Consultation just window dressing

Cobble Hill – I find it laughable the CVRD suggests their planned consultation this spring will provide genuine public input on the Duncan Sportsplex funding, an issue for which they have broken their own rules in giving away public money through annual grants to this high-cost facility for the past six years.

A small group of people use this facility overall and they want the majority of us to pay for their fun and games through more tax increases.

Last year the CVRD held a similar “consultation” effort for the Island Savings Centre in Duncan, the biggest tax spender in the region.

I went to two of the three public sessions they organized to determine public support for spending lots of new money on that facility as well as taxing in advance for future capital spending. There was no option presented for a vote that addressed cutting the centre’s high operating costs or requiring the minority who actually use the facility to pay more. Right now the CVRD only collects less than one-third of the costs from users. Taxpayers are forced to pay the rest.

The two ISC sessions I attended were overwhelmingly against this new taxing and spending plan. CVRD staff themselves were caught voting for spending more money in spite of that clear conflict of interest.

At the one meeting that was in favour of the spending the meeting was stacked with vested interests that would directly benefit from this new spending. Because they didn’t get all the support they wanted in the public sessions the CVRD then held private meetings with ISC user groups to cook up supposed public support for their new taxing plans.

All in all this was a phony exercise for a predetermined tax increase and that’s exactly what the CVRD board did in significantly raising taxes last year for the ISC.

The CVRD has always had problems understanding democracy when it comes to raising

taxes for their pet projects. They have used the illegitimate Alternate Approval Process, the negative billing option that is illegal for everyone to use except the CVRD and local governments, more than 50 times in the past decade to increase taxes and borrow money.

There is only one legitimate way to determine public opinion on new spending and that is at the ballot box in a properly worded referendum during elections held every three years. Why is the CVRD so chicken to use this appropriate process to determine the public will on more tax increases?

W.E. (Bill) Dumont

Cobble Hill