Opinion

Skeena - Queen Charlotte Regional District not the one to blame

Mayor Jack Mussallem seems to have a real bee in his bonnet when it comes to the Skeena — Queen Charlotte Regional District.

While some of his targeted rants can make you shake your head in disbelief, it would be tough to argue that he doesn't have a point when it comes to the money Prince Rupert taxpayers pay for the regional district compared to the services taxpayers receive.

In fact, it would be even tougher to argue that the taxpayers of Prince Rupert aren't subsidizing other communities in the region. I don't think anyone sees 75 per cent of services happening here, despite roughly 75 per cent of the administration coming from Prince Rupert.

The reality is Prince Rupert taxpayers, and those in other municipalities, are being hit up twice for services those in some rural areas are only paying for once. Residents in Prince Rupert pay taxes to the city for road maintenance, water, sewer and the cost of operating the landfill. They then pay money to the regional district, which cares for road maintenance, water and sewer in rural areas and the cost of operating the landfill on Haida Gwaii.

So while Prince Rupert taxpayers pay both the city and regional district to look after roads, water and sewer, those in places like Sandspit only pay once.

The problem with Mayor Mussallem's targeted approach to saving taxpayers money is that it is aimed in the wrong direction.

This double-dipping isn't exclusive to the SQCRD, nor is the idea of larger municipalities covering the costs of services in rural areas. And those sitting at the table really have no say in the matter ­— they are given a mandate and a set of rules from the provincial government and their job is to achieve that mandate and follow those rules.

The mayor's venom should not be directed at the regional district but rather at the provincial government. It will be the government that is going to institute change, not the directors of the regional district.

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