EDITORIAL: Town and country

It's no great mystery why there are more houses being built on regional district land outside the boundaries of Parksville, Qualicum Beach

When a buyer or builder looks to build a house or subdivision, he/she is like any other consumer buying any other product.

They consider the price, and the value, before making the economic leap.

And so it goes in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region, where population is declining in the two big communities (see reporter Candace Wu’s story in today’s edition of The NEWS) and increasing in the regional district lands between and around them.

If you decide to build or buy in, say, French Creek or Errington, you have access to the same amenities — pool, rink, shopping, parks — as someone who lives within the boundaries of Parksville or Qualicum Beach.

However, your tax bill is hundreds of dollars lower every year than your city and town neighbours.

Similarly, if a builder is considering the area, why not produce a product on the lower-taxed land — it’s a good selling point. What’s more, development cost charges are also less on RDN land than the town or city, so it seems a no brainer, a win-win for both the developer and the potential home buyer.

We had a conversation recently with a city politician about this who said something to the effect: yeah, but wait until it snows, then they will know the difference.

Um, we’re still waiting. Let’s face facts: it doesn’t really snow here. Most of us live within a kilometre or two of the ocean and in the last two winters, snow has stayed on the ground for a grand total of about four days.

Is that all you’ve got to show the difference between the city and regional district services, snow clearing?

The trend will continue. Both Parksville and Qualicum Beach will talk about strategies to attract more families, more people in general, but until they address the taxation and DCC discrepancies with the RDN, more and more people will build and live in the RDN.

In the end, this is not a bad thing for the local economy and job creation. Those who live in the RDN shop in the same places locally as those who live in Parksville or Qualicum Beach. It does, however, further stretch the ability of the town and city to maintain and upgrade the services it currently delivers.

— Editorial by John Harding

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