As the Director for Area I (Youbou/Meade Creek) of the Cowichan Valley Regional District I feel that the taxpayers in our area will see no direct benefit from the installation of a water function. After all, much of the water flowing downstream from Cowichan Lake originates in Area I and our aquifers are in very good shape.
However, as a member of the CVRD board I also take a broader view of any potential water problems in the CVRD.
The proposal presented by staff to the CVRD board included the following breakdown for a perpetual annual budget of $750,000:
Staffing cost: $255,000
Hazard Management: $110,000
Land Use Planning: $70,000
Grants, etc.: $65,000
There are several items that you as the tax payer should be concerned about.
Two new staff members are to be hired. Do we really need more full-time employees? These two staff members would be in addition to the nine employees already requested in the 2019 budget at an additional annual cost of approximately $1.035 million.
Are non-government organizations or other societies going to be supported with this function, and if so, which ones? Is there going to be a benefit to the CVRD from these organizations?
There is ambiguity in the wording of the bylaw. Taxpayers are encouraged to read the bylaw carefully.
There is no mention of the construction or maintenance of a new weir and CVRD board members as well as residents attending the previous open house presentations were told that any new weir would be left with the senior governments to deal with. However, the new bylaw enables the CVRD to take out water licences and there is an expectation by some non-government organizations that this bylaw will be used to initiate the construction of a new weir. The new bylaw would also be used to funnel government grants through.
If it enables the CVRD to finance and construct a new weir, then that should have been clearly outlined. You as a tax payer have a right to know what the CVRD is planning to undertake in detail. You should not have to guess.
The cost of a new weir is estimated to be around $10 to $20 million. Since grants by senior governments usually finance only about up to 80 per cent of any undertaking by local government, that would leave a gaping hole of about $2 to $4 million, which would have to be covered by additional tax increases.
Questions should be asked what this bylaw exactly enables the CVRD to do.
If you cast your vote in favour of this function, do you think it is going to solve the perceived problem? Are you concerned about any additional tax requisitions that might follow?
There are going to be open houses in various locations between Sept. 18 and Oct. 9.
Klaus Kuhn is the CVRD area director for Area I (Youbou/Meade Creek).