that would allow one farmer to access his farmland was in excess of $20,000, and to date the permit has still not been granted.

“I have requested that these issues be removed from permitting requirement and made regulatory instead.”

Non-local traffic on agricultural roads

Knodel said the RDOS was not able to get a meeting with the Ministry of Transportation on any issue in the area, including this one.

“All of the issues were safety related which makes this dismissal so disturbing to me.”

Knodel wants warning and behavioural signage on these roads to protect cyclists and farmers’ interests.

“I did speak to some other directors on the topic and was informed that many are having issue with sport bicycles.”

He said the problems are caused by a small few who behave with a sense of entitlement in that the rules of the road don’t apply to them.