RDN should explore purchasing Coats property

Editorial

Tuesday, July 18 2017

Over 300 acres of Gabriola are for sale, including the Gabriola Golf Course and access to Hoggan Lake, as listed with Colliers International. There is an opportunity for Gabriola which could be explored here. One which involves the community purchasing the property and getting a value far beyond what any private owner could get.

The question is, is Electoral Area B willing to pay for it?

It would need to be through the Regional District of Nanaimo, as our local government which can hold title on land, in particular for park and recreational facilities.

Last year, the RDN purchased a park on Mudge Island with a five-year loan. A typical household in Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, Decourcy) is going to be paying $15.75 per year in RDN taxes to pay off that loan.

If the same terms of that loan were applied to purchase the Coats property, the average household on Gabriola would see an expensive increase per year.

But the RDN could get a 10-year loan, or a 20-year.

After 10 or 20 years, the community would outright own 300 acres of land, including the golf course, the industrial lot and marina on the south shore of Gabriola (across from Duke Point), and all of the land around Hoggan Lake.

Catch that? Hoggan Lake. Imagine, if there were public access to the lake.

And the dam itself, with potential for Gabriola to put electricity back into the grid. There is a lot of community potential.

To be clear, the RDN is not yet actively exploring this as an option, to the best of the Sounder’s knowledge.

The RDN should be. Even if it ends up being too expensive in the eyes of the community, there is a responsibility on the part of the RDN to look at an incredibly unique piece of gulf island property - which could have a huge value for the Gabriola community. We can’t say too expensive till we as how much it would be per household.

The Coats family have served as stewards of that property for decades, and deserve to be paid what the property is worth. This is not a request for any kind of donation on the part of the current ownership.

Yes - there would be long-term tax implications for ratepayers as well - maintenance of the various facilities. But if there are revenue opportunities within that, the RDN can certainly work to bring those on line.

If the tax increase can be brought down to even $100 for the average household ($8.30 per month, that’s basically a pint and a half of beer a month), the RDN should take a run at acquiring the property. When we need a referendum, as we most certainly will for a purchase of this magnitude, there’s a local government election coming in October of 2018.