By Alex Rinfret-Here’s some good news for islands taxpayers: the regional district, currently working on this year’s budget, isn’t planning to raise taxes for at least the next five years.
Administrator Janet Beil said the budget is not complete yet, but directors have been clear that they want to keep the budget pared down to essentials, given the poor condition of the northwest economy.
“I don’t project any tax increases for the next five years,” Ms Beil said.
The regional district’s biggest budget item is the islands garbage system. It is also responsible for Queen Charlotte’s water and sewer system, as well as land use in the islands unincorporated areas, and region-wide planning issues.
This year’s budget and a financial plan for the next five years should be finalized by next month, she said. Property tax notices are sent out in June.
In other regional district news:
Â• The board voted when it met Friday (Feb. 21) in Prince Rupert to fork over two economic development grants to islands organizations requesting them. The Masset economic development office will get $3,000 for its “asset mapping” project, and the Heritage Tourism Strategy will receive $2,500 for various activities including printing and distributing the newly-completed strategy.
Â• Rural Port Clements resident Paul Melney is asking the regional district to rezone his property for heavy industrial use so he can start a salvage yard. The property, located just south of Port, is currently zoned for residential use. Several neighbours have already signed a petition supporting the rezoning, Ms Beil said. The regional district will hold a public hearing on the issue in April.
Â• Directors voted to look into the possibility of a property tax exemption for the Queen Charlotte Heritage Housing Society, but will not be waiving the society’s water, sewer and garbage bills, as it had requested. Ms Beil noted that there is some hardship relief available for garbage bills from the local waste management committee. As for the water and sewer bills, the board decided that “once you do it for one non-profit organization, you’ll probably have to do it for a lot more,” she said.
Â• There’s been a small explosion of interest in the wind farming potential of the north coast, according to land referrals forwarded to the regional district for its opinion. Directors voted to recommend approval of two permit applications for Banks Island and McCauley Island. Land and Water BC makes the decision on whether or not to issue the permits, which are simply for investigation at this point. In the past year and a half, Ms Beil said, the board has received several referrals for wind farm applications.
Â• Directors also voted to recommend approval on an application from Teal Cedar Products Ltd. for a permit for a heli log drop zone in Long Inlet (west of Queen Charlotte) for two months.
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