Courtenay Elementary was one of several voting locations in Saturday’s homelessness referendum.

Homelessness referendum passes

1,617 residents voted in favour of the tax while 1,433 said no.

  • Nov. 30, 2015 4:00 p.m.

Scott Stanfield

Record staff

Saturday’s referendum regarding a tax to address homelessness in the Comox Valley passed by less than 200 votes. The regional district posted the official count Monday afternoon as 1,617 residents voting in favour of the tax while 1,433 said no.

The question asked voters if they favour a bylaw to establish a service to provide funds to one or more non-government organizations (NGOs) to deliver services to assist homeless individuals, based on a five-year plan.

The Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness will work with non-profits to develop the plan.

“The coalition is happy with this positive result for the second time,” said group member Helen Boyd, noting a non-binding question at the last civic election had indicated 71 per cent of voters support at least a $5 annual property tax.

“Our five-year plan is already established, and really focuses on providing housing and the necessary supports for people who are homeless. It is not focused on administrators. It is truly providing housing and support services directly to the non-profit agencies that are going to be the leads on the project. So there’s something tangible there that will be presented at the end of the first year.”

One of the coalition’s plans is to develop a support service, multi-purpose room at the Washington Apartments, which BC Housing has purchased. Other first-year goals are to create two new units of transitional housing at Amethyst House — a residential facility for women operated by the Comox Valley Transition Society — and four beds at the Comox Valley Recovery Centre for men.

“The plan is always evolving,” Boyd said. “It’s the whole continuum of housing.”

She notes the coalition will continue to advocate at all levels of government and with other sectors. It also meets with BC Housing, which handles provincial funding.

“The coalition has done an enormous amount of work off the side of our desk,” Boyd said.

“We think we can truly make a difference because many people are on the same page on this. This positive vote is one step that’s going to help us make that difference…This small tax will have a big impact.”

At the tax rate of two cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, the owner of a residential property assessed at $300,000 would pay $6 per year.

The amount collected from commercial properties depends on a tax multiplier set by the provincial government. Funding could be available by March. Participating jurisdictions are Courtenay, Cumberland, Area A (excluding Denman and Hornby Islands), and Areas B and C. Comox, which has established a $30,000/year fund for the function of addressing homelessness, intends to redirect its money to the regional homelessness service.

Official referendum results will be announced by Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. The CVRD board — which needs to adopt the bylaw to implement the tax — will consider the next steps at its Dec. 15 meeting.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley Community Foundation hands out record amount of grant money

The Comox Community Centre the foundation handed out $330,000 to local organizations Tuesday.

Comox Valley school district planning Climate Action Conference for students

The voices of Comox Valley youth on the topic of climate change… Continue reading

Funder for Down Under in Courtenay raises thousands for Australia

Organizers still tallying up proceeds but expect to donate at least $8,000

Fourteen Comox Valley kids get bikes through Share the Ride

Several businesses combine efforts to get bikes and other cycling gear

Comox Valley artist’s mask heading to prestigious U.S. museum

John and Peggy Varnedoe purchased the piece and have donated it to the Burke Museum in Seattle.

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Thieves are targetting Comox Valley strata storage units

Criminals in the Comox Valley have been targeting storage units at condominium… Continue reading

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Most Read