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 RDCK Local Conservation Fund (referred to as the Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund at the time) 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. Water issues emerged as an important focus in the area. The Local Conservation Fund’s terms of reference reflect this, listing aquatic systems and conservation of water, wildlife, and habitat as the fund themes.
In October 2022, residents of RDCK Area H voted by referendum to join the fund, expanding the service to the Slocan Valley. In 2023, KCP will be seeking Technical Review Committee members from the Slocan Valley, and applications will be open for projects in Area H in the fall of 2023.
From 2016 to 2022, the RDCK Local Conservation Fund approved 44 grants totalling $535,000. This local investment has leveraged over four times that amount in external grants and in-kind support, not including two conservation acquisitions, which if included, raises the leveraged funding to almost 40 times additional funding.