Residents living along McIvor Lake Road say they’re frustrated with paying city taxes and being neglected by the city.
To pull the area out of the City of Campbell River.
“Why am I paying taxes as if I live in Willow Point or downtown?” says Aref Tabarsi, who spoke to the Strathcona Regional District’s Committee of the Whole Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t have anything, but I pay taxes at the city’s mill rate.”
Tabarsi says he paid $14,000 in taxes last year and he doesn’t get basic city services such as garbage pick-up, sewer, and running water.
But the thing that gets him the most is the neglect of McIvor Lake Road. Tabarsi says the gravel road up to his home was graded only once this winter and two or three times in the summer.
“For the entire six months of a year I’m driving on a public road that’s only been graded once. It’s unbearable,” Tabarsi says. “Collecting our taxes and giving us minimal to no services, including a basic drivable road, is illegal, unethical and immoral.”
The road is three kilometres long – the last 500 metres is gravel and the rest is paved. The road is used by seven local residents, BC Hydro and the Campbell River Ski Club.
Tabarsi says in the winter there are so many potholes that the road looks like the surface of the moon. In the summer there aren’t as many potholes but instead constant dust kicked up by public traffic.
“I can’t walk. I would never go for a walk – it’s impossible,” Tabarsi says. “It’s not safe for my car to drive on the potholes so I’m always on the wrong side of the road trying to avoid the potholes. It’s unacceptable.”
Tabarsi made a presentation to city council about nine months ago to discuss the condition of McIvor Lake Road, and at that time residents had discussed paying to pave the road themselves.
But Tabarsi doesn’t think that’s fair and says the city has the responsibility to maintain all its roads.
“I can’t believe the City of Campbell River expects me to pave the road,” Tabarsi says. “Don’t you already get enough from me? $14,000 in taxes last year. It’s frustrating. I feel like I’m being held hostage. I want to get out of the City of Campbell River. I’ve had it.”
Director Claire Moglove said Tabarsi doesn’t pay for city services in his taxes.
“If you don’t receive sewer service, it’s not part of your taxes; same as water, same as garbage collection,” Moglove said. “Every resident has the same mill rate. The value you pay is based on the assessment (by B.C. Assessment Authority) of your house. The municipality is limited by how it can assess taxes.”
Moglove said if residents wanted to be excluded from Campbell River, that would be up to the city. If the city agreed to let the residents leave, it would have to make a request to the provincial government to reduce the municipality.
Tom Yates, corporate services manager for the regional district, confirmed it would be out of the regional district’s hands.
If the McIvor Lake Road residents were to leave they would likely join Area D, (Oyster Bay-Buttle Lake) south of Campbell River. Directors confirmed the mill rate is lower in Area D, but told Tabarsi he would still be without garbage and sewer services from the city.
“That’s fine,” responded Tabarsi.
“I imagine it would be my area you would come into. I have to say it’s refreshing it’s going the other way for a change,” said Brenda Leigh, Area D Director. “We get our road maintenance from the Ministry of Transportation and it’s not perfect either. We do have the province cover the cost of maintaining the roads, and the service is efficient.”