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General · 23rd July 2014
Jim Abram
IMPORTANT: Voting day reminder
For all of the people living in the area encompassed by the Quathiaski Cove Sewer Expansion Area, I just want to remind all of you, owners and residents, to make sure you make use of your right to vote on this coming Saturday, July 26th, from 8am to 8pm, at the Quadra Island Elementary School. If you are not registered, it does not matter. You can bring two pieces of valid ID, and if necessary sign a declaration that you live in the area (for residents), and you will be added to the list. This is a very important vote and will determine if the 38 properties in the area will be included in the sewer service or not. It is your choice!

Please make use of your democratic right to vote, one way or the other.

Transport Canada Wharves Divestiture
This Thursday, July 24th, I will be meeting with our senior staff and with the senior Federal negotiators for the three wharves in our area that are being divested by Transport Canada: Surge Narrows, Owen Bay and Port Neville. Since the issue is still in camera, I will need to wait until the Board gives direction on release of the information. More to follow, hopefully next report!

Ferry (what would a report be without something about ferries?)
I am only going to say that as far as I am concerned and as far as a great number of you are concerned, the Ferry schedule is not working out for anyone, including the crew and the other staff. We are still being stone-walled by management about changing the schedule right now, rather than waiting until the fall. They continue to insist that “they want to see how it plays out” even though we all know how it is playing out: inconvenience to all! I would suggest that you barrage the BCFS managers with emails and calls to let them know you want it changed right now! Here are some contacts: Darin.Guenettebcferries.com, Corrine.Storeybcferries.com, Al.deKoninckbcferries.com, and last but not lease, the big cheese, Mike.Corriganbcferries.com Tell them your painful stories. Tell them to implement the suggested changes and get us back to close as possible to the original schedule: Now!

Granite Bay Park and Kanish View Drive
I went up to the Granite Bay Park and wharf facility a few days ago. Wow! Was I ever shocked!. After the many years of my life that I put into getting the Min. of Highways to take over that short section of road, meeting with Deputy Ministers and senior staff, they finally agreed about a year ago. They also agreed that they were going to do “some upgrades” to the road this year. Well, when I saw it, I was stopped in my tracks. The bridge that crosses the creek from Granite Bay Rd. to Kanish Dr. has been resurfaced and has concrete barriers along the sides and the road up from there is completely ditched and resurfaced with road mulch and the road to the Park parking lot, boat ramp and wharf is completely widened, ditched and resurfaced. I would like to thank the crew at Emcon Services for doing such an incredible job on a project that has gone on for far too long. Emcon did a wonderful job! What an asset these upgrades are to our community.

Clarification re: “Taxation by Stealth” - July 2, 2014 edition of the “Bird’s Eye".
This is the second time in less than three weeks that I have had to write a clarification to misleading information that has been submitted to our local media. The article as submitted is wrong. First of all, it is comparing grapes with grapefruit (if you consider size). The ten year time frame used encompasses both the Comox-Strathcona Regional District and the Strathcona Regional District figures, which are two completely different organizations, with different structures, different staffing, different buildings and different infrastructure. One was huge and the other is very small. That was the first major mistake on the part of the author.

The first question that has to be asked to put this all in perspective is, “How has my property assessment changed during those 10 years?” and that would be both percentage and actual dollar value. And guess what? The Local Government DOES NOT set the assessment. That is done by the BC Assessment Authority and all of our taxation is based on that figure.

It should be noted here that local government (the Regional District in this case) only requisitions what they need to run a service. We look at the needed dollars and then apportion that out to our taxpayers. It is not an arbitrary number. Look at the services that you get and look at what you pay for them and you will find that you are getting good value for your money. The myth that is being perpetrated by the author is that local government gouges the public for its own benefit. Look at your tax bill. I looked at mine. It went down $85.00 this year. Now, I realize that varies with all properties due to the ASSESSMENT set by the Assessment authority, but we are not being gouged.

Now let’s look at the very misleading chart that was in the article. First of all the Provincial taxes are listed and the percentage is said that the Provincial taxes “have been within the realm of reason”! Think again. The Police tax is not “a new tax”. It used to be part of the Rural tax and was separated out about 9 or 10 years ago. So the author should pay more attention. Now lets look at the actual dollar value of each of those Provincial figures. The Police tax is $.15/$1000.00 of assessed value; the School tax is $2.56/$1,000.00 of assessed value; the Rural tax is $.56/$1,000.00 of assessed value. That equals $3.27/$1,000.00 of assessed value. Your Regional District taxes (SRD Area C and Community Hall) equal $1.05/$1,000.00 of assessed value (this is based on the residential rate). That is less than 1/3 of what you are paying for your Provincial services. Let me explain further.

