Pool referendum nixed for Cowichan’s Area E

There will be no referendum held in Area E this fall to determine if residents want to renew a Cowichan Aquatic Centre equal access agreement for the next three years, leaving the future of the community’s access to the facility up in the air.

Two-tier fees were dropped for residents of Area E after the equal access agreement that specified an annual payment from the area was signed in August of last year.

That agreement expired in December of 2013, but was renewed for 2014 through an alternative approval process, where residents agreed to an annual contribution service being established with a maximum requisition of $23,000 per year.

To renew the agreement for another three years would have required a referendum at the time of municipal elections this fall. This renewal would have set a significantly higher requisition at around $49,000 per year for 2015, 2016, and 2017.

CVRD staff calculated the cost of a referendum in Area E at as much as $20,000, more than the total 2014 requisition amount of $19,200. Further, that cost would

be deducted from the requisition, possibly leaving the Aquatic Centre with only $3,000 from Area E if the referendum result was a "no". CVRD Corporate Secretary Joe Barry said in a report that they would expect a referendum on a requisition increase of 257 per cent to fail. Director Loren Duncan said he concurred.

"I do actually agree with the conclusions reached," said North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure.

Partners in the pool include the Municipality of North Cowichan, the City of Duncan, and Cowichan Tribes. Electoral areas A, B, C, and D also have agreements with the partners so their residents don’t have to pay twotier fees.

Lefebure said that the partners will now have to discuss what comes next. Duncan stated that his area is prepared to continue to contribute a maximum of $23,000 per year as set up under the contribution service that remains in place.