Big White chamber of commerce criticizes Kootenay Boundary regional district

File photo of the transfer station at Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, B.C. Google Maps

It appears a rift is growing between businesses at Big White Mountain Resort and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

Last week, the Big White Mountain Chamber of Commerce published a letter criticizing the regional district, saying businesses and residents feel very undervalued for the amount of taxes that they’re paying.

Sparking the letter was the regional district’s proposed changes to Big White’s waste transfer station.

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According to the chamber of commerce, the regional district wants to reduce the number of days that trash is collected, from seven days a week down to possibly three days a week.

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“There has been a history of concern from the community related to the value and effectiveness of services provided by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, along with questions about how tax dollars collected are being allocated,” the letter says.

The chamber of commerce also claims that having the transfer station open just three days a week “would be crippling” for many of Big White’s more than 100 businesses,

“The proposed changes to the transfer station have hit a nerve for two reasons,” chamber of commerce president Richard Berrie said in the letter.

“The first concern is that there appears to be a fundamental lack of understanding by the RDKB about our community and local economy. This is coupled with a recent engagement process that has left many community and business members feeling unheard.”

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The letter also claims that the transfer station is in disrepair for lengthy periods of time.

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“This has been extremely frustrating and has resulted in other issues, one of which was a bear accessing the garbage in the transfer station last year,” the letter reads.

“The recent solution provided by the RDKB has focused on making the facility a manned station with different tax-increase options proposed based on hours of service.

“Big White represents a significant tax base for the RDKB, yet the services we are provided for those funds seem wildly disproportionate. To even suggest a tax increase for appropriate waste management services when we are already underserviced is ridiculous.

“What we want are straight forward answers and meaningful dialogue.”

Global News reached out to the RDKB for comment. In return, the regional district sent an emailed statement.

It says the transfer station, which is unattended and is open 24 hours a day, “creates challenges with inappropriately dumped materials as well as maintaining a clean and tidy facility that balances fiscal responsibility, provides reasonable access and is environmentally sound.”

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The regional district says with ongoing vandalism, it’s impossible to operate the transfer station “in a reasonable and acceptable manner as an unattended facility.”

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It also says the regional district’s board of directors passed a resolution in September 2023 and that a transition will happen on July 1.

The RDKB said it also sent out surveys on Feb. 7 and Feb. 9 regarding options as to new, scheduled hours for the transfer station. Results will be presented at a public, town-hall meeting at Big White on March 6.

In related news, the North Westside area recently mulled the idea of leaving the Central Okanagan regional district for the North Okanagan regional district. The concept was brought up two years ago in a recommendation made in 2022.

In a nutshell, residents in North Westside felt they were being overlooked by the RDCO and would be better served by the RDNO.

If such a move were to take place, it would take provincial involvement via the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which would have to approve it. Not only that, but the move could take many months, if not years, to complete.

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Could the same happen with Big White, moving from Kootenay Boundary to the Central Okanagan?

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Global News has reached out to the Big White chamber of commerce for more information.

Global News posed that question to the RDKB but did not receive a response.

“The RDKB has been actively seeking, encouraging and receiving feedback from the community on a number of issues,” the regional district said in its emailed statement.

“The Area Director has been in contact with the Chamber of Commerce and has a meeting scheduled with the President of the Community Association on February 21, 2024.”

More information about that public meeting on March 6 is available online.


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