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Turner holds SLRD chair, challenger takes vice-chair

Melamed suggests holding back on decisions

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The SLRD opened its new term with a meeting heavy on housekeeping.

John Turner was re-elected chair of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board of directors. As director for Electoral Area D, Turner represents Furry Creek, Britannia, Porteau Cove, Upper Squamish, Upper Cheakamus, Ring Creek, and Pinecrest/Black Tusk Village. At the new board’s inaugural meeting on Dec. 16, Turner’s position as chair was challenged by Russ Oakley. Oakley, three-term director for Electoral Area A, represents Gold Bridge, Bralorne and area.

While Oakley did not succeed in his bid to chair the board, he was elected to the position of vice-chair.

While the majority of the board members were retuning to the table, there were some new faces, most notably Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy and Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed.

Melamed suggested several times throughout the meeting that issues be tabled until everyone was brought up to speed on what was going on. He also pointed out that the new directors had yet to receive training for their positions and were unfamiliar with the SLRD’s process and protocol.

Concerns such as actively lobbying to reinstate access to Meager Hot Springs, an area that has been inaccessible since the flood of 2003 washed out the bridge, were handily approved by the committee.

However, issues of a more contentious nature, such as supporting Electoral Area C for first priority for boundary expansion, generated debate and resulted in the matter being tabled pending more information. Likewise, how to proceed with talks concerning the proposed Ashlu River independent power plant (IPP), resulted in a lengthy discussion about strategy in terms of dealing with the provincial government.

At the board’s request a letter from Neil Banera, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (MEMPR) director of IPP policy and operations was distributed to the board. This was contrary to SLRD administrator Paul Edgington’s recommendation that the MEMPR correspondence be accompanied by staff analysis.

On a more active note, Electoral Area C director Susie Gimse reported that the first joint meeting between the SLRD and the Village of Pemberton council was "great". Topping the list on that agenda was starting the process to build the new community centre.

The facility, endorsed by the VOP and Area C electorate in a referendum last month, allows for the borrowing of up to $6.7 million to build the community centre. The first phase of the project will be underway shortly with a call going out for proposals from project managers.

"I expect we will move along as quickly as possible," said Gimse.

Committee appointments for the new board remain at the discussion level and will likely be announced at the next meeting.

Board meetings are held at 1350 Aster St. in Pemberton and are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 23, 2006.

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