Adam Williams – Kamloops This Week
A public-assent process to determine the future of funding for the Upper Clearwater Community Hall will begin on Monday.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s (TNRD) board of directors voted Thursday to authorize a public-assent process by petition in the area, which will determine if the hall’s grant-in-aid service will be eliminated.
At issue in Upper Clearwater is a grant-in-aid derived from property taxes — and paid to the Upper Clearwater Farmers’ Institute, the owners of the hall, annually by the TNRD.
The grant-in-aid amounts to roughly $5,000 annually and has been collected since 2005.
The petitions for the public-assent process will be distributed on Monday. Each resident in Upper Clearwater will receive one petition for each property they own. Those who wish to eliminate the grant-in-aid must return completed petitions to the TNRD by noon on June 14.
In order for the grant-in-aid to be repealed, 50 per cent of the petitions totalling 50 per cent of the property value in the area must be returned to the TNRD — 58 petitions valued at $9,879,225.
Thursday’s board of directors vote to distribute the petitions was the final step in a process that began in January, aimed at determining if residents wished to continue providing funding to the hall.
The issue was brought to the TNRD’s attention by delegations representing both the Upper Clearwater Farmers’ Institute and a number of residents of Upper Clearwater. Though both sides presented differing opinions on the hall and its tenure in Upper Clearwater, they agreed the relationship between the two sides has become increasingly acrimonious.
A flawed process behind the original establishment of the grant-in-aid was detailed and the ensuing rift in the community led some board members to refer to the groups as the Hatfields and McCoys — two families involved in an infamous feud in the United States.
Following the delegations, the board decided to issue a non-binding survey to residents of the area, to determine if a public-assent process was warranted. The results of the survey, released on April 15, revealed a majority of respondents wished to do away with the tax, setting the table for the board to begin the petition process.
Roughly $92,000 in gas-tax revenue has been invested in renovations to the community hall during the past few years.
The $5,000 grant-in-aid equates to a tax of about $40 per year for the average-assessed property in the Upper Clearwater community. Without the yearly infusion of capital, the Farmers’ Institute has said the hall may close.