The city’s proposal to extend its southern boundary has raised several concerns from the Strathcona Regional District, which would see its jurisdiction shrink should the process move forward.
The regional district appeared to be thrown for a loop following the city’s announcement Sept. 26 that it had met with provincial Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett to discuss potential annexation of Area D (Crawford Road area-Oyster Bay).
Brenda Leigh, Area D director, said, “I actually had no idea that this annexation question would come up. Although this proposal by Campbell River has caught me by surprise, I was able to obtain the necessary answers for the people of Area D and they can be rest assured that nothing is going to be forced upon them.”
Leigh reiterated at Wednesday’s regional district Committee of the Whole meeting that her constituents have no interest in joining the city – which was proposed as a solution to get homes in Area D hooked up to the city’s sewer service.
“I would like to politely say Area D is not in favour of this proposal,” Leigh said. “I’m sure if the City of Campbell River holds (public consultation) meetings in our area they will hear loud and clear they’re not in favour.”
Brian Reardon, the regional district’s chief administrative officer, said there’s not much the regional district can do about the city’s proposal at this point.
“In the absence of receiving any formal notification from the city regarding this matter there is nothing for the regional district to respond to at this time,” Reardon said. “Notwithstanding the foregoing, many questions and concerns have been raised about the process and potential implications should the proposed municipal boundary extension proceed.”
The city’s latest tactic comes following years of discussion between the city and the Strathcona Regional District to try and reach an agreement to extend city sewer service to properties in Area D. The properties are currently using septic systems, some of which are failing and in the process, posing health and environmental concerns.
Talks between the two parties came to a halt at the end of July after the city withdrew its offer to hook up Area D properties, citing an inability to come to an agreement.
Leigh said the problem was the city’s offer was double the amount her constituents approved borrowing in a 2006 referendum and the regional district could not possibly accept.
Mayor Walter Jakeway said extending the city boundaries to encapsulate Area D, which would then receive all city services and therefore higher property taxes, was discussed as a possible solution with Bennett at the Union of B.C. Municipalities in Victoria last month. He said no decisions were made, the city was simply inquiring into the feasibility of extending its boundaries.
Coun. Andy Adams tried to smooth things over at Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
“I apologize for any perception that this was done inappropriately,” Adams said. “The discussion with the minister was strictly speculative.”
Adams added that the city’s intent is to have full disclosure and conduct extensive consultation.