The author has completely misled you into believing that a number of the line items in the chart are “Regional District” taxes. So, let’s have a look.
The Hospital. Yes it has gone up dramatically, due to the $600 million dollar-plus hospital that local government is obligated to pay 40% of. And that legislation is not under the Regional District. It is stand alone and should not be lumped in to the outrageous “116%” increase that the author quotes.
Next is Waste Management: Once again, separate, legislation and set by the Comox Valley Regional District Solid Waste Committee, which we at the SRD are a part of but do not have a prevailing vote on. We can never sway the vote on budget items such as this. The record will show that I argued, along with a couple of other directors, that we should never be putting waste management costs onto the taxes. They should continue to be paid by the tipping fees as they have been as long as I have been your director. I continue to argue that point and have had very heated meetings with the top staff in the Comox Valley over this issue. Their vote always wins out. The actual dollar value on your taxes is very small, but the principal is wrong. You will see this number rise over the years if the Comox Valley continues to get its way. So scratch that amount from our total percentage. So scratch that one from the list.

And I really love this one. The Regional District is being blamed for the South Quadra Fire requisition. It is too bad that the author didn’t do his homework. He should know that the Fire District is its OWN LOCAL GOVERNMENT. It has nothing to do with the Regional District. It existed before the RD. It has its own Board of Directors and its own staff and requisitions its own amount of taxes since it has the legislated authority to do so. We at the SRD have absolutely no input into their budget. So you can forever scratch that one from the SRD list of taxes.

Vancouver Island Library has its own huge Board of Directors, with one representative from each local govt. within the catchment area of Vancouver Island, etc. Our ONE vote sways no one as far as what the budget figure will be. We are presented with the tax figure for the year and we have nothing to say about its implementation. It is a done deal. Keep in mind what you get for that $.21/$1,000.00 of assessment. We have one of the busiest Libraries in the District, providing real and electronic services of all types and employing Quadra Islanders with much needed jobs. So, there is another one you can scratch off the list.

Then we get to the Municipal Finance Authority. The actual dollar amount that we pay is $.0002/$1,000.00 and they provide all of the financing for the SRD at rock bottom interest rates. The amount is listed as “38%” increase. The amount of actual money is negligible. Scratch!

And last of all, we have the “BC Assessment” line item. This service is the assessing of your property so that we will have a consistent number to base our taxation on. In actual dollars we pay $.06/$1,000.00 for this service.

So, first of all, I would caution you to not look at percentages since they do not have any perspective regarding “real dollars” and what you receive for those dollars. A percentage increase does not tell what you get for your money, what increase you have gotten in services for that money, nor the cost of doing business as it changes over the years. Inflation does not tell the entire story. Many services that we need to avail ourselves of have far exceeded inflation. Keep in mind that the Provincial portion of your taxes is huge in comparison to what you pay for local services.

Are you aware that the line item #5 in the author’s article, "SRD Area C”, that he lists as a 114% increase (that equates to $.82/$1,000.00 of assessment), is actually the delivery of all of your 911 services, your Emergency Program Services, Your Economic Development Services, the General Administration Service, the Electoral Area Service, including elections, The entire Community Parks service, The entire Planning service, the House numbering service, the GIS service (all mapping), and the Grants in Aid service to name a few. For those of you that are not aware of this, these services are HUGE assets to our daily lives. Please keep in mind that the major portion of your tax bill is provincial or other governments, not the SRD.

Lastly, if you really want to see a relative picture of taxation reality, please look at what the percentage increase and the actual dollar increase of your property assessment has been over the same period. How does that compare to the misleading figures given to you in “Taxation by stealth”?

Okay, that is about it for now. Feel free to call me between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday (please, not on weekends, folks!) at 285-3355, or you can fax me at 285-3533 or you can email me anytime at jimabramxplornet.ca or by mail at Box 278 in the Cove, V0P 1N0… or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JimAbram…. If it is important, my cell is 250-830-8005… Lots of choices.

Please do not use my residential phone number for SRD calls. All business calls should be on 285-3355. Many thanks!

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Abram

Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD