North Cowichan has voted to consent to the adoption of the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Transit Service Amendment Bylaw.
Being asked to do this is part of the process for the region-wide agreement. According to Mayor Jon Lefebure, the previous formula, which was set up a long time ago, was unique in the province.
"It was very beneficial to North Cowichan. But, last year the director for Area E [Loren Duncan] asked for a review."
Now, the formula for paying for the service is completely based on assessment. For North Cowichan that will mean that the charge will go from a rate of $10.67 per $100,000 of assessment to $14 per $100,000 in three years.
Coun. Joyce Behnsen wanted no mistake about that. "Does this constitute a tax increase?" she asked.
"Absolutely," Lefebure replied. Lefebure said that, while some North Cowichan residents might not think about it, "we do benefit a great deal from transit."
Some runs, particularly in the south end of the Valley have been cut back but in North Cowichan, runs like the Prevost route and the Chemainus-Crofton route have proved popular.
"They carry a lot of passengers through North Cowichan. Another really popular run is the one from Lake Cowichan to Cowichan Commons. And we benefit from that one, too."
The new bylaw is aiming to spread out the impact of transit costs, he said.
Coun. Tom Walker said the former system was "for a different time. Now, with the mall and more businesses in North Cowichan, it’s changed. We now have a shopping destination."