SIR program budget won’t further impact taxpayers or orchardists

Neither property taxpayers nor orchardists will be asked to pay more for the innovative Sterile Insect Release program next year.

Neither property taxpayers nor orchardists will be asked to pay more for the innovative Sterile Insect Release program next year.

The SIR board approved in principle the $3 million budget for 2011 at its last regular meeting of the year Wednesday.

Not only will the program continue to operate without a budget increase, there was a surplus of $193,080 from the current year.

Board chairman Kevin Flynn congratulated staff on holding the line and noted this is the third year with no increase in the property tax requisition from the four regional districts that participate in the program as well as no increase in either the parcel tax rate for growers, or the land tax that is based on acreage.

The SIR program provides area-wide control of the devastating non-native codling moth, which infests apples, pears and crabapples in its larval stage, rendering them unfit for market.

The program involves the release of irradiated (sterile) moths in orchards to mate ineffectively with wild moths and prevent the moth from continuing its life cycle.

The orchard parcel tax is $139.26.

One of the issues board members expressed concern about is that ICBC has cracked down on the use of ATVs—which staff use to monitor codling moth populations in orchards—on public roads between orchards.

Instead staff now must trailer or truck the ATVs from one orchard to another, which is going to have an economic impact on the program because of the extra staff time that will be required to load and unload ATVs, said executive director Cara McCurrach.

Board members also learned it may not cost as much as estimated to replace the aging gamma cell used to irradiate moths at the SIR facility in the south Okanagan.

Instead of $1.5 million, J.L. Shepherd and Associates can provide a self-contained unit for about $600,000.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com