Almost two dozen people showed up at a public meeting in Lone Butte to find out more about the South Cariboo Joint Committee’s proposal to expand recreation services.
The presentation was made by Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Area L Director Bruce Rattray, backed up by CRD Area H Director Margo Wagner, District of 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall and all its four district councillors.
Rattray said he thinks this first community meeting (of four planned) “went well” in indicating initial public approval of the plan, which targets local arts and recreation in protecting some current facilities to ensure their long-term viability.
“Most of the people, I believe, understood what we are trying to achieve with this, in protecting the existing assets and making sure they are financially supportable by spreading out the tax base. They seemed to ‘get’ that, and think it was a good idea.”
In the presentation, he explained why the committee proposes Martin Exeter Hall Complex (MEHC) and the soccer fields be added to the CRD’s South Cariboo Recreation function, and the related impacts on area taxation.
“There were certainly some comments that people thought things like the soccer fields and [MEHC] were of significant value and worth investing in.”
The soccer fields are used by many local youth, and host championships that bring in numerous people from around the province.
“And, I know the Valley Room is of concern, keeping that operating, and … the hall, itself, is a big deal.”
Some concerns were expressed that some are better able to afford a “taxation load” added to property owners outside 100 Mile House but within the South Cariboo Recreation boundaries, he said.
The CRD currently collects taxes for recreation from South Cariboo property owners in the District of 100 Mile House and portions of Electoral Areas G, H and L.
However, statistics provided by the soccer association and performing arts council estimate about 85 per cent of the soccer participants and 65 per cent of Martin Exeter Hall users reside outside this taxation base, where property owners carry 100 per cent of the burden to maintain them.
Campsall said there are always people on both sides of an issues, but like Rattray, he found it “encouraging” that the majority was “definitely in favour of it.”
“When you are talking about a possible increase in taxation, that will always come up as number 1. I think that was the biggest thing – and the concerns of ‘is it going to referendum, and how?’ Those issues were there, and we were able to answer them all.”
He added the group was told “we are not 100 Mile House, we are not the [CRD], we are a community and we’ve got to continue to work as a community.”
“Even the ones who at first I thought were opposed, at the end of the night their comment was ‘yes, I agree this is the right thing to do’.”
The proposed changes would result in a residential tax rate increase of about $20 per $100,000 of the assessed value of land and improvements. The 2012 residential tax rate was $42 per $100,000, so this would increase to about $62 by 2014 at the earliest.
While these local governments maintain it is “reasonable and appropriate” that costs be shared by all residents that use the facilities, Rattray added some folks said they don’t use the recreation facilities and don’t want to pay for them.
They pointed to a past referendum for the South Cariboo Rec. Centre (SCRC), which they claimed Lone Butte voted against but “went through anyway” due to some other communities supporting it, but he downplayed the strength of that opposition.
“It started up early in the meeting, but it really didn’t dominate it.”
Overall, most folks indicated agreement with the plan once the overall scope was explained and their questions and concerns were addressed, Rattray added.
While some would still like to see a pool, and others oppose that, he noted this is not part of this public consultation or referendum, as the plan is to deal with the cost of maintaining existing facilities and services first.
Rattray said he was encouraged by the initial public support for the plan.
“It seemed to demonstrate that we were on the right track.”
Similar public meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 10 (Forest Grove Community Hall), on April 11 (108 Mile Ranch Community Hall) and April 22 (Creekside Seniors Activity Centre in 100 Mile House).
For more information or to comment on the proposed changes, attend a meeting or visit www.cariboord.bc.ca under the Services, Recreation links.