The Peace River Regional District has a deferred a recommendation to enter into a use, occupancy, and funding agreement with the Kelly Lake Community Centre Society, and will address at their October 26, 2023 meeting.
At their September 14, 2023 board meeting, PRRD directors expressed concerns they’ve heard the society lacks local representation from the Kelly Lake community, with members from outside the community making up the society’s board.
Tumbler Ridge Mayor Darryl Krakowka said he was under the impression that the society’s board members are from Beaver Lodge, Grande Prairie, and Hythe, when it was expected they would be from the communities of Kelly Lake Cree Nation, Kelly Lake Indian Band, and the Kelly Lake Metis Society.
“My understanding is that they have all representation from each group, that’s what the society is made up of ” said PRRD Chair Leonard Hiebert, noting he can’t verify Krakowka’s claims.
PRRD CAO Shawn Dahlen said the society Krakowka referred to is a different one.
“It was my understanding we did have local representation there - it was also my understanding that everyone has had access,” he said.
Chetwynd Mayor Allen Courtoreille said he’s heard similar concerns to Krakowka's.
“I’ve heard the same thing as director Krakowka has mentioned, so maybe we need to be able to have a look at this again, or make sure that we are in a position where we’re not being brought back to this table on saying ‘you guys did the wrong thing again’ - all information needs to be out there,” said Courtoreille.
“It is quite concerning to myself, if we have a building that the PRRD is going to give to a society that doesn’t represent all the people there,” he added.
Hiebert clarified that the PRRD is not giving the building to the society outright, they would be operating it on behalf of the regional district.
Pouce Coupe Mayor Danielle Veach said she’s heard the same things as Krakowka and Courtoreille.
“Have we received anything from them, from the community stating that they’ve brought it forward to community members and have met with them regarding this agreement or is this something that has been done between the two boards?” she asked.
Dahlen said the PRRD has provided opportunities to ensure the community centre has been all inclusive, but noted there’s no requirements for the society to be local.
“I think it’s an opportunity for us to be able to reach out to the community to ensure that whoever takes over this contract as a society to operate the regional district facility that it is all inclusive,” added Dahlen.
Hiebert is the PRRD liaison for the Kelly Lake community, and proposed deferring the agreement recommendation until local representation is confirmed.
“I know that they have representation from each member or from all the groups on the society, I just can’t verify that they’re actually from the community,” said Hiebert.
A service area was established in 2006 by the PRRD to provide an annual financial contribution to assist with the maintenance and operational expenses of the facility, and the new agreement would have been for a five-year period.
The agreement stipulates the centre can be used for recreational, cultural and educational programs, activities and services for the Kelly Lake Community, and that it may be rented out for private or community gatherings.
The society would be required to provide the PRRD an annual budget with an operating grant request, financial statements, proof of liability insurance, and annual report outlining maintenance, summary of events, improvements, and health permits.
Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative. Have a story idea or opinion? Email email@example.com
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alaska Highway News