Area C’s harbour rates were again a topic of heated discussion at the Town of Port McNeill’s council meeting last week.
“When did we become second-class citizens compared to the people of Port McNeill?” asked Hyde Creek resident Peter Rice. “I support (Port McNeill’s) coffee shops, restaurants, sporting goods stores, the gas pumps. Why should we be expected to pay more? We’re bringing money into the town.”
Mayor Shirley Ackland said council has had quite a bit of discussion about the rates previously. “We had four meetings, two of them were public consultations, and what we had heard was the residents of Port McNeill expected a deal if they were going to be paying taxes to the town to look after the harbour. Should the harbour not do well, it’s their taxes that are going to pay for that.”
Rice said his dollars “have been supporting this town for over 35 years. I find this to be absolutely ridiculous.”
Ackland replied council “had to decide where we draw the line… what we heard and have evidence of is the people that are residents here are the one’s wanting a deal.”
Ackland added the harbour rates are reviewed every year, and the boating season is just beginning so the bylaw won’t be reopened.
Steven Cahill, owner/operator of Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters, commented that Hyde Creek and Nimpkish Heights residents are “apparently not residents of Port McNeill, nor apparently does the amount of tourism money we bring into this town matter.”
Ackland said this is “not a coffee shop conversation,” that council meetings are a legal proceeding where they do the business of the town.
Port McNeill Chamber of Commerce President Gaby Wickstrom said she hoped the town would one day hold a coffee shop- style conversation. “These are people who are saying we want to work with you, give you ideas… and we want to help you achieve your goals. If we could have a coffee shop-style meeting facilitated properly that would be awesome.”