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RDCK strikes again

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
September 11th, 2009

Area J director for the RDCK Gord Zaitsoff said today, in an open meeting of the RDCK general affairs committee, that The Castlegar Source is so pro-City of Castlegar that it doesn’t care about anyone else.

I can see where he’d want to attack us, given that The Source has, twice now, condemned his behaviour. But I think it’s worth pointing out that we did so because we’re pro-resident, not pro-city. In fact I have, personally, attacked city initiatives and decisions … I even came out in opposition to the city’s decision not to pay the regional requisition in the first place.

I support that which protects our residents and condemn that which hurts them – my question now has to be, why doesn’t Zaitsoff do likewise?

He told Mountain FM today that job losses at the Complex were a real danger, not an idle threat, should the city not pony up the $375,000 regional requisition that remains unpaid by Celgar.

I don’t think anyone believed they were idle threats, or posturing – what I can’t help but wonder is why Zaitsoff thinks that’s a good thing, or feels he’s defending the RDCK board by making that point.

It’s better to actually rob hardworking employees of their security; to take jobs away from their own loyal, dedicated civil servants, than to merely threaten to do so?


Seriously?

Especially when the reserve funds available to the rec commission render such threats, and such subsequent action, utterly unneccesary?

And Zaitsoff seems to think the fact that the RDCK was probably going to go ahead with damaging the lives of innocent employees anyway is a good thing?

Hello?

And it doesn’t end there … apparently the reserves, paired with cutting staff and services, wasn’t enough to serve what seems to be a vendetta on the RDCK’s part.

I got a copy of resolutions put forward for today’s general affairs committee meeting in Nelson, during which the RDCK board intended to find ways to recover the $375,000 if Castlegar council continued to refuse payment.

I was stunned – ideas being put forth included penalizing everyone from transit riders to city officials, and nowhere did I see any mention whatsoever of the reserve funds.

They were suggesting to refuse both remuneration and expense payments for the Castlegar RDCK director and alternate director – neither of whom would, it was proposed, be allowed to attend conferences or conventions on behalf of the RDCK until the bill was paid in full.

How about the “Castlegar delinquency surcharge” of $2 per able-bodied rider to be levied on all transit trips originating within Castlegar city limits? So, you’re from Trail and had nothing to do with any of this, but you need to take the bus back to work after visiting your mom in Castlegar?

Too bad. The RDCK wants theirs, so it’s now your problem.

You say that for B.C. Transit to keep or enhance transit service in the area means ridership needs to go up, not down? And that a $2 surcharge will hamper the entire region’s bid for better or even just continued service?

Too bad. The RDCK’s vengeance is, apparently, more important (although, to their credit, the RDCK administration pointed out this plan could cause difficulties with B.C. Transit and thus deferred the proposed resolution).

Here’s another fun idea for you – another proposal outlined a Castlegar delinquency surcharge to be applied to the regional district’s acceptance of any municipal solid waste and/or recyclables originating within Castlegar city limits. So now we pay extra or wade in heaps of our own refuse? What on earth kind of plan is that to inflict on neighbours when there are other choices ready to hand?

All this to recoup money – but they were, according to their own agenda, willing to discuss parting with enough cash to send a mail-out to all ratepayers and residents within city limits explaining why we’re getting kicked in the teeth like this. I wonder how much that mail-out might cost?

And I wonder if it would’ve included a rationale as to why they never even considered using the rec commission’s ample reserves to cover the shortfall, as per the recommendation of the commission itself – particularly since roughly 70 per cent of rec commission funding (therefore, 70 per cent of that reserve amount) comes from Castlegar taxpayers.

Which brings up an interesting question – if 70 per cent of that money is from Castlegar, why isn’t Castlegar making the decision about whether or not to use it?

Why is the decision to not use it, then to practically declare war upon the citizens of Castlegar instead, being left to directors from Creston, and Kaslo, and Nakusp, and …?

I really don’t get that. I’ve left messages with RDCK CAO Jim Gustafson and RDCK board chair Gary Wright to ask them just that, but they’re busy men whom I’ve so far given very little time to return my call, so in fairness I’ll put that question on the back burner for now – hopefully they can shed some light on what seems, to me, to be a truly bizarre governance process.

But my issue with how this is all being handled doesn’t end there.

Now that the city has absorbed the loss, having to pull the money from its own reserves to make the RDCK happy…guess what?

The RDCK is still not happy.

Now, according to Castlegar mayor (and RDCK director – once-chair of the general affairs committee, but now removed from the position over, I believe, this very issue) Lawrence Chernoff, the RDCK wants the late penalty, too – the 10-per-cent tithe due the city, by Celgar, for the company’s delinquent tax payment.

So we bear the $3.6-million burden alone, but we don’t even get the benefit of the late payment, should it ever be forthcoming. We’re talking about another $40,000 or so – it’s not pocket change.

I defy any one of the directors to show me where, in the Local Government Act, it says they’re entitled to make that demand … to suffer none of the risks or hardships of non-payment, but to take, for themselves, the few compensations offered those of us who must do so in their stead.

And now for the saddest part of all – I can’t help but wonder what new threats will be forthcoming to try to force Castlegar’s hand in this, if the city doesn’t comply.

 

Categories: Op/Ed

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