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Incorporation: One Good Reason

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    September 5, 2017

If you need only one good reason to vote NO…

It is a fact that every municipality in BC struggles to pay for their increasing costs for infrastructure—roads, police, parks, fire protection, and so on. This puts a huge amount of pressure on their councils to either raise taxes, which everyone is resistant to, or to increase development significantly to bring in additional dollars. On Salt Spring, even the most well-intentioned council would eventually have to succumb. Bills need to be paid.

With our present, sometimes far from perfect, system of governance on Salt Spring, land use decisions are made by our Local Trust Committee members. Their decisions are not influenced in any way by the need to cover other costs related to infrastructure.

In Salt Spring’s case, I believe that road costs alone will be a great deal higher than the incorporation study indicated. So we already know that there would be terrific pressure on any council to increase development if only to cover these costs.

In my opinion, this is not scare-mongering; it is facing reality.

Yes, I can see some pluses to incorporation, and I’m not by nature resistant to change. I voted yes in the previous referendum. But back then I failed to understand clearly the huge value in separating land use decisions from those responsible for infrastructure.

To keep our island the special place it is, a NO vote is the most responsible vote. And then if the island chooses NO, we must work towards improvements with our current governance: adding two Islands Trust trustees, creating a six-person elected Local Community Committee to work with the CRD, and updating the Official Community Plan to reflect today’s wants and needs. And yes, all of these are legally possible.

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