Opinion

Let the people vote on this constant parade of funding requests

We all now know why 14 of the 28 regional districts across the province do not have a regional grants-in-aid program.

They are simply to difficult to control when the need is great and the will power is weak.

The long list of historic and recent grant-in-aid dependents is being added to by a pleading for a regional arts and culture stipend — say a few hundred thousand a year, give or take a quarter-million here or there.

Does it sound good? Visionary?

That depends on how you feel about your property tax bill. The regional arts and culture manager, paid out of the Cowichan Theatre budget,  see’s a need for a greater and expanded  programming?

How much is already invested yearly in arts and culture at the theatre, and beyond? In 2013 the subsidy requisition was $1.174 million in property taxes from a slew of major and minor funding partners. — nearly two-thirds of the regional district member jurisdictions.

That’s right, $1,174 million, and rising year in, year out. Pretty artsy, quite cultured already, no?

Some would double that sum, particularly the steak and lobster crowd. Some would cut that in half — the hamburger and beans crowd. It depends on your priorities and your capacity to pay the bill.

It appears, and correctly, that there are several entities that are grant-in-aid dependent, with great need and no structured funding. They will have to ask the public at the next election, by referendum: will you feed me money year in year out going forward by creating a funding function under the Local Government Act?

They are the Cowichan Valley Arts Council partnered with the arts and culture program, the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre, Cowichan Green Community, the Cowichan Sportsplex, (my favourite) the Cowichan Hospice Society. As well, in Area E, the Cowichan Aquatic Centre is wanting about 250% more than we now pay — a truly unique referendum.

That’s right, about six or seven referendum questions, on separate funding requests, are likely on the ballot next election. Will that list grow or shrink? Who knows? By jurisdiction? By region? All in on some proposed functions, some out on some proposed functions?

I digress with this, but the Alternative Approval Process is a non-starter in my opinion.

Directors are being asked to play Santa or Scrooge each year with the ever expanding, and repetitive regional grant-in-aid requests. Soon it will be the electorate in the fall of 2014 who will get a say, by ballot.

I literally can’t wait for the answers, one way or another.

Let the chips of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ fall where they may, democratically — all six or seven of them.

Loren Duncan is the Cowichan Valley Regional District director Area “E”, Cowichan Station-Sahtlam-Glenora

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