On November 15, 2008, electors from the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Electoral Areas G and F, the District of Invermere, the Village of Radium Hot Springs and the Village of Canal Flats voted to establish the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF).

The Service Establishment Bylaw was subsequently adopted by the RDEK Board of Directors and under this bylaw from 2009-2018 property owners in the participating areas pay a parcel tax of $20 per parcel per year towards a dedicated fund for conservation projects in the service area. Since its inception, the CVLCF has invested in 44 securement and stewardship conservation projects resulting in direct financial contributions of over $1,500,000 which has helped leverage over $5,000,000 in additional investments toward these projects.

Gerry Wilkie, who sits as an Area Director for the Regional District of East Kootenay’s Electoral Area G, postulates that the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund has made a significant contribution to the Columbia Valley’s quality of life. “While many of these projects are relatively modest in scope, cumulatively the Local Conservation Fund is doing what it was designed to do. It is making a significant contribution to our quality of life by providing the funding and opportunity for non-governmental organizations to enhance and conserve our local land base and biophysical environment,” he said, adding taxpayer money is being closely monitored by elected officials. He also stated he’d like to see the program copied elsewhere in the region.

“The KCP, which is a partnership of about 70 conservation, industry and government organizations from across the Kootenays, administers and adjudicates the projects. However, the Board of Directors of the RDEK makes the final decision on projects and their funding, thereby providing direct representation and responsibility to the taxpayers of the Columbia Valley. The Local Conservation Fund is an important, well-managed initiative. I certainly would like to see the fund maintained well into the future and expanded throughout the RDEK,” Wilkie said.

Wilkie is also involved in the widely acclaimed Northern Leopard Frog Re-introduction Project, which has received funding from the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund. To find out more about this project, you can click here.