General News · 25th August 2010
Those of you not involved in the current hall tax conversation may not identify with this, but for many it is very real. People have lost friendships, working relationships and a few are considering leaving the island. We are raw right now as a community – stretched – tired – even heartbroken.
Without exception, everyone that I have spoken with who participated in the August 14th ‘Open Space’ meeting at Linnaea about the community hall tax issue believes that that effort is worth continuing; that something began to shift – that we were able to listen to and hear each other in a new way. People on both ‘sides’ of this hall tax issue believe that we have a good chance of shifting future interactions with one another and of finding a good way to support our community spaces.
This issue, however, does need a conclusion and I am committed to a referendum at the request of the SCCA membership and board, understanding that it is the most democratic way of proceeding. Manson’s Hall actually does need our attention, and although the structural issues could be ignored another year, it is not a sustainable situation. Many of you are exhausted and exasperated already by the amount of time and energy this seemingly little issue has taken and will, at least at first, be disheartened by any further delay. Tomorrow, August 26th, I am going to request the Strathcona Regional District Board to give proposed bylaw #75 two reading with the amendment below, give third reading in January, and proceed to referendum in the Spring of 2011. I am only 1 of 13 votes, but I will make the strongest case I can. Although this precludes 2011 taxation going to support our community halls, the intervening time will allow for better dialogue, questions to be answered and alternatives explored.
We have all come to acknowledge that, with very few exceptions, the controversy that has re-emerged around the proposed hall tax is not really about the money. It’s about something else. About power and control, differing identification of community, fear of the continued erosion of what we hold dear, libertarian versus social democrat views, mistrust of government, loathing of taxes, re-enactment of loyalties to deep affinity groups, a satisfaction to be had from conflict. Whatever the combination, we must do better. We cannot energetically afford as a community to continue on in this way. We need each other. We need each other’s kindness and open cooperation far too much to carry on with this kind of divisiveness, and at times outright animosity.
I own my part in having got us to where we are, and I will equally stand with you in our collective responsibility to get us through this communication bottle-neck. We have been here – divided - may times before, but we cannot afford to repeat this. However impossible you might think it to be, and however naive you might think I am, I am asking you, and all of us, to put your name to your words and require of other that they do the same and to come out to more ‘Open Space’ discussions, yes about the tax, but more importantly about the issues beneath it all.
The possibility of continued community exhaustion is real, and can only be overcome by people actually participating who have varying views on these complex underlying issues. That is where I turn to you. In turn, I commit, as long as I am in this role, to find community consultation methods that better honor you and all of us.
Current wording in draft bylaw 75:
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 forgoing, constructing, enlarging and improving such facilities.
The Regional District may provide financial assistance to the Southern Cortes Community Association and/or the Whaletown Community Club for *utilities, insurance and for maintaining community hall facilities including enlarging and improving such facilities. * ‘utilities’ include electricity, heat, garbage collection, phone/fax/ internet, & property tax.
Aug 25, 2010