Smithers opts back into RDBN planning

The Town of Smithers once again has a say in planning issues in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

The Town of Smithers once again has a say in planning issues in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

During their regular meeting Jan. 8, council approved a motion to re-join the Electoral Area Planning Service, after opting out in 2012.

The cost to take part in the process is based on two-thirds of the town’s assessment, which means Smithers, the municipality with the highest population in the RDBN, pays the largest share.

Smithers’ share for the coming year is $23,000.

Joining the service adds about $2.70 per $100,000 of assessed home value for Smithers taxpayers.

RDBN director of planning Jason Llewellyn made the case for the town to re-join the service.

“I think it’s important for Smithers and other municipalities to be a part of the planning process because rural planning issues and the manner in which they are dealt with can have an impact on municipalities,” Llewellyn said.

“This creates the need for a close and effective working relationship.

“The town’s participation in the service facilitates that.”

Smithers opted out of the service last year as a cost-saving measure, but ultimately the decision came down to an issue of fairness, Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach said, as the planning function takes place regardless of whether the Town is involved or not.

“I think what council recognized is development occurs right outside our boundaries and we should have a say in that development,” he said.

“It’s really about a fair approach to the cost of planning in the whole region.

“Things that happen outside the town affect people inside the town and now we have a say in those issues.”

The District of Vanderhoof also decided not to take part in the service in 2012 and have no immediate plans to rejoin for 2013, Joe Ukryn, Chief Administrative Officer, said.

“For the cost, we didn’t feel we were getting anything for it,” Ukryn said.