Although the Cowichan Lake area’s elected officials have made it clear that their electorate do not want to fund the Duncan-based Cowichan Sportsplex, they may not have much of a say in the matter.
During a recent committee meeting, there was a vote for the CVRD to instate a grant-in-aid for the Sportsplex, to the tune of $100,000.
The voters, made up of the regional district’s board members, will vote more formally, during the Wednesday, March 9, regular CVRD board meeting. During this time, it’s expected the item passes, possibly along with the 2011 budget.
“It’s possible the budget changes,” CVRD finance manager Sharon Moss said, adding that it’s all up to the board of directors.
During a CVRD meeting in January of this year, the Cowichan Lake area’s three electoral areas, including F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls), I (Youbou/Meade Creek), and the Town of Lake Cowichan voiced their opposition, alongside area H (North Oyster/Diamond) with regard to funding the Sportsplex.
A result of that meeting was the idea that the remaining electoral areas fund the Sportsplex, at a cost of 80 cents per $100,000 of their property value.
This is 12 cents more than the 68 cents it would cost if all electoral areas paid into it.
“If you want to fund that thing, fund it with people who want to fund it,” Area I director Ian Morrison said, last week.
Although it’s only 68 cents, Morrison said, “It’s the principal.”
The Wednesday, March 9, meeting will employ a weighted vote system, meaning Morrison’s electoral area’s vote is worth about one out of 45 of the total vote, with the entire Cowichan Lake area’s vote worth roughly 1/9 of the total vote.
“With one out of 45, you’re going to pay whatever the majority says you’re going to pay,” Morrison said.
The Sportsplex is all the way in Duncan, Morrison said, with his electorate disinterested in funding something they rarely, if ever, use.
“As a property owner, I don’t want to keep paying more for things I’m not actually taking advantage of,” he said.
During the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Tuesday, March 1, committee meetings, councillor Franklin Hornbrook thanked councillor Tim McGonigle, who sits on the CVRD board, for voting no to funding the Sportsplex.
Relaying the events of the latest CVRD meetings, McGonigle said that he was surprised about the Sportsplex and other items being passed as grants in aid, including one arts grant that wasn’t even applied for.
“That one floored me more than anything,” he said.
Another beef Hornbrook has with the grant-in-aid being awarded to the Sportsplex is that it goes against their policies.
The grant-in-aid policy states, “The primary purpose of a grant in aid is to provide one time financial assistance to an organization for a specific project that benefits the residents of the CVRD.”
Moss confirmed that this is not the first grant-in-aid for the Sportsplex, but that the board can choose to wave whatever policies they’d like, as they don’t carry as much weight as bylaws do.
Frustrated with the CVRD’s ways of doing things, Hornbrook brushed off the organization, stating, “They’re not even trying to make themselves more credible.”
McGonigle said that he’d bring the town’s concerns to the Wedneday meeting.
McGonigle is also the chair of the newly-formed Regional Recreation Committee, which has been charged with creating a funding formula for regionally significant facilities.
The idea behind the CVRD has been to fund the Cowichan Sportsplex this year with a grant-in-aid, with next year’s funding method to be determined using whatever results the committee comes up with.