District keeps taxes low

PORT McNEILL—The Regional District of Mount Waddington board approved its 2012 budget

PORT McNEILL—The Regional District of Mount Waddington board of directors approved its 2012 budget, with jumps in expenditures for parks, economic development and the Regional Arena more than offset by a large drop in solid waste expenditure.

Bylaw 834, which establishes a five-year financial plan for the district, was approved by the board during its regular monthly meeting Mar. 19.

The budget is comprehensive, and covers all revenue and expenditures for regionally funded and local service areas, along with semi-regionally funded services shared with municipalities, including transit, Vancouver Island Regional Libraries, Chilton Regional Arena and community recreation.

Local ratepayers will contribute an additional $130,111 in total taxes, an increase of less than one per cent over the 2011 budget. Total revenues and expenditures are slightly higher than the projected 2011 figures, but fall well below the actual 2011 budget, which included a $600,000-plus windfall to Seven Mile Landfill.

The board approved the budget, which has been worked on by committees and treasurer Joe Mackenzie for more than a month, without comment.

The biggest drop in the overall budget comes in solid waste, where the RDMW saw a substantial boost in anticipated tipping fees, along with approximately $680,000 to accept contaminated soils. The extra revenue brought in by solid waste service was in turn used to pay down debt related to a landfill expansion and addition of a leachate treatment plant.

Regional Arena costs will rise for most user groups, in part to offset the expense of a new, energy-efficient compressor for the aging facility. Some of the funding for the upgrade will come from provincial gas-tax revenue, but the total expense for the arena jumps from $528,769 to $595,335.

In bylaws related to the five-year budget plan, the board of directors also approved:

• Bylaw 831, establishing Regional Arena fees while repealing and amending the fee schedule established a year ago; and

• Bylaw 832, establishing Coal Harbour garbage collection rates while amending and replacing the previous bylaw approved for the service.

Rezone on hold

Directors declined to approve second reading on a sweeping zoning bylaw for the district’s Rural (A-1) zones, due to concerns over minimum lot sizes.

The bylaw would limit subdivisions to a minimum of four hectares (roughly 10 acres) in size. While exceptions are allowed for hydro electric generation systems and for public-use space, several directors felt the minimum lot size would keep out prospective buyers interested in smaller parcels of rural land.

“I have this fear the attitude is pull up the ladder, I’m on board, nobody else gets in,” said Gerry Furney, Port McNeill Mayor. “We’ve gotta think about the little guy we’re trying to get to settle here, and make it easy for him.”

District planner Jeff Long noted several B.C. regional districts operate under subdivision regulations in the legislated Local Services Act. The RDMW zoning bylaw takes precedent over the act, but if the zoning bylaw were scrapped it would allow qualified landowners to build on lots as small as one-quarter acre.

“I’m bringing that to your attention so you’re aware that’s another option. We could put a clause in the rural zone that says lot sizes shall be determined by the Local Services Act. It provides that flexibility.”

Area C director Andrew Hory said all interested parties should have a chance to sit at the table and provide input into the zoning bylaw, which has already been approved on first reading.

Council directed Long to return to the planning committee with the bylaw and gather additional comments before returning with a revised report.

 

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