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Area D referendum a go

The province approves of Campbell River’s southern boundary extension plans and is prepared to sign off on a referendum to allow Area D residents to have their say.

Coralee Oakes, minister of community, sport and cultural development, said she will give the seal of approval to a June 28 referendum on the condition that both the Strathcona Regional District and the city approve motions to hold the vote on that date.

“After careful consideration, I have concluded that I would be prepared to sign an order for a referendum on Saturday, June 28, 2014, provided that I receive, before the end of day of Friday, May 23, 2014,…resolutions from the council of the City of Campbell River and the board of the Strathcona Regional District requesting the referendum,” Oakes wrote in a letter to the regional district.

The regional district board met Thursday, after the Mirror went to press, and was expected to approve the June 28 referendum date while the city has scheduled a council meeting for this afternoon to do the same.

Oakes said she also requires that council and the regional district board acknowledge that this is a short time frame within which to hold the referendum and as a consequence, Oakes wants commitments from the board and council that it will make every reasonable effort to provide the best, most accurate information to residents.

“I recognize the interest of both parties in a resolution of the boundary extension question well before the general local government election (to be held Nov. 15); however, I am concerned with the limited time available to organize a referendum and the ability to ensure that citizens have the information they need to make a well-informed decision on this most important question,” Oakes wrote.

The question is, do Area D residents want to join the city in order to get sewer service?

The city is proposing extending its southern boundary to take in 535 Area D properties south of the city limit to McGimpsey Road (an estimated population of 1,235) and hook those properties up to the city’s sewer service.

If 51 per cent of the affected residents vote in favour, each property owner is expected to pay $9,300 – either in one lump sum or over 20 years, likely starting in 2015. Residents would have up to five years to connect to the city’s sewer system and pay the $1,800 connection fee. There would also be a third cost for property owners – to connect their home to the sewer line.

The project, which would require the city to extend its sewer line south to Area D, would also cost Campbell River taxpayers – an extra $24 a year in user fees to be exact – which would last for 20 years until a $3.9 million project debt was paid off.

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