Comox still holding out on referendum participation

Town currently has its own fund for addressing homelessness

  • Aug. 24, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record staff

In hopes of having council reconsider the opportunity to join the homeless service (and subsequent  referendum), Betty Tate and Helen Boyd presented council with the initial draft of a five-year plan to end homelessness in the Comox Valley.

Earlier this month, Comox Valley Regional District directors unanimously approved a recommended date of Nov. 28 for a referendum to address homelessness.

The question will ask voters if they favour a bylaw to establish a service to provide funds to one or more non-government organizations, based on a plan to address homelessness.

During the last civic election, a non-binding question indicted 71 per cent of voters supported at least a $5 annual property tax.

Tate and Boyd noted under the current resolution, Comox could not participate in the referendum or service, as the town has established a fund (currently $30,000/year which comes from general revenue) for the function of addressing homelessness, and would instead partner with service providers on its own.

Participating jurisdictions would be Courtenay, Cumberland, Area A (excluding Denman and Hornby Islands) and Areas B and C.

Coun. Barbara Price (one of the town’s CVRD representatives) asked council to revisit the initial motion, as Boyd urged council that a change in their participation should ideally be made sooner than later, due to CVRD deadlines.

“There’s a whole bunch of stuff that we need answers to,” said Coun. Ken Grant, who added he would like to see a staff report of the implications of joining the CVRD’s homeless initiative.

Coun. Russ Arnott agreed.

“I feel a little uneasy. I kind of feel under the spotlight to make a decision; I think we’re rushing into something, and I’d like to have a little bit more information.”

Mayor Paul Ives reminded council under town bylaws, a decision by council would have to be unanimous, and noted if the motion passes, council would have very little say as to how the town’s money gets used.

The motion was defeated, and Ives suggested a new motion to direct staff to research the matter of participation in the RD’s initiative, and if necessary, council could call a special meeting to vote on a motion prior to the RD’s deadline.

The second motion was approved unanimously.

Rainbow sidewalk report presented

With an estimated cost of $14,000, Comox council accepted a report by staff for the possibility of a rainbow crosswalk and have forwarded the information to the Comox citizen who first brought the idea to council.

At the July 15 council meeting, Comox resident Wendell Hoyseth asked council to consider the possibility of installing a rainbow crosswalk on Beaufort Avenue at Church Street.

In his letter, Hoyseth said since it’s been 10 years since same-sex marriage was made legal nationwide, other cities have made statements of acceptance and support on their pavement, and asked the town to do the same.

He added if approved, he would be willing to organize and contribute to both labour and fundraising of the crosswalk.

In consultation with other jurisdictions such as Victoria and Vancouver, the estimated cost would consist of $9,000 for the paint and $5,000 of in-house costs to grind out the existing crosswalk, prepare the area and for associated traffic control.

In his report, Richard Kanigan, the town’s chief administrative officer, noted another issue to consider would be the ongoing maintenance of the product, as New Westminster indicated a recent graffiti incident on their crosswalk was dealt with easily as the paint was power washed without damage.

The City of Victoria on the other hand, he added, is dealing with skid marks only two months after installation, and staff is unsure how to deal with the damage.

 

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