The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) has adopted its 2017-2021 financial plan bylaw.
Highlighted in the budget is a significant renovation to the SLRD administration building on Aster Street in Pemberton, to be paid for via a Municipal Finance Authority loan of up to $1 million over 15 years.
The SLRD will seek the approval of electors for the renovation through an Alternative Approval Process (AAP).
The AAP will begin once the SLRD has approval from the Inspector of Municipalities, which could take anywhere from four to 12 weeks. Ads notifying electors must be run in local newspapers for two consecutive weeks before it starts.
If 10 per cent or more of the SLRD's 36,118 electors submit response forms in opposition, the SLRD would not be able to proceed without holding a referendum.
"It is an extremely old building," said SLRD chair Jack Crompton, noting that at one time the board was considering constructing a brand-new building, which was expected to cost up to $5 million.
"Instead we've decided to renovate the existing with a focus on functionality and a healthy work environment."
The goal is that the renovations will extend the life of the building by 15 years.
The SLRD budget — made up of 87 different cost centres across the vast district — are different from those seen in its member municipalities.
"Where a municipality would come up with a single tax rate, regional districts tax for each of those cost centres," Crompton said.
"So the Bralorne sewer collects its own revenue, which is distinct from the Furry Creek roads budget."
The budget is prioritized on a centre-by-centre basis. One constant in this year's budget planning has been a focus on fire prevention.
"In most jurisdictions that I'm aware of in B.C., fire has become an incredibly important line item," Crompton said. "The SLRD is no different."
There were just over 6,200 people living in the SLRD's four electoral areas according to the 2011 census. Electors are encouraged to approach their area directors with any comments or concerns www.slrd.bc.ca/about-us/board-staff-directories/slrd-board.
"I think the majority of the feedback I hear is residents want their local governments to be careful with their money," Crompton said.
"That's been our focus: fiscal responsibility and ensuring that peoples' taxes are well spent."
AREA C FIRE SERVICES AGREEMENT EXTENDED
The Fire Services Agreement between the Village of Pemberton and the SLRD's Area C was recently extended until March 31 to allow more time to finalize a long-term agreement.
Under the agreement, Pemberton Fire Rescue provides fire services to Area C residents in the neighbourhoods of Pemberton Fringe (surrounding the Village of Pemberton), the Heights (Ivey Lake, Reid Road, Walkerville, Owl Ridge and the surrounding area) and on Pemberton Meadows Road.
The Village of Pemberton (VOP) has been offering fire services to those areas since 2008.
"It's an extremely complicated agreement to dig through, and staff on both the VOP and the SLRD have been diligent, and (a long term agreement) will happen for sure," Crompton said.
"We need to ensure that the services that residents receive are well considered, are well designed, and collaborative between the communities that offer them."