The SRD 2020-2024 budget includes extensive renovations to the Strathcona Gardens complex. Campbell River Mirror file photo.

Strathcona Regional District spending up 20 per cent

Strathcona Gardens project majority of budget increase

The Strathcona Regional District approved their 2020 budget last week, which sees a 20 per cent increase in spending over 2019.

The total tax requisition will be up 8.2 per cent over 2019, amounting to a total of $12,947,530 which will be split differently among the electoral areas and municipalities.

Expenses this year will be roughly $42.7 million for the whole district, which supports services including parks, recreation, utilities, transit, waste management and emergency protection services.

That is up from the $35.7 million budgeted in 2019. That 20 per cent is almost entirely accounted for by the $7.8 million major upgrade to the Strathcona Gardens facility, which brings the facility’s budget up by roughly $5 million over last year.

The SRD will be funding the project through reserves and grants, though those items are included in the financial plan.

The facility’s tax funding comes from Campbell River and Electoral Area D.

Other smaller increases account across the system also helped raise the costs of the district. In all, the budget will be

Generally, property taxes in the district will be rising to varying degrees, with the exception of the village of Sayward, and the village of Zeballos.

Electoral areas will see the biggest jump in their taxes, ranging from $18.57 per average household for Kyuquot to $160.10 per average household for Cortes Island.

Municipalities have fewer taxes that go to the SRD, as many of their services are provided by the municipal governments. Electoral area taxes cover all services for that area.

The jump for Cortes Island is notable, but the island has been investing in some large projects that will be reflected in the finances. The funds will largely go to the new first responder position and a new community hall on the island.

Paying for aging infrastructure is one of the main reasons for the higher budget. SRD chair Michele Babchuk said in a release that “We have aging infrastructure that requires real investment in order to meet the changing demands of our constituents.

“The Regional District will continue to capitalize on grant opportunities to help keep taxes low while improving its service delivery.”

The release lists participation in the Strathcona Community Health Network, the Connected Coast high speed internet project, water and sewer infrastructure upgrades and a wharf refurbishment as the “large projects” it invests in.

Financial planning at the district feeds from their strategic priorities, set out earlier in the year. Those priorities are community well-being, service delivery, the environment and relationships.

Taxes, calculated per average household, in Campbell River will be rising $26.58 , Gold River sees $2.04 on average, Sayward will be decreasing by $2.75 , Tahsis is up $0.96 , Zeballos is down $0.58, Electoral Area A near Sayward (not including the village) are up $27.09, Area A Kyuquot go up $18.57, Electoral Area B – Cortes Island is up $160.10, Electoral area C – Discovery Islands and Mainland Inlets are up $77.44 and Electoral Area D – Buttle Lake is up $75.36. These numbers may vary depending on assessed value and land use.

More information and the full financial plan are available on the SRD website.

This story has been edited for clarity.