Referendum Concerns – Who To Ask?

Posted on August 3, 2011

3


[Linda Allison] ~ I have huge concerns about the upcoming aquatic center referendum in Area H. Who do I contact in RDOS to make my concerns known and who, in RDOS, can provide me with further info on the referendum?

There is a “pool committee” in the community whose mandate was to gather and provide info to the residents but there has only been one public meeting. I attended that meeting and it was more like a “pro pool rally” with committee members speaking positively of the benefits with no mention of the drawbacks.

To say that it will be “fair” for everyone by having a standard parcel tax is absolutely not true, well, I guess it depends on your definition of fair. Area H has more parcels than the Town so those who would use a pool the least will pay the most. In addition, at the 2006 census, 46% of Area H parcel owners were seasonal residents. The parcel tax appears to be only on land with development and does include farm land even though the committee brochure says farm land is exempt. Of course all vacant land is exempt not just farm land. I would like some clarification on number of parcels in Area H and number of parcels within the Town, please.

As a very long time resident of Area H, a rancher with many land parcels and as the Chair of the Area H Official Community Plan committee I am deeply concerned about this proposed referendum. At a very minimum, I think that Area H should have a vote independent of the Town, if it must proceed at all. There is too much misinformation circulating and no public meetings scheduled again until the end of August. How in the heck are the seasonal residents to get the correct information.

Speaking as Chair of the OCP Committee, we have worked very hard to ensure that our OCP identifies the uniqueness of each “community” within Area H. The committee has received strong opinions from the various small communities in Area H that they want each to be considered on its own merits. So to have the pool committee lump Area H and the Town together shows they have obviously not taken the time to read our OCP. Over the past 5 – 6 years that I have been involved with the OCP committee not once has an aquatic center been discussed, let alone stated as a priority.

One piece of misinformation that really distresses me is the calculation of the parcel tax. That information on the pool committee handout is not only misleading it is WRONG and they failed to address it at the one public meeting this year. The committee has taken the operating costs, deducted the revenues to show an operating loss and THEN deducted a further $50,000 which is the supposed cost of operating the existing outdoor pool. The remaining figure is the operating deficit that the pool committee says the parcel tax will be based on. That is not correct – the Town will not be contributing $50,000 against the operating deficit so the REAL parcel tax will be the costs minus the income from attendance.

As well, if the committee was sticking to its mandate of gathering and disseminating information to the public, I would have no issue with the committee members but since they are only presenting the “pro” information, I feel there is a perceived conflict of interest with several of the committee members. Some of the members have jobs currently with RDOS or the Town that would be impacted from a positive vote.

I have other issues of concern but would like to know first, who I should be addressing these concerns with. I have met with Director Hope several times and he is aware of my concerns.

Linda Allison
Allison Creek Ranch

The Community Planning Rural Princeton Bylaw Review can be accessed here. Please take a look, and consider participating in feedback on this important document.