A counterpetition process is now asking people in the Kootenay Outlet area if they are willing to pay for recreation programming through their tax dollars.
Residents of communities including Balfour, Harrop, Procter, Longbeach, and Queens Bay presently receive recreation through a community development grant provided annually since 2014 by Area E regional director Ramona Faust.
However, she says the grant is not intended to provide continuous funding to a particular service.
“But the programs the community put on with the funds were so popular and important that we’ve continued to roll that grant funding from year to year,” she says.
Using taxation instead would “add permanence” to the service. “With grant funds, the board or any director can decide they won’t be using the grants for that purpose.”
A service to fund recreation already exists in the area, but it was created in the 1960s and only provides $1,000 per year.
What is being considered now would raise the amount to $37,289 in 2023, going up to $38,235 in 2024, and $39,190 in 2025. For a home assessed at $500,000, it would mean an extra $22.11 in taxes annually next year, going up to $22.68 and then $23.24.
Any residents who oppose that increase can sign a counterpetition form between now and Aug. 1. If at least ten per cent of electors (pegged at 208 people) express their objections in writing, the regional district will have to rethink what to do.
Faust says with the pandemic, and now with increased gas prices, “having recreation opportunities close to home for families, seniors, kids is becoming even more important.”