A broad discussion about transportation, transit, and greenhouse gas emissions galvanized directors at the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) meeting on Monday (Jan. 23), as they considered strategic planning priorities for 2012.
A portion of the region's entitlement to federal gas tax fund monies, a total of $1.89 million, can be spent on a project of the SLRD's choosing, so long as it keeps up with the aim of reducing greenhouse gases.
It must be applied for by September this year, and the district's chief administration officers (CAOs) met on Jan. 19 to discuss options for presentation to the board on Jan. 23, said Susie Gimse, chair of the SLRD and director for Area C.
She added that the use of the $1.89 million is meant to be agreed upon by all areas and municipalities in the SLRD.
"(There is) a lot of money on the table and we have to make sure we are in the same place," Gimse said.
Lynda Flynn, the SLRD's CAO, said during the meeting that the most popular use for the money, in terms of how her CAO peers throughout the SLRD responded, was the idea of a solid waste management plan, specifically hot composting at appropriate points like local landfills.
She said staff analysis came up with the figure of around $100,000 being available to develop this plan for each community if the plan is adopted.
Other popular options included growing and improving the trail system throughout the region, particularly the Sea to Sky Trail, and developing a video conferencing program that would be region wide.
In terms of ongoing transit priorities for the SLRD — and not related to the federal gas tax fund application — several options were discussed, with the priority for moving people around the SLRD changing from merely regional transit (ie. buses) to a wider selection of transport methods alongside bussing , such as carpooling, park-and-ride, and trails.
"We (had been) talking about connecting communities with buses: Vancouver-Squamish, Squamish-Whistler," Gimse said, adding that 45 regional district representatives requested a review of BC Transit in September by the provincial transportation minister, which is now underway.
"At this point and time there are some issues with transit that we are relying on the province to sort out," Gimse said.
"Let's say we imposed a fuel tax in the Sea to Sky region to cover transit, at the moment it would go to the B.C. government and not the local community share. This is something we've asked the province to look at."