With a new arts centre in the offing, many Hornby Island residents are getting behind a plan to raise operating revenue through tax funding.
In September, members of the Hornby Island Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (HIRRA) met virtually to discuss issues such as their core services budget, but one of the key items was approving support for the funding. A motion to postpone was defeated, and when the item came up to provide the Hornby Island Arts Centre with a letter of support, it passed.
“This was the third-largest HIRRA meeting on record,” HIRRA executive administrator Reina LeBaron told the Record via email. “The largest was the 2002 AGM with 175 people participating.”
Hornby Arts had sent an email request asking people to attend and support the request for a letter of support for the tax, which is to raise $20 for every $500,000 of assessed property value to provide secure operating funds for the new facility.
“This vote will protect all the fun things to come when construction is done: programming, after school programs, exhibitions, festivals, performances, markets, workshops, residencies—you name it. It will ensure lights-on access for all, all year long,” the email said.
The Sept. 8 meeting was held via and used its maximum of 100 participants, though some shared screens. The official turnout was 114 people, including six new members. LeBaron said the executive is considering expanding the Zoom account to accommodate more people if needed.
“Some members were unable to participate because of our Zoom account limit of 100 people or because they had inadequate internet connection,” she added.
Generally, for electoral areas in the Comox Valley Regional District, when a large proposal is being considered, funding the item needs electoral assent. A current case is a proposal for high-speed internet for Hornby and Denman Island, for which the CVRD held open houses on Oct. 6 and 7 in preparation for a referendum on the service on Nov. 27.
Area A director Daniel Arbour, who represents Hornby as part of his electoral area, notes there is already a mechanism in place within the regional district that could be available for Hornby’s arts funding.
“We may not need to create a new service,” he said.
Arbour explained, heritage funding has been approved to provide a revenue stream for the community to provide small grants, which now could provide the mechanism for revenue for the arts centre’s operating funds. However, he stressed the importance of hearing from the community.
“The CVRD will be looking for strong support from the island,” he said. “We’re just trying to make sure there’s public engagement.”
While the HIRRA motion to support arts funding through property taxation passed easily, it was by no means unanimous as 37 people opposed it, with 66 voting in favour. Another six were not eligible to vote. With a funding mechanism in place though, the process should be able to move ahead more quickly and without a referendum. As for the capital costs of the new centre, the community has been raising funds as well as applying for grants in recent years to raise money.