The referendum on a new funding formula for recreational facilities in the Cowichan Valley has passed by 980 votes.
The referendum, which was held in all four municipalities and the nine electoral areas in the Cowichan Valley Regional District during the municipal elections on Oct. 15, saw 8,985 votes in favour of the new usage-based funding model for recreational facilities, while 8,005 voted against it.
Other than the Town of Lake Cowichan, which saw 506 vote against it and 357 in favour, the majority of voters in the other three municipalities in the CVRD — North Cowichan, Duncan and Ladysmith — voted in favour of the new funding model.
However, with 4,235 voting against and 2,719 in favour, the majority of voters in the electoral areas are against it.
John Elzinga, the CVRD’s general manager of community services, said the first priority now that the referendum has passed is to officially certify the results and align the budgets of the region’s recreational facilities in accordance with the new bylaw.
“There’s some administrative work to do to prepare the budget information and we’re hoping to get it to the board later this fall. This was a long time coming and it took a lot of work over several years to get to this point,” he said.
After reviewing a number of alternative funding models for nine significant recreation facilities in the area, the CVRD decided last year to move forward, pending the referendum results, with a usage-based funding model that would better reflect the proportion of cost each municipality and electoral area should contribute to the ongoing maintenance and operation of each facility.
The nine significant recreation centres that were studied include those operated by the CVRD, Municipality of North Cowichan, Town of Ladysmith, and the Chesterfield Sports Society.
They included the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, Cowichan Community Centre, Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, Cowichan Sportsplex, Ladysmith Frank Jameson Community Centre, Fuller Lake Arena, Kerry Park Recreation Centre and the Shawnigan Lake Community Centre.
Recreation projects and complexes in the CVRD have been planned, built and funded piecemeal by self-interested areas and municipalities within the regional district, rather than by the regional district as a whole.
This has led to years of in-fighting amongst areas within the CVRD competing for recreation projects and dollars, including funding for the maintenance and operation of the facilities.