Courtenay council

Courtenay council

Courtenay council calls on B.C. to defer old-growth logging

Courtenay council approved a resolution from Will Cole-Hamilton to request the B.C. government to defer logging in old-growth forests — as recommended by the Old-Growth Strategic Review — until all 14 panel recommendations have been implemented. Deferrals include at-risk, old-growth forests in the headwaters of Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew and in the Upper Walbran Valley.

Cole-Hamilton notes the Comox Valley Youth Council had asked elected officials to support the resolution.

“As was stated in the resolution, the B.C. government and First Nations leadership are on record as supporting the recommendations, which include a call for immediate deferrals of logging,” Cole-Hamilton said at the May 3 meeting. “The Premier committed to implementing the report in its totality…However, more than a year after the report was submitted, no deferrals have occurred, and the recent B.C. budget showed no allocation of the funds that would be needed to allow for the deferrals to occur in a just fashion.”

“It’s so emotional, I think, for all of us to see a tree that’s 500-, 1,000-years-old, get cut down for a few dollars, and to realize that we’ll never see that again,” Coun. David Frisch said.

Cole-Hamilton notes the regional district board and Cumberland council have agreed to write to the province to request the actions that are set out in this resolution.

“I believe that it’s a useful gesture to add our voice to the other councils, and particularly the young people who are expressing this concern,” Coun. Doug Hillian said.

Good food program

Council approved $60,000 to support the Good Food Box program run by the LUSH Valley Food Action Society. The money will help provide 2,400 food boxes to vulnerable households in need due to COVID-19.

The $60,000 will come from $200,000 in Restart Funding for unexpected costs and revenue losses.

At the previous meeting, council asked staff to clarify how much money Comox and the regional district had committed to the program. Staff confirmed that $25,000 requested by Comox is pending confirmation, and $35,000 has been confirmed by the Community Foundation via the CVRD.

Since last year, LUSH Valley has been operating a hot meal delivery and the food box program out of the lower Filberg Centre kitchen and lounge for the short-term. The in-kind value is about $55,000 from April 2020 to April 2021.

2021 tax rates

Council adopted the 2021 tax rate bylaw. For a house assessed at $475,915, the property owner is looking at an increase of only $13, or 0.37 per cent, when all other government taxes are taken into account. For commercial owners, the estimated increase to a property worth $883,590 is $263.62, only for the city portion of taxes. The commercial class encompasses a wide range of businesses and assessment valuations.

MRDT funds

Council received a letter from a group representing hotels in Courtenay that is concerned about the management of the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) fund.

Considering changes to the Destination Marketing organization (the Comox Valley Economic Development Society), the group is concerned about “several timely and potentially missed opportunities.” Of primary importance is its desire to move from a two to three per cent tax in order to promote tourism marketing, programs and projects for the city.

“We actually might have an opportunity to do this if we act now and meet the May 2021 deadline,” the letter states.

The group recommends that Tourism Vancouver Island manage the MRDT fund. It also asked the city or regional district to take control of the TVI contract, and to designate TVI as its Destination Marketing organization for the remaining period of their two-year contract.

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