As a retired, longtime director of electoral Area F of the RDCK, and an active participant in the original construction committee of the present Nelson and District Community Complex I am delighted to see this windfall substantially reducing the taxation funding of $5.2 million previously approved and budgeted for by the RDCK.
As I recall this taxation is under the jurisdiction of the Nelson and Area Recreation Commission with taxation coming from the defined areas of the City of Nelson, all of Area F (basically Kokanee Park to and including Bonnington) and defined portion of Area E (basically Blewett, Mountain Station to Horlick’s Point) and is currently under discussion by the five appointed directors of the RDCK (three from city, one Area F and one defined Area E).
While, as a taxpayer, I do agree with some of the new allocations I understand are under consideration (facility reserves and heat exchanger project) I feel very strongly that taxpayers who are paying the bills should have the opportunity to voice their collective opinions in the form of a public meeting hosted by the directors of the Nelson and Area Recreation Commission prior to re-allocation of the surplus taxation of approximately $970,000 per year.
Perhaps a little history of the building of the current facility would be appropriate for not only the benefit of Nelson area newcomers but also some of the recently elected city councillors and RDCK directors. After the city went to two referendums in the mid-1990s and early 2000s which failed it was decided that a third referendum would be run by the RDCK with participants being as above (city and Area F and defined Area E) but the method of presenting the referendum would have the following rules of procedure:
A public committee was created of 10 to 12 taxpayers consisting of facility users, the business community, youth groups, senior groups, etc. from within the taxation area.
Their mandate was to have a series of public meetings and determine two key points for a referendum and a procedural change to be made for the public committee meetings.
1. What functions did the public want in the new facility?
2. What they were prepared to pay in taxation for the new facility?
The procedural change made was that none of the participating elected officials could attend these organizational meeting to influence the recommendations and this rule was followed.
The outcome was that what the public wanted in the new facility and were prepared to pay was approximately $4 million short so the decision was made to go to referendum for $10.4 million with the $4 million difference to come from non-taxation sources with the elected officials and communities of Nelson, RDCK Area F and defined Area E to raise the money from senior government grants and other solicitations, which was done.
I mention this mainly to support my earlier request that before allocating the surplus created by the wonderful gas tax rebate funding the current stakeholders/decision makers offer the same opportunity to the taxpaying residents and the facility users. Before allocating the surplus, have direct consultation with the guys and gals paying the bills.
Time is of the essence but if it is important to our elected officials it can be done and you might be pleasantly surprised at the potential outcomes by showing this common courtesy.
Al Dawson, Electoral Area F