The city’s proposal to extend its southern boundary is a “bad deal” for everybody involved, according to Mayor Walter Jakeway.
The mayor, who didn’t weigh in during the April 15 council meeting when councillors voted to proceed with the boundary adjustment, is speaking up now in opposition.
“Why would Campbell River taxpayers, who are already paying much more tax than the Area D folks, want to pay another $24 per year for Area D to have sewers?” Jakeway said. “City council’s initiative to incorporate portions of Area D into Campbell River, with the main purpose of extending sewer services, is a bad deal for both Area D and city taxpayers.”
Myriah Foort, the city’s finance manager, told council last week that extending the city’s southern boundary to provide 535 northern Area D residents with sewer service will put the city $3.9 million into debt. Campbell River taxpayers would be expected to pay an extra $24 a year in user fees for 20 years to pay off that debt.
Jakeway said he would prefer to see the city extend its sewer system to parts of the city that aren’t currently serviced, such as north towards Race Point Road near Seymour Narrows.
“The city development focus should be west and north to allow under-serviced areas to catch up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Area D residents Stan Zuke and D’Arcy de Hart are appealing to the Strathcona Regional District for assistance in maintaining their rural neighbourhoods and lifestyle.
“Any help that you can provide to secure Area D’s future in SRD (Strathcona Regional District) would be appreciated,” wrote Zuke and de Hart in a letter to the regional district board. The two men also asked the regional district to publicly present an impact assessment report, released earlier this month, which revealed all electoral areas would face tax increases and a loss of gas tax funding for future community projects if the city’s boundary proposal goes ahead. Area D residents not in the proposed boundary extension area would be on the hook for $34 in taxes that would be left unpaid due to the loss of residents to Campbell River.
Area D residents filled city council chambers last week and have presented a 673 signature petition to the province in opposition to the city’s boundary proposal.
Mayor Jakeway said it’s clear many Area D residents don’t want city sewers and when and if the time comes that they change their minds, they can approach the city.
“When Area D residents want to join the city to get sewer connection, they can ask,” Jakeway said. “Until then, the city has many neighbourhoods within our existing borders that are overdue for attention (such as) Campbellton, North Campbell River, and Quinsam Heights.”
The city is holding a public open house on its boundary extension proposal May 6 at Ocean Grove Elementary from 5-8 p.m.