Turf war might go to referendum

If the regional district board supports a bylaw to increase taxes to pay for a pair of lit artificial turf fields at Valley View Park, the Comox Valley United Soccer Club proposal would be decided by an alternate approval process or a referendum.

The CVRD recommends the proposal be forwarded to the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox and electoral area directors to determine support to increase taxes from four to eight cents per $1,000 assessed value — roughly a $6 to $24 increase for a $300,000 home — and borrowing about $3,315,000 for the project.

As it stands, the tax rate for the Comox Valley Track and Fields Service is $5.49 on a home assessed at $300,000.

The club is committing $800,000 to the $4.05-million proposal, which includes relocating two softball fields and annual maintenance costs. If the project receives the go-ahead, construction would begin in winter of 2012 and be completed by the summer.

"Ultimately it has to rest with voters," Courtenay director Larry Jangula said Tuesday at committee of the whole proceedings.

Area B director Jim Gillis, who likes soccer, is encouraged by the idea of parents forking out a bit of money to get their kids out of the house and onto the playing fields.

"This could almost be seen as economic development," said Courtenay representative Ronna-Rae Leonard, substituting for Murray Presley. She noted the marketing abilities of the organizing committee that has presented the project proposal to Courtenay Council and the district board.

The CVUSC is looking for approval in principle from the board, which will consider the matter further at its July 26 meeting.

Courtenay Council has given its approval in principle.

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The board unanimously approved a staff recommendation to reallocate $4,000 previously invested in a transit WiFi service to a contracted educator position. The purpose would be to develop a program to promote use of the transit system.

The CVRD had offered free WiFi service on certain bus routes since 2007. Use of the service has been limited due to changes in technology and has therefore been cancelled.

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A recommendation to request the Union of B.C. Municipalities to urge government to assume all responsibility for the provision and funding of victim services within the province met with board approval.

B.C. funds more than 150 victim service programs in police departments and community agencies throughout the province. These programs serve all types of victims and assist police in situations involving multiple injuries or deaths. As it stands, the CVRD funds victim services in the Valley.

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