Tax-supported safety service proposed for Salt Spring
After multiple incidents of vandalism and issues relating to community security on the island, Salt Spring’s Capital Regional District electoral area director Gary Holman will be seeking voter approval for a small tax requisition to fund a security service for the island.
“Basically it is to assist, administer, promote, organize, implement and monitor community safety initiatives and programs on Salt Spring,” Holman said. “It can range from security-type measures to community outreach supportive measures. There’s a pretty broad range of things that you could spend the money on.”
“The initiation was the vandalism and to some degree there seemed to be a civil disorder issue in the village. The Chamber [of Commerce] kind of took the issue and ran with it. They’ve been initiating a number of meetings over time to try to get the community together to resolve these issues,” Holman added. “There’s a gap in our services here, and I think it justifies establishing a separate service.”
The CRD Electoral Area Services Committee will give its recommendation on the bylaw to the CRD Board on Sept. 11. On the same day, the board will pass three readings of the bylaw, starting the approval process. The bylaw will also need to be approved by the provincial government, which will determine if it is within the scope of the CRD.
Since the new service would depend on a tax requisition, it needs to go to voters for approval. Holman explained that an alternative approval process will be used, which requires those who are against the establishment of the service to fill out a petition form. If 10 per cent of the electorate votes against the proposal, it will not pass. The process, formerly known as a counter-petition, is typically used when proposals already have community support and for smaller amounts of money. The petition will be available for 30 days after two public notices are presented.
“If you oppose the service, you sign a petition,” Holman explained. “The petitions will be located at a public venue so people, if they didn’t want the service to be established, they would come to that location and sign the petition against establishing the service.”
The maximum requisition for the service will be $68,000, and Holman explained that the initial tax will be much lower until the CRD has more experience with the service.
“Then over time as we become clearer about what our priorities are, then we could gradually increase the requisition,” he said.
Holman said a new commission would not be formed. Instead, an advisory group of stakeholders already set up by the Chamber of Commerce would inform how the money is spent. Stakeholders include the RCMP, Community Services, the Chamber of Commerce, businesses and Island Women Against Violence.
“If voters approve the service, then we would work with the stakeholder group, which would include the RCMP and organizations like Community Services, to determine how to start spending the money next year,” Holman said.
Though the funding could be used in theory for various different things, Holman said it would most likely fund something like a citizens’ patrol or increased resources for Community Services groups.