The Regional District of Nanaimo board has decided to increase the regional parks parcel tax by $2.
Instead of referring the matter back to the Regional Parks and Trails Selection Committee as approved by the board at the Jan. 8 committee of the whole, Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) director Bob Rogers, at the board’s regular meeting on Jan. 22, made the motion to reconsider the board’s position and introduced the parcel tax increase this year with the money to be placed in the Regional Parks Development Service Area Reserve Fund.
The goal is to make sure regional parks will have sufficient funds for parks acquisitions and capital development, while the RDN board figures out an equitable method of financing parks for all municipalities and electoral areas.
The motion passed but not all the directors agreed. Those who voted against it were Qualicum Beach director Teunis Westbroek, Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington) alternate director Julian Fell and Nanaimo director Sheryl Armstrong.
Nanaimo director Tyler Brown also made a recommendation to amend the proposed $2 hike and make it $6. The motion, however, was defeated.
Westbroek said that since he became a board member, he has always sought for a regional services review so there would be some equity with municipalities contributing to regional parks and electoral areas contributing towards the maintenance of ball fields.
“That’s what the equity was and it was determined to be at $10,” said Westbroek. “We agreed. Then Moorecroft (Park) came along and we thought ‘that’s a good park, we should buy that.’ And although Nanoose did not support our swimming pool because they said it was too far, we agreed for Qualicum Beach to help pay for Moorecroft. I think there’s a lack of equity there if you think about that.”
Westbroek also pointed out that the board discussed establishing development cost charges for regional parks in the electoral areas and yet it has not happened despite all the massive developments.
“I think that’s unfair,” said Westbroek. “You could easily do it, DCCs for parks or community amenities. I talked to a lawyer today and you can do that.”
Westbroek opposed any parcel tax increases of any amount as the Town of Qualicum Beach and City of Parksville, he said, when they acquired lands for parks last year did not get any support from the electoral areas.
“Qualicum Beach spent $3 million to $4 million on a waterfront park right on the boundary towards Area H,” Westbroek said. “I expect a lot of people from your area and other areas will use that waterfront park. No support, no DCCs, no parcel tax from the electoral areas. So I think it’s time that we look at the opportunities for electoral areas to collect more money from development in their area to include the amenities of DCCs for parks. I am not going to be voting for a $6, or $4 or $2 increase.”
Parksville director and city mayor Ed Mayne finds it conflicting that while the board finds the process to be “unfair and yet we’re turning around now and say ‘it’s OK we’re going to look at it in 2019 and in the meantime we’re just going to continue to put more money into process.”
“I happen to agree we don’t get any support for our parks in the city of Parksville,” said Mayne. “I am not supporting why we should be contributing towards the regional parks, in the form of a tax, whether it’s $2, $4 or $6.”