Residents of Cultus Lake are about to get more say in who is elected to the Cultus Lake Park Board.
It’s something lake residents and leaseholders have been actively lobbying for, appealing to the provincial government and the B.C. Ombudsperson for help in recent years.
Amendments to the Cultus Lake Park Act were introduced this week in the B.C. Legislature, proposing to cut the number of park board commissioners from seven down to five.
The shift in the power balance would also see Cultus residents electing three people to the park board, which is up from two. Chilliwack residents will only elect two people, which is down from five.
Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness supported Cultus area residents when they went public with their call for more accountability and better representation. He tabled the 926-name petition the residents collected last summer. It called for a smaller park board, that would be elected only by residents of Cultus.
The petition was spearheaded by Gary and Sue Lister, residents of Cultus.
The old voting structure of 5-2 created an “unfair situation,” they argued last summer when they were seeking support and signatures, since there were only two commissioners voted in by Cultus residents.
“Many people in Chilliwack don’t even realize they are electing a board that is separate from Chilliwack (in a municipal election), when they vote for the Cultus Lake Park Board,” Susan Lister told The Progress last July.
“There is a lack of awareness, and a lack of accountability.”
Throness agreed with the thrust of what the Cultus residents were calling for, but offered some amendments.
Because Chilliwack still retains a legal interest in the Park, the MLA felt it was appropriate that two commissioners still be elected by the voters of Chilliwack, down from the original five.
“I’m so pleased that our government has responded to the calls of residents and leaseholders of Cultus Lake to increase the accountability of the board to the people it serves,” said Throness in a press release.
The MLA said it will mean “better representation” for Cultus residents overall, with the power to elect three commissioners, which is up from two.
A streamlined board will reduce costs, and bring them more in line with similar-sized communities like Harrison Hot Springs and the District of Kent, said the release.
The bill could be passed and become law in time for the next election given the majority maintained by the BC Liberals, Throness added.