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Director will accept nothing less than a referendum on Campbell River boundary extension

Regional Director Brenda Leigh wants the city to know the only way her constituents will consider joining the city is through a referendum.

At last Thursday’s Strathcona Regional District Board meeting, Leigh said that she will accept nothing less.

“There is no other way this will be considered,” Leigh said.

At the meeting she put forth a motion, which was approved, that regional district “will accept nothing less” than a fair and democratic vote on the city’s proposal to extend its southern boundary into Area D.

Leigh said her motion was to set the record straight on a point raised by Campbell River City Manager Andy Laidlaw in a letter to Brian Reardon, chief administrative officer of the regional district.

Laidlaw wrote in his letter that city council is prepared to hold a referendum for affected residents in Area D (Crawford Road area) although it is “above and beyond provincial requirements for the approval process.”

Leigh disagreed.

“It’s that (the letter) says it’s not required that I take issue with,” Leigh said. “The ministry of Community, Sport, Cultural Development says it is required. Minister (of Community, Sport, Cultural Development) Bill Bennett, Mr. Reardon, and myself met on Sept. 27 and were told that a democratic vote is required in the affected area of Area D and I want to re-affirm that through this motion. I don’t want to leave any doubt.”

The city is proposing to extend its southern boundary in order to offer sewer services to the northern portion of Area D.

The regional district had been working with the city to reach a deal where Area D properties could be hooked up to the city’s sewer service.

However, that deal fell through last winter after the regional district turned down the city’s offer and the city pulled out of negotiations.

Leigh said the regional district couldn’t accept the city’s offer because the asking price was double what her constituents approved borrowing in a 2006 referendum.

In September, the city proposed extending its boundary so it can provide sewer service to properties in Area D. The proposal would incorporate 1,000 properties from Jubilee Parkway south to Henry Road and would allow 2,400 residents to hook up to the city’s sewer service.

The city has promised it will conduct a full consultation process and inform affected residents about service improvements and property tax changes if a referendum does go ahead.

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