McIvor Lake residents who want out of the city are demanding the municipality take action and are threatening legal action if its request remains ignored.
A group of nine residents presented the city with a petition in late August declaring its intent to be excluded from the City of Campbell River under a section of the Local Government Act which allows a city to apply to the province for a reduction of its municipal area.
City council voted to receive the petition at a council meeting Aug. 28 but have yet to take any action. Council had also heard a presentation from resident Aref Tabarsi about the poor condition of McIvor Lake Road in June of 2011.
Council’s inaction has frustrated residents who are looking for answers.
“It has been a few months since the submission of our request and petition to be excluded from the city municipality,” write the residents of McIvor Lake Road in a letter to council dated Nov. 7. “We have not heard your decision as of yet. Our previous communications were similarly ignored. However, out of respect for the city, this letter is a reminder with one month notice to hear your decision. Otherwise, if ignoring the issue is the city’s strategy in dealing with our request, then we have no choice but to take further action through the Supreme Court.”
Tabarsi, who lives on McIvor Lake Road and has been championing annexation from the city for months, doesn’t understand why he’s paying city taxes for services he’s not getting.
“Why am I paying taxes as if I live in Willow Point or downtown?” Tabarsi wondered during a March presentation to the Strathcona Regional District (which would have jurisdiction should the area be excluded from the city). “I don’t have anything, but I pay taxes at the city’s mill rate.”
Laura Ciarniello, the city’s finance manager, has said McIvor Lake Road residents do not pay for sewer, water, garbage pick-up or any other city services they’re not receiving. Instead, property taxes go towards things all citizens benefit from such as public transit, policing, city roads, and recreational facilities. All city residents are charged a flat rate no matter where they live and that rate is applied to the value of a home, which is determined by the BC Assessment Authority.
But Tabarsi and his neighbours feel the city is not doing its job and collecting taxes from people who are being neglected.
“For the entire six months of a year I’m driving on a public road that’s only been graded once,” Tabarsi said. “It’s unbearable. Collecting our taxes and giving us minimal to no services, including a basic drivable road, is illegal, unethical and immoral.”
The three-kilometre road that circles McIvor Lake is paved for the first 500 metres off Highway 28 (Gold River Highway) then gravel the rest of the way. The road is used by local residents, BC Hydro and the Campbell River Ski Club. Tabarsi said in the winter the road is in especially bad condition and has described the road as looking like the “surface of the moon” because there are so many deep potholes. He said it’s so bad that he’s often driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid hitting the craters. In the summer the potholes aren’t as bad but dust is constantly kicked up.
“McIvor Lake Road is usually in extremely poor driving condition to the extend that it cannot be tolerated any longer by the residents,” wrote the residents in a letter to council in August. “Although we do understand the city’s economical difficulties, we do however believe that there is a minimum responsibility that should be fulfilled by any city such as Campbell River and this residential road access is one of them.”
The residents’ November letter demanding action from the city was on council’s agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting after the Mirror went to press.