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General News · 24th October 2019
Romina Wendell
I live on Cortes Island. I donít have kids in play school. I don't have a market stall, nor am part of the pottery guild. I seldom attend dances or dinners at either hall and mainly, for me, Mansons Hall is a place to collect mail, score Thrift Store finds and point visitors to buy market treats and get a sense of Cortes community. At the same time I will unequivocally be voting YES for the Hall Tax because as a property owner, I am invested in Cortes and the community. I know the Halls contribute greatly to the quality of life of the friends and neighbours who surround me, who serve me, who I work for and work with. This is not an altruistic endeavour. I want my local economy to thrive. I want to attract and keep a diverse population of all ages and backgrounds, and I want my land to be worth something. Allowing Cortes to become an island of bare-bones infrastructure does not help anyone's retirement plans. It does not contribute to people's ability to stay on their land or help its resale value.

Halls that host dances, fundraisers, community dinners and classes for young and old bolster Cortes islandís livability and local economy. Friday market is an economic engine that supplies or augments many resident's income. It attracts locals and tourists alike and generates money that is circulated throughout the island. Market booths, classes and programs not only allow many to make ends meet, but also provide a space for people to network, launch, and augment small ventures, and it generates income that spills over to other local businesses. The Halls cannot out-price their renters. A reasonable rental cost within the means of middle and lower income island residents makes for sustainable and diverse bookings. It allows people to live here and function in community. This helps maintain a healthy local economy.

While I do own land, I do not have a high income. I sometimes struggle to make ends meet but that struggle would be far worse if I did not have a diverse and resourceful community to rely on. If I want to live here I can not just think about my needs in isolation. I am in an interdependent relationship with those around me. It is demoralizing to ask volunteer board members or a skeleton staff to exist within a tenuous support system, never confident that they can pay for insurance, heating or repairs, or keep their doors open. Grants, which most often are given for only certain projects but not structural costs; and volunteer energy, which fluctuates greatly, are not reliable. The Halls need income stability. Many in the past who have suggested this or that short-term fundraiser have not wanted to back their suggestions with their own sweat equity. There is no inexhaustible pool of volunteers ready to meet the needs of the hall every time a crucial bill has to be paid. If the doors close that would be a significant loss, not only to community spirit, but also to the island economy. Property value does not go up with loss of community infrastructure.

The vast majority of island communities fund their halls. They recognize how important they are. As it stands, Cortes struggles to attract and keep young families and workers, who are vital to the island economy. If you want to retire here, who will be looking after your service needs if you allow for only the most bare-bones of social resources? As a property owner who is invested here, I am not interested in cultivating a ghost town. While you will never find a time when I am not on a tight budget, I know I can find the money for the Hall Tax because I recognize the Hall's value to the community extends far beyond its doors.
Thank you!
Comment by Samantha Statton on 25th October 2019
Excellent! Wonderfully said. I couldn't agree more, our Community halls are the life line of the island.
Without them we would be adrift.
beautifully put
Comment by De Clarke on 24th October 2019
I was going to say something about the hall tax issue, but I think Romina just said it for me.

BTW speaking of the non-altruistic angle, I was talking to someone recently who has worked at Quadra Island's community hall on and off over the years; and she told me that she often used to get phone calls or visits from people thinking about moving to the island - particularly people with kids - and they would question her at some length about the quality of programmes for kids, about what the hall had to offer, about community rec programmes.

Those amenities figured into their decision about whether to purchase on Quadra or elsewhere. And those decisions, cumulatively, set the market value of Quadra real estate.

Thanks, Romina!
Comment by Peter Jackel on 24th October 2019

you write so well about so much that is at the heart of what the Halls provide. I mean that literally. The Halls are an integral part of the heartbeat of Cortes Island.

Thank you for your great article.
Well said!!!
Comment by Lella Gmeiner on 24th October 2019
Dear Romina, Thank you so much for your strong, clear, articulate and heartfelt support for the Hal Tax!
Many it be the great success we all deserve!!!