On June 28, the community of Sun Peaks officially became the country’s first mountain resort municipality and the 161st municipality in British Columbia.
Sun Peaks’ first municipal council, composed of Mayor Al Raine, councillors Darcy Alexander, Mike Forster, Ines Popig and Mario Pozza, were sworn in by Justice Richard Blair before the community and dignitaries who attended the inaugural ceremony at the Delta Sun Peaks Resort.
The mayor was allotted an annual stipend of $10,000 and the four councillors a total of $24,000 but the council decided to donate these funds to each council member’s chosen charity. The mayor said he and the councillors have unanimously agreed upon this decision.
“I personally am going to donate my money to the new education society,” said Raine. “I’d like to support the community. The revenue is not so important to me.”
“The amount of work that this council will be doing is significant,” said Pozza, who’s splitting his donation to the local education society, health clinic and fire department. “The stipend, although much appreciated, is not the reason I ran for this position. I feel this amount would be better used in making our community a better place to live and the donation helps me in going towards that goal.”
During the inauguration, the council received two cheques from the government to assist the community in the transition: a $115,597 Small Community Grant cheque and a per capita cheque worth $59,400.
Justice Blair also inducted Wayne d’Easum as the acting chief administrative officer and Nicky Braithwaite as the acting financial officer.
In his acceptance speech, Raine envisioned a promising future for Sun Peaks with the leadership of council, the involvement of the community, and partnerships with First Nations. Raine exchanged gifts with Chief Felix Arnouse of the Little Shuswap Indian Band, Simpc’w First Nation Chief Keith Matthew and former Kamloops Indian Band chief Manny Jules.
He also left a dose of reality check. He reminded everyone to “Keep your expectations to a reasonable level. We cannot achieve our dreams overnight.”
Anne Haight, Sun Peaks Resort’s director of sales and marketing and an area resident, sees this change as a win-win situation.
“We’ll all work together,” said Haight of the separate mandates of the resort and council. “We can do what we do best and they can do what they do best.”
“At the end of the day, it’s all about making Sun Peaks the best place to be and as the first mountain resort municipality in the country, together we can achieve this. I’m like, let’s go!” she added.
Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar feels that this new phase would help forge a stronger bond between Sun Peaks and Kamloops.
“We’ll be working as partner municipalities in joint ventures. Right now, we’re working on the 2015 Canada Winter Games bid and while we’re working predominantly with the resort corporation, we have every intention of working closely with the mayor and council as well,” said Milobar.
A Canada Winter Games selection committee is set to visit Sun Peaks and Kamloops in August.
The council’s second meeting will be on Monday, July 19. As the council has yet to find an office space, the venue will be announced at a later date.
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