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General News · 4th August 2010
Noba Anderson
Supporting Our Community Halls

For all of our collective sanity, we need to find a way of being better with each other in our community process and communication. I want to find clarity about how to best proceed, and I want to do so kindly.

Since Bylaw 55 was defeated in February, there has been a WCC General Meeting, an SCCA Annual General Meeting, and a meeting that I as your elected representative hosted. I have received many letters, phone calls and had many in-person conversations with people about the issue. Based on the feedback from these many sources over many months, bylaw #75 has been drafted by the Regional District (see attached) for your feedback. The attached ‘Open Invitation to the Cortes Community’ to attend an ‘open space’ meeting is one way of seeking this input, input sought by formal resolution by the Strathcona Regional District’s Committee of the Whole. We passed the following resolution July 14th: THAT the Committee recommend that Bylaw No. 75 be given first and second readings and submitted for additional community consultation. The ‘open space’ meeting is also a manner through which to address some of the community rift that has been generated over this issue and move into better listening and toward finding solutions. All input received to date is still TOTALLY valid.

As your elected representative, I see my job as helping to craft the best possible draft bylaw that addresses as many of your concerns as reasonably possible and then making a strong case to the Regional District board to take that question to referendum for your vote. I do not know of a more democratic way of gauging opinion than directly asking for it. But the question is important. We only get to ask one question – once. It is important to note that the reason the discussion has been so tax focused is because taxation is the only substantive way your local government is able provide assistance in this situation. Other additional or replacement methods of supporting our halls are up to us as a community – not the Regional District.

Bylaw # 75 is the draft 2nd round of the proposed Cortes Island Community Hall Service. If it passes 3 readings as presented, or as amended, it would go to referendum for your vote. As presented, it proposes to create an electoral-area-wide service including all of Cortes, with a maximum requisition of $79,000 to be collected via a parcel tax amounting to no more than $85 per parcel per year. It proposes that “the Regional District may provide financial assistance to any public organization for operating and maintaining community hall facilities including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, constructing, enlarging and improving such facilities.”

Although being supportive of our halls in general, there are some who do not support taxation as a method of doing so. Others have provided constructive comment on the structure of proposed Bylaw #75. Some of that feedback and ideas include:
- Decrease the maximum taxation amount
- Limit the funding to support only infrastructure and core operating costs and not programming
- Limit the taxation area to just Manson’s
- Limit the taxation area to terrestrial properties excluding foreshore leases
- Limit the funding to the SCCA and WCC – excluding any future hall spaces
- Concern with the inequities of a parcel tax where properties with multiple residents pay the same amount as single home properties, and un-built lots pay when no home houses a hall user.
- Rather than a parcel tax, tax only the assessed value of improvements on land (not the land itself) thereby eliminating the inequities mentioned above as well as concern from land rich and cash poor property owners about an assessment-based taxation that taxes the entire property value.

The SCCA will do their very best to provide audited year end financials for 2009/2010 as well as a budget for 2010 and beyond. They will outline the SCCA's financial situation and needs and hopefully make this information available a few days before the meeting of August 14th.

Although this issue is important, the way in which we find conclusion will also inform the way we deal with each other and future community issues – of which there are many very important ones to come.

In gratitude for your future constructive kindness,
Noba Anderson, Regional Director