Tax-supported safety service proposed for Salt Spring

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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.

4 Comments
  1. Mark Aston says

    I guess the RCMP have so much to do on island they can’t provide some community policing to deal with a spate of vandalism.

    Why should we have to pay higher taxes for support and services that should already be provided by the RCMP which we currently support through our taxes?

    A municipal police force might be an interesting option……..

  2. Paul Marcano says

    I absolutely agree with Mark above, and if we refer back to the old Citizens on Patrol (COPs) program of a few years ago, we should theoretically have even more senior citizens willing to volunteer a basic ‘walkabout’ to take note of any suspicious activity.

    The greater parallel issue here for me, as usual, is the endless nickel and diming of taxpayers by politicians using these stealthy little Alternative Approval Processes with their presumed YES, default position imposed on the community unless people take time out of their day to pick up a form and publically declare their NO vote. I seriously question how it violates the sanctity of one’s privacy and anonymity when casting a democratic vote. My position is generally to make the damned effort to vote NO on these AAPs on principle until politicians stop using them for getting easy taxing approvals for whatever purpose, almost always; to get more cash to prop up deficiencies in our local governance structure, something a majority of Islanders chose to persist with despite these deficiencies in representation. So, let it be, enough with the property tax increases!

  3. Lawrence says

    This is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The problem seems to be children breaking windows in town. Usually this kind of thing is done by drunken teenagers. They usually get over the thrill of being dickheads, and stop doing it.
    Anyway we don’t need a gang of security guards hanging around town. There is talk of this security group going after the parkies of Peace Park. Well, these people aren’t doing any harm, and have a right to sit around and chat in the sun. The RCMP can try and stop the glass breaking, that’s their job, and we pay our taxes to support them.
    If some people have dreamed up this silly idea because they don’t like the ”look” of the people in Peace Park they can get their butts back to Alberta.

  4. Greg Middleton says

    I would say this proposal is a good idea and badly needed. No the limited RCMP resources can’t patrol all of downtown Ganges all night,every night and night time is when the problems happen.
    A citizen’s patrol is an invitation to vigilantism and some potentially disastrous outcome. Even trained police can get into trouble when confronted with problem people.
    Cameras work . The cameras have cut down the problems on the docks, resulted in some arrests and solved a seriou issue involving a death last year.
    A small tax increase is a small price to pay

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