The Cowichan Valley Regional District has wrapped up a series of information meetings dealing with the two referendum questions that will be on our ballots.
Brian Carruthers, Chief Administrative Officer said there were some common questions from the public at the meetings.
One of the questions deals with the establishment of a bylaw that would ultimately see the District collect just over 19 dollars a year for a home valued at 500,000 dollars, or a total of 765,000 dollars annually.
Carruthers said a common concern was accountability.
“The Cowichan Housing Association would receive the funds through a contribution agreement with the Regional District. That contribution agreement would spell out the objectives and how those funds were to be expended. The Association would be required to report annually to the Board of Directors as to how well they’ve done in accomplishing the objectives.”
The Association would be tasked with using the money to match non-profit housing ideas with suitable land, find developers to build the housing, and secure grants from senior levels of government to make the idea a reality.
Carruthers said people were also concerned about a lack of measures being in place to raise the tax requisition.
“The Board has the ability to raise those rates in terms of going back to a referendum or to an alternative approval process with the public if they so choose to raise those rates. They also have the ability to raise the maximum tax requisition rate by 25 per cent every five years and that’s built into the local government act that allows regional districts to increase that.”
That would mean whether or not that increase is coming would be a question for future council or board candidates at election time.
Also discussed at the workshops was the other bylaw dealing with establishing a water service.
Carruthers said people were worried the District was looking to take over existing water utilities or to regulate the water utilities and private wells but that’s not the case.
“Individual municipalities, improvement districts or CVRD water services would continue to operate independently. There’s no intent of the CVRD to take over those services, nor do we have the ability to regulate, that continues to be a power and authority of the province.”
One of the other questions that came up consistently, Carruthers said was, “Is the drinking water and watershed protection service intended to pay for raising the wier or construct new water storage at Lake Cowichan and clearly, it’s not, that’s not the intent of this service.”