Municipality repeating approval process for long-term borrowing

After a mix up with the notification period, Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) is redoing the alternate approval process (AAP) for long-term borrowing to fund core water infrastructure projects.

Long-term borrowing over five years requires electoral consent through a referendum or APP. In September 2021, SPMRM chose to proceed with an AAP to approve borrowing of up to $7.6 million. The municipality could adopt the Loan Authorization Bylaw as long as it received less than 141 opposition forms (10 per cent of eligible voters).

The municipality was required to send notice to all electors 30 days prior to the deadline to submit an opposition form. SPMRM sent out notice on Sept. 8, 2021 with a deadline of Oct. 8, 2021.

Having only received seven valid opposition forms, SPMRM adopted the bylaw. However, they were later denied approval from the province because the notification period was considered insufficient. 

Shane Bourke, SPMRM’s chief administrative officer, explained the province does not count the mail-out date or the deadline as part of the 30 days, meaning SPMRM was one day short for the required notification period.

“We did feel it was important to make sure that we were fully transparent and following the letter of requirements,” Bourke said. “We decided the best approach was to restart the whole process to ensure that we’d hit that 30 day requirement.”

The municipality is now accepting opposition forms again and must receive less than 138 responses to move forward. Bourke said the difference this year is the maximum borrowing amount has been lowered from $7.6 million to $4.97 million because staff aren’t requesting funds for the cost of the entire project.

“We decided that we would only be requesting for portions of projects that we would be proceeding with,” Bourke said. “There are some projects that we won’t proceed with unless we receive support from other levels of government.”

Bourke said redoing this process has not resulted in delays for the water infrastructure projects and the costs are minor. The municipality won’t be able to receive the funds until the fall, but can apply for temporary borrowing in the meantime. 

Notification to all eligible electors has been sent out as of March 9, and the deadline for submitting an opposition form is April 13, 2022. A virtual public information session will be held prior to the deadline.

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