Letter: response to July 10 story, "Supreme Court orders new election for Fire Board"

Wednesday, July 31 2019

Thank you for the cover article, “Supreme Court orders new election for Fire Board,” July 10 edition of the Sounder. Property owners requested the help of the BC Supreme Court to rectify a “democratic deficit” and got that help. It was a class act by the petitioners to wave recovery of legal costs allowed to them by the court even though the action was done in the interests of all Gabriola property owners.

A little financial/taxation history ahead of some voting. Fire Board property taxation rate for Area B (Gabriola, etc.) increased from 2005 to 2013 by 90 per cent ( primarily because of paying for a new fire hall, borrowing approved in 2012).

There are five large taxation categories: school at 35 per cent of total; rural at 10.3 per cent of total; Area B Nanaimo at 17.7 per cent of total; Gabriola Fire District at 14.5 per cent of total; and Islands Trust at 13.4 per cent of total.

School taxation is modest compared with a few other rural properties in BC.

Rural taxation is about the same as in other rural locations in BC.

Area B, RDN taxation is considerably different from place to place.

Fire protection taxation rates vary considerably with one even at zero.

Islands Trust taxation is only imposed on lands in the Trust.

On a total property tax rate (per $1,000 of valuation) it places Gabriola close to the top of the range, clustered around $5 per $1,000. Remove the taxes supporting the Islands Trust and we would end up on a par with Vancouver Island, etc.

Additional financial relief could come from a rollback of fire district taxes. The sharp increase in rates showed up in 2008 with a vote in 2012 to increase more and faster for repayment of fire hall borrowing. Borrowing to augment savings to date happened in March 2012. The total published budget for the new hall was $4.3 million.

For the above taxes we are responsible for our own sewer and water; we have had almost no road improvements done in the past 20 years; we have had no increase/improvements in ferry service in the same period but increases in fares; and we still are totally dependent upon BC Forest Service in the case of on island forest fire.

Perhaps adornments like a skatepark could stand aside while everyday matters that benefit all are taken care of.

~ Erik Andersen: Ratepayers