Who should pay what for recreational and cultural facilities is an argument that has raged almost as long as who started the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The City of Courtenay is raising the issue again after a “facilitator” commissioned more than two years ago to investigate the issue presented a draft report recently.
The draft report ordered by the Comox Valley Regional District is making the rounds at council meetings in Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland for feedback.
The question, since just the exhibition grounds and the sports/aquatic centre are jointly funded by all property owners in the Comox Valley, is whether an adjustment needs to be made.
The problem is that the bulk of the cultural and recreational facilities serving the region are in Courtenay, sparking the city’s desire for what it calls more equitable contributions from all jurisdictions.
Why, in other words, should Courtenay taxpayers pay extra to operate the Sid Williams Theatre, Comox Valley Art Gallery and Florence Filberg Centre, when these popular facilities are used by people from outside the city?
For that matter, is it fair to taxpayers in any of the three local municipalities when people who live in the regional district use facilities other than the aquatic/sports centre and the exhibition grounds?
The City of Courtenay would prefer a tax structure that accounts for the fact it operates more facilities than anybody else.
Another way to do it might involve an adjustment to the user-pay part of the equation. What about a card that comes with the City of Courtenay tax bill qualifying the holder to a discount at select facilities?
Maybe that’s too much work for city staff, expense to create the tickets and a loss of revenue from discounts. Maybe not.
Assuming taxpayers have a responsibility to pay for civic facilities whether they use them or not, this would at least directly cut a break for the Courtenay people who use services.