Kervin’s Corner: Port Hardy Residents Need Further Discussion on Proposed Multiplex

The multiplex project would mean a new building to replace the existing civic centre.

We’re waiting in anticipation about the multiplex. And so far the Regional District of Mount Waddington has rejected any grant proposals made in the past. It is yet to be seen whether the RDMW will accept or deny any funding for the project, so it’s safe to say the regional government is re-evaluating it in the short months to come.

The project is a wonderful idea — it would be a place for community engagement. What’s not so wonderful, however, is that there wasn’t much time to actually discuss it. It felt rushed.

The multiplex project would mean a new building to replace the existing civic centre. The project costs an estimated $10,000,000 according to the District’s YouTube video on the survey. In a press release, it was then estimated that it may be more likely around $12,000,000. Mayor and Council are looking to the community for donations, too. In fact, Marine Harvest generously offered $250,000 to support the project already — which is a great thing.

Now, remember the District held a referendum vote last October — almost a year ago. One of the many things that is important for referendum legitimacy is a super majority (66 per cent of the vote in favour). In fact, it is a pretty commonplace requirement in national, provincial, and municipal law.

Admittedly, survey results reveal 74 per cent of respondents are in support of a new building. That’s 380 survey respondents who are actually in favour, “Agree” or “Strongly Agree,” for a new facility. Again, for a super majority at least 66 per cent is needed — so that threshold was met. Some might argue that only 50 per cent is enough to say there is strong support from the community, but I’d say that’s just meeting the minimum requirement and doesn’t warrant a mandate.

What’s less obvious, though, is that there was no broad participation from the community. This point, broad participation, is another important factor for successful public engagement in serious issues.

However, it is difficult, I admit, to engage a small town population. In fact, it seems to be a recurrent issue for all towns throughout Canada to have even at least more than 50 per cent of the population vote in municipal elections, so it’s doubly hard to have a referendum with community participation.

About 616 individuals voted in the “Port Hardy Recreation Survey” but of those 616 only 75 per cent were from Port Hardy. That means 462 people from our community had a say.

That’s only 11 per cent of Port Hardy’s population. There are 4132 residents of Port Hardy according to the recent 2016 long form Census. If you ask me, that’s not really broad participation. In fact, I’d argue that that’s not even enough for a strong mandate, but perhaps that’s splitting hairs at this point.

It’s unclear whether non-Port Hardy residents were included in the final results, let alone included in the “yes” votes. Were non-Port Hardy residents allowed a say in a vote that would mainly affect only Port Hardy residents, that is?

It’s not too big of a deal to allow non-Port Hardy residents a vote, sure. But if that is the case, I’d say it’s fair that other local communities, namely Port Alice and Port McNeill, pitch in some funds and tax dollars if this project goes through.

What we do need to know, however, is whether non-Port Hardy votes were counted in the 77 per cent total in favour. This may have tilted the vote in favour of reaching that 66 per cent super majority that is usually needed in referendums.

Don’t get me wrong, a multiplex is a great idea that will create a better sense of community. But we need to prolong the conversation just a bit longer so that other residents have a chance to voice their concerns too.

After all, we’re paying tax dollars to make it happen — rather, there will be a small tax increase to help fund the project, by the way.

Thomas Kervin is a recent political science alumnus from Simon Fraser University.

He was born and raised in Port Hardy.

He’s also a First Nations person who wants to address issues facing Indigenous communities today.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Port Hardy called in record number of black bear sightings last year

Conservation Officers attended 74 of the 314 calls made

North Island recreation camping site closed due to vandalism

Ruined picnic tables are the main damage

Port McNeill’s outdoor swimming pool will stay closed this summer

The Town of Port McNeill typically hires 12-13 staff for the pool every year.

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe comapaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Most Read