Re: “Lillooet fights for SLRD provincial funds,” Chief, Dec. 13.
It is interesting that Lillooet is asking for a bigger slice of the Hydro grant. I think the question that must be answered first is what has led them to this state of financial ruin. What makes them so different from other municipalities? Even the electoral areas around them have a special assessment to pay for things.
The Hydro grant is paid to areas or municipalities because it is deemed fair by the provincial government that there should be some compensation for tax-exempt status. e.g. — BCR Lands in Squamish.
Electoral Areas A, B and D are all affected by hydro projects in their areas and are awarded grants because of these facilities. However, the grants do not go into the coffers of the areas affected but into the SLRD’s operating funds. The grants municipalities get for these same type of facilities go directly into the municipalities’ operating budgets, not shared with the SLRD. Two different sets of rules.
The problem for Area A is that they are supposed to receive a grant of $700,000-plus but get only $45,000 of that for use in their area. The rest goes into SLRD coffers.
Do we deserve all the grants to be spent in our area? No, we must pay a fair share of regional expenses.
In Area A, the school can barely stay open, the gas station has closed, the hotel is probably hanging on by a shoestring, there is great void of suitable tradespeople (the ones that are there could certainly use more work). Bralorne has these facilities but I am sure it is a tough go for them to exist as well. What is the cause of this? I feel that it is the road access. We have three roads to travel in Area A: Road 40 that has rocks falling on a continual basis, the Highline, which is best described as a scenic goat path (one lane and rocks falling on it also) and the Hurley, which has seen the its maintenance steadily decline, to the point where even local people choose another route, often two hours longer.
We need more from the grant, we need improvement in the access to our area, and we need the full weight of the SLRD to realize these improvements, not just our area rep doing their best but being ignored.
We all benefit from regional governance. The municipalities have a say in what happens outside their boundaries. The areas have the benefit of municipal experience. I think if you look at the mission statement of the SLRD, it is time to live up to what they say: “To enhance the quality of life of constituents through the facilitation of regional and community services for the benefit of present and future generations.”