Incorporation Study Update – March 21

By Dave Cunliffe, Chamber of Commerce President
(this is an excerpt from his Kicker article for April ’17)

As I wrote last month, I am personally a member of the incorporation committee.  The Chamber resolved to take a neutral position on the issue but did agree to help with getting out information to the community.  As a result, our web page has been used to post information and all North Shuswap residents are encouraged to view it.

A meeting was held on March 16th between the incorporation committee and our local government represented by Director Morgan, the chief administrative officer, the managers of development services, financial services, and operations.

It was made clear that there is no support for an incorporation study.  The reasons given were that incorporation isn’t financially feasible, there has been mounting opposition from the public, staff is too busy, and that the senior managers are willing to work with the group to address how concerns can be addressed within the current regional district model.

There was no recognition that the 240 letters in favour of a study were a legitimate expression of support.  There were comments that only 80 of the letters were from Scotch Creek and that the opinions of other residents of the North Shuswap shouldn’t have any bearing.  It was pointed out that Scotch Creek was identified as the primary settlement area in our official community plan and the health of Scotch Creek is vital to the overall health of the entire North Shuswap.

So, what did the meeting accomplish?

First, our regional government is willing to move forward with developing a grant application for the start of a community water system in Scotch Creek.  The incorporation group has prepared a conceptual plan to bring water service to the west side of Scotch Creek and given it to operations management.  The next round of grants from the provincial and federal government is in March 2018 so we have a timeline to work with.

The manager of development services is willing to meet with representatives of the group to look at the issue of how regulations can be streamlined to speed up approvals for things like building and development permits.  The meeting is scheduled for April 6th.

The chief administrative officer also suggested that we bring a delegation to the board to talk about our concerns for the future of Scotch Creek and how we think the board can be more responsive to our needs.

Our local government representatives have heard what our concerns are and have made commitments to try to address them.  The group will work with local government to see if positive change can be affected and we appreciate the opportunity.  After all, the motivation to examine incorporation is being driven by a desire to see Scotch Creek prosper.

And the next question, is the move to have an incorporation study carried out dead in the water?  I don’t think so.

I believe we still need to have the study done so residents can make an informed choice as to whether incorporation makes any sense.  The chief administrative officer suggested we look at the recently completed Salt Spring Island incorporation study.  It can be found at http://www.ssiincorporationstudy.com/final-report/ .

It was a good suggestion and I’ve included an outline of the report.

Section 1   provides an introduction to the Report, including a description of What Prompted this Study, its purpose, the geographical boundary of the area included, the Study Committee and process, and key considerations used in the financial analysis.

Section 2   provides a profile of Salt Spring Island, including basic information on population, housing, property assessment, economy and labour force, agriculture, environmental protection and green space, publicly owned assets, and sense of community.

Section 3   provides an overview of the current governance system.

Section 4   presents the potential changes to representation and decision-making if Salt Spring Island were to incorporate.

Section 5   provides a detailed review of potential changes to service delivery and cost impacts if Salt Spring Island were to incorporate.  Risks and opportunities are identified for each service under each form of governance.  For each of 23 services, the information is presented in a summary format (which also attached to the Executive Summary) followed by a detailed explanation of key elements.

Section 6   reviews potential changes to government revenue if Salt Spring Island were to incorporate.

Section 7   identifies the consolidated financial impacts of municipal incorporation.

Section 8   identifies potential changes to property taxation if Salt Spring Island were to incorporate and provides the projected tax impacts of municipal incorporation.

Section 9   examines the risks, opportunities and uncertainties (or variable factors) associated with both the current governance system and the incorporation option.

Section 10   reviews the process of creating a new municipality, should Salt Spring Island choose to incorporate.

These are the same questions that most people have about what the incorporation of Scotch Creek might mean.  I think it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that the request to local government was only to support a study, not to incorporate Scotch Creek.

Tell us what you think at http://scotchcreekbc.ca/

Or comment below…

Letters of Support Received – Still need more

Thanks to all who have provided letters outlining your interest in the Incorporation Study. In a nutshell, 97.4% of the letters we received are in favour of going ahead with the study. There were many reasons given with the top 3 being local control and planning, lack of development & opportunities, our tax dollars should stay local.

There were a few letters in opposition as well, 2.6%. It looks like the big concern here is concern about tax increases, lack of information, and the concern that those working in favour of the study are just in it for themselves.

We have posted a statistical summary of the letters received, on our website. If you wish to see the letters themselves, please email us.

We can still use more, and whether you’re for or against the study, your input is valuable. Here is a blank letter that you could use.

Letters of Support needed

We need your help.

In order to show the various ministries and agencies that the North Shuswap population is serious about having this study done, we need letters of support. Just below you’ll find links to general information about the study as well as a template letter of support. You can print that out, fill it out with your own reasons why, or why not, you are supportive of the Incorporation Study.

Please drop them off at any of the Kicker boxes at Ross Creek Store, Sunnyside Supermarket, SuperValu, Peoples Drugs or Century 21.

Notes on Incorporation

Local Incorporation Question & Answers

Blank Letter of Support

CSRD Response and next steps

It was disappointing to receive a flat rejection from the CSRD regarding our request to have them support a Governance Study for the North Shuswap. Certainly, it was not unexpected. This is not the final word on the subject. It is just the beginning of the process.

We have meetings coming up with MLA Greg Kyllo, MP Mel Arnold, and we will be sitting down with the CSRD to discuss where we might go from here. We’ve been 20+ years in the lead up to this point, we now have a report that says we can do it. Our goals are to get some positive action in Scotch Creek and more control over decisions being made on the North Shuswap. We will not stop until this is accomplished, or the community of the North Shuswap tells us to quit.