Deep Bay director Veenhof wants to reduce taxes

Also from the Regional District of Nanaimo committee of the whole meeting Tuesday night: RDN will buy surplus portables from school district

Regional district director Bill Veenhof brought forward a motion to slash taxes in some electoral areas at Tuesday night’s RDN committee of the whole meeting.

“It’s really focussed on areas E, F, G and H (Nanoose Bay, Coombs/Errington, French Creek and Deep Bay/Bowser) who pay a tax (collectively) — in my area it’s $20,000 — to subsidize liquid waste haulers,” he said explaining “the idea is it offsets the cost of dumping at French Creek.”

Veenhof said he’d prefer to see that on a user-pay system.

“The effect, at least in my area, would be reducing the overall tax increase from four per cent to two per cent so it’s worth considering,” he said.

Veenhof’s motion directed staff to review the Northern Community Wastewater Service requisition allocated to properties not in community sewer service areas from a user pay perspective and to report back next month.

The motion was carried and will come up for a vote at the next regular RDN meeting on Jan. 27.

Other highlights from the committee of the whole meeting:

• A few changes were made to select and advisory committees given the new board. Director Bob Rogers, who represents Nanoose Bay, will take over from former director George Holme on the Northern Community Economic Select Committee; director Alec McPherson, who represents Cedar, will now be on the Regional Parks and Trails Select Committee; and director Howard Houle, who represents Gabriola Island, will be on the Agricultural Advisory Committee.

RDN chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson will participate on the Oceanside Initiative management team through the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce.

• The board carried a motion directing staff to arrange another meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture regarding Deep Bay’s seaweed harvest prior to the 2015-2016 season and to work with the MOA on a communications strategy. RDN planner Geoff Garbutt said the harvest is “of great concern to residents in the area.”

• The New Building Canada Fund – Small Communities Fund (NBCF-SCF) is open for submissions until Feb. 18. It supports infrastructure projects in communities with a population of less than 100,000 people. The program offers up to a maximum of two-thirds of the total eligible project costs on a one-third basis split between the federal and provincial governments. The board carried a motion endorsing the following projects: Interceptor and pump station expansion at the French Creek Pollution Control Centre at $3.5 million; treatment upgrades for the San Pareil Water System at $1.2 million; treatment upgrades for the Whiskey Creek Water System at $1.2 million and centrifuge and polymer system for the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre at $1.4 million. It was noted that the Englishman River Water Service was already applied for through the City of Parksville.

• The board carried a motion to purchase and install surplus portables from School District 69 in Meadowood Way Community Park. The funding will be provided by the Community Works Fund for Coombs/Errington. The estimated cost to move and bring the portables up to code is $272,323.

• Director Howard Houle brought forward a motion requesting the board send a letter to Transportation Minister Todd Stone requesting a social-economic study be conducted in relation to the impact of a bridge connecting Gabriola Island to Nanaimo. The requested study would come after a feasibility study was granted to look at the same bridge.

•  Qualicum Beach mayor Teunis Westbroek brought forward a motion to write a letter of support for the Communities to Protect Our Coast and to include the group in the RDN’s print and online communication.

All motions will need to be ratified at the next regular RDN board meeting slated for Jan. 27.

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