City boundary extension up to Campbell River voters

The property currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Strathcona Regional District

Campbell River voters will have until mid-July to register their opposition to an extension to the city’s boundary.

Council, at its Tuesday meeting, voted to use the Alternate Approval Process to get approval from the city’s electors to move property from the Strathcona Regional District into the city.

The boundary extension is to accommodate Quinsam Coal, which has petitioned the city to move a 140-hectare site it has purchased from TimberWest into the city.

The property currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Strathcona Regional District’s Area D but Quinsam Coal wants to streamline operations and deal with just one local government.

The new property borders the lands already owned by Quinsam Coal and which are part of the City of Campbell River.

Tracy Bate, the city’s deputy city clerk, said that although council has already given support to the move, the boundary extension cannot go any further until the city has the support of its registered voters.

“Assent of the electors can be obtained by either a referendum or the Alternate Approval Process under Section 86 of the Community Charter,” Bate said. “The Alternate Approval Process would permit council to proceed with the boundary extension so long as no more than 10 per cent of the city’s electors object by signing an elector response form.”

Bate said the city has determined that there are 24,167 electors in Campbell River which means that more than 2,417 of those voters would have to sign an opposition form and return it to City Hall in order to stop the boundary extension.

The city intends to set a deadline of July 20 at 4 p.m. for any opposition forms.

If the boundary extension is approved by both electors and the province, the property will be taxed at the city’s industrial tax rate and is expected to generate roughly $6,600 per year in property tax revenue for the city.

The Strathcona Regional District, according to a report in late March from the organization’s CAO, said that the property, if assessed at $200,000, would contribute roughly $1,200 in taxes to Area D and the loss of that tax revenue would result in an increase of less than $0.01 per $1,000 of assessed property value to the rest of Area D.

While the regional district has signed off on the boundary extension, six directors did oppose the move including Area D’s representative, Brenda Leigh.

For Leigh, it’s the second time in a year that the City of Campbell River has proposed extending its boundary by going into Area D.

Last summer, the city offered its sewer services to the northern portion of Area D if the residents there agreed to join the city. That proposal was defeated, however, in a referendum last June 28.

This time around, the boundary extension proposal was brought forward by Quinsam Coal, and though supported by council, was not initiated by the city.

Gary Gould, general manager of Quinsam Coal, told council last year that the intention of the mining company is to expand its operations onto the new, 140-hectare property.

In the meantime, Quinsam Coal intends to suspend all coal mining activity for eight weeks, starting on July 1.

Gould said the suspension is the result of ongoing weak demand and depressed pricing for thermal coal.