Area E residents rallying against pool rate hike bid

The Cowichan Valley Regional District board wants to increase the annual tax requisition to $61,500 from $23,000 for Area E residents

Oct. 5 is the drop-dead date for Area E (Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora) residents to make their feelings known on increasing the Area’s annual contribution to the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District board wants to increase the annual tax requisition to $61,500 from $23,000 for Area E residents, which had previously been set in 2013.

The increase is 3.5 times what Areas A, B, C and D pay and more than six times Area F and I rates.

But pool usage statistics show that more Area E residents are using the pool more frequently and North Cowichan and Duncan governments, who contribute the most to and run the pool, would like to see residents of that area pay their fair share.

“The municipalities have advised that if the requisition limit is not increased, they may choose to reinstate two-tier fees for Area E residents in 2016,” said a CVRD backgrounder.

A two-tier payment system operated at the pool between January 2009 and the end of 2014 when all jurisdictions began contributing to the service through local taxes.

Area E resident Leo Kasbergen has been vocal in his opposition of the rate hike.

“We pay more than any of the other areas and I can’t see why,” he said. “We [Area E] don’t seem to be using the pool that much. If you don’t use it you don’t cause any maintenance so why should we pay for it?”

Kasbergan thought it should have been an issue during the last election.

“With the election it’s much easier for people to object to it,” he explained, saying that now people have to get elector response forms and get them back to the CVRD offices by a deadline.

“A lot of people can’t be bothered with that,” he said.

The board has undertaken the Alternative Approval Process instead of a more costly referendum to solicit input, meaning if less than 10 per cent of eligible electors (340 electors) don’t submit their forms by Oct. 5, the bylaw increasing the tax will be deemed to have community approval and the board can proceed with adopting a bylaw.

The cost for homeowners would be about $8.43 per $100,000 of assessed value if the board adopts an amendment bylaw but that’s based on 2015 not 2016 assessments.

“I was raised that you pay for what you use,” Kasbergan said. “We’ve got a lot of these things that people use and expect everybody else to pay for it. I think there is too much of that going on. A lot of people, they expect something for next to nothing and expect somebody else to pay for that and I don’t agree with it.”

Calls to Area E Director Alison Nicholson were not returned by press time.

Elector response forms are available online (www.cvrd.bc.ca) and from the CVRD offices at 175 Ingram St. in Duncan and the original signed forms must be returned to the Ingram Street headquarters on or before Monday, Oct. 5 at 4:30 p.m. Faxed or emailed forms are not allowed.