Dramatic reduction in park fund contribution uncalled for
To: Cowichan Valley Regional District
Re: Parks Acquisition Fund
It has come to our attention that the Parks Acquisition Fund, chosen by voters in 2008, has seen a dramatic reduction in the last several years — without public consultation.
Although use of the fund has not kept pace with contributions, this is quite normal and no reason at all for reducing the contributions. As the fund continues to grow the options for using the money grow with it — especially since we are currently in a time of high land values. In addition, as our Valley gets more and more crowded, there will be increasing pressure to acquire parks which satisfy specific local strategic objectives, such as infilling of gaps in wildlife habitat corridors, proximity to residential developments, and preserving upland water supplies.
The Naturalists believe that a tax of $5 per $100,000 of assessed value would raise about $1.4 million per year. Such an amount would be almost as insignificant to taxpayers as the current 67 cents, and much more aligned with the expectations that they had for the fund when they chose it in 2008.
More than ever now, we are seeing how important natural areas are, as we struggle with the extra stress of a pandemic. That is only a human concern. We are also learning to take a more farsighted view of planning our communities. We know we must act on the climate emergency. Protecting biodiversity in natural areas is paramount.
Therefore, we urge you to bring back the Parks Acquisition Fund to a level where there is a realistic ability to purchase land, thus providing our future generations a healthy environment.
Gail Mitchell and Bruce Coates
Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society