Removing McIvor Lake Road properties from the city would not offer the benefits that the residents – who want out of the city – are looking for, according to city staff.
Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, said if the eight residential properties were not a part of the municipality the city would not be enticed to fix the road as street improvements are for the benefit of city residents.
“Removal of the McIvor Lake Road residents from the city boundaries would not introduce any new mechanism to upgrade the road from its current gravel status, and would in fact decrease the likelihood, the ability and any motivation for the city to undertake any upgrades to the gravelled portion,” Neufeld said in a report to council.
The three-kilometre long road that circles McIvor Lake is paved for the first 500 metres off Highway 28, and gravel the rest of the way. It’s that unpaved portion that has eight residents up in arms.
Aref Tabarsi, who has acted as a spokesperson for the McIvor Lake residents, said it’s appalling that he’s paying hefty taxes to the city and not receiving a proper roadway in return.
“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.”
Last summer, Tabarsi and his neighbours presented the city with a petition asking that council approve the removal of their properties from the city.
If approved, based on 2012 taxation levels, the city would lose $33,000 in taxation revenues.
City staff, however, were recommending council deny the request at Tuesday night’s council meeting, after the Mirror went to press.
Neufeld noted that the McIvor Lake properties’ tax bills do not include charges for water, sewer, garbage collection, recycling or yard waste pick up as those services are not provided in the area.
Neufeld said the property owners do pay property and parcel tax to the city, which includes taxes collected on behalf of the province, School District 72, the Strathcona Regional District, the Hospital Board and the Vancouver Island Regional Library.
“The concern about property tax levels is a common criticism of the property taxation model available for use by municipalities and regional districts,” Neufeld said. “The challenge is that property taxes levied are based solely on the value of the property with no correlation to the level of service provided or to the property owner’s ability to pay.”
McIvor Lake residents, through their property taxes, also pay for the city’s road network, public transit, the airport, city parks, and city recreational facilities – all things available to McIvor Lake residents.
“All of these services remain equally accessible to these property owners regardless of whether their properties are in or out of city limits, however, if their properties are removed from the city they would no longer be contributing towards their costs,” Neufeld said. “This situation that can occur as a result…is commonly referred to as ‘free ridership’ – a situation where property owners have access to municipal services without contributing financially towards them. This situation is not desirable as it places an unfair financial burden on city residents.”
Additionally, if the properties are removed from the city, fire protection will no longer be provided through the city, which will likely increase insurance premiums for McIvor Lake reidents.