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Sahtlam/Glenora get ‘not-so-fast’ two-tier pool fee answer

The mayors of North Cowichan and Duncan say an offer by Director Loren Duncan needs work before they will waive two-tier pool fees for users from Cowichan Station, Sahtlam and Glenora. - Andrew Leong/file
The mayors of North Cowichan and Duncan say an offer by Director Loren Duncan needs work before they will waive two-tier pool fees for users from Cowichan Station, Sahtlam and Glenora.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Horse trading is expected about Glenora area’s bid to dive into pool funding, and scrub two-tier user fees currently faced by Area E swimmers.

“Negotiations are ongoing at various levels,” North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure said, lukewarm to a Jan. 9 pool-funding offer to regional brass from Area E (Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora) Director Loren Duncan.

“There are no specific meetings lined up, but as soon as possible, we’d like to get Area E residents in (as funding partners) for the whole year of 2013,” said Lefebure.

However, accepting Area E as a funding partner in pool operations should be based on pool-use figures, not Loren Duncan’s property assessment numbers, Lefebure and city Mayor Phil Kent indicated.

Duncan’s offer — concerning the $20-million Cowichan Aquatic Centre built in 2008 by North Cowichan and Duncan taxpayers — would see his area pay $2.67 per $100,000 of assessed property value toward pool operation.

That’s the same deal struck with south-end taxpayers, but those taxpayers collectively use the pool at a rate more than double Area E.

Kent says Area E’s discounted rate should be $6.93 per $100,000, totalling $49,074.

His pool-partner response letter explains all use numbers should eventually be updated, and contributions adjusted.

“Council felt we have to protect our taxpayers as well,” Kent said of the city paying $120,000 a year in operating and capital costs. “We’ve asked the CVRD to look at Area E’s offer, and the city’s response.”

Loren Duncan’s offer involves making Area E a pool partner in the 2014 budget.

Still, his area would pay this year’s contribution, to sink two-tier fees, through a grant-in-aid pending a formal alternate approval process — or possibly a referendum.

“The two-tier funding mechanism was an ongoing irritant between the North Cowichan-operated pool and Area E residents,” Duncan tells the Cowichan Valley Regional District board.

Ideally, the mayors favoured finally creating an elusive regional-recreation formula to best measure taxpayer contributions to Cowichan’s various facilities.

“We hope in the long-term, regional recreation rates will be based on useage,” said Lefebure, whose taxpayers toss about $1.4 million annually in to pool operation.

“(Useage) seems an excellent way to allocate costs. Those living farther away could pay a smaller amount, though (rates) wouldn’t be based on distance, but usage numbers. That’s what the CVRD board has accepted as the best way to tell who uses what facility.”

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