Everyone was onboard with the Shuswap Watershed Council’s water quality monitoring program.
How to pay for it was the basis of much discussion at an Aug. 20 on-the-road meeting of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board in Golden.
Directors approved a Shuswap Watershed Water Quality Service Establishment Bylaw, but not the way staff recommended.
Staff had recommended an assessment-based tax which, based on the average assessed value of 1,700 parcels in the District of Sicamous and electoral areas C, D, E and F, would have been $10.30 annually for the average household.
“But after some discussion, the board determined the preferred method to be a parcel tax,” said CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton. “The differential between a parcel tax and a property value tax for the average assessed residential property was minimal, in fact slightly lower for the assessment scheme.”
Salmon Arm will make an annual contribution of $40,000 for three years through an arrangement, but will do so through their own taxation process.
CSRD would enter into a similar contract with the Thompson Nicola Regional District, but no timeframe has been set yet.
The bylaw was given three readings and will now go to the Ministry of Sport and Cultural Development for approval.
After the approval is obtained, the CSRD has to initiate an alternative approval process (APP).
“That will commence after we receive approval and everyone will have the opportunity to petition against the tax if they don’t support it,” said Hamilton. “Staff recommended the APP process given that in the larger scheme of things, the annual requisition is not overly significant and there appears to be broad public support for the water quality program generally.
If more than 10 per cent of those eligible to file a petition against the initiative do so, CSRD will be unable to proceed with the bylaw.
“In such circumstances, the decision for the CSRD would be to go to a full-scale referendum,” Hamilton says.