Building on the experience of establishing the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) led the initiative to establish a conservation fund in the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK).
Because KCP had polled widely in the Kootenays prior to the establishment of the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, there was some information already available to support the Central Kootenay process. In addition to widespread polling, the leadership team held six focus groups in 2013. As was the case with the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, this research helped to determine the RDCK fund’s service area, as well as offering insight into residents’ values, priorities, and willingness to pay for a conservation fund service.
The RDCK established the Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund after a successful vote in November 2014, which was held in conjunction with the local election in electoral areas A, D, and E. The financing mechanism is a parcel tax of $15 per parcel per year, which is applied to all parcels (residential, industrial, commercial) in the service area.
As participating communities are located on Kootenay Lake, water issues emerged as an important focus. The conservation fund’s terms of reference reflect this, listing aquatic systems and conservation of water, wildlife, and habitat as the fund themes.
From 2016 to 2020, the Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund approved 29 grants totalling nearly $400,000. This local investment has leveraged over three times that amount in external grants and in-kind support, not including a large conservation acquisition, which if included, raises the leveraged funding to 48 times additional funding.