Tag Archives: Nanaimo Regional District

Problems with RDN Parcel Tax scheme

At the last Nanaimo council meeting there was a presentation on parcel taxes just before the end of the meeting at 11pm.  Many questions were raised about the current RDN parcel tax scheme. Everybody in the Regional District of Nanaimo is affected including Parksville, Qualicum, Lantzville and the 8 Electoral areas (A to H) and the City of Nanaimo.

What are parcel taxes? What is the problem with parcel taxes? What is the RDN parcel tax scheme?  The delegate raised many important questions.

What are parcel taxes?

Every unit of land is considered a parcel, i.e. a house and yard. Parcel taxes are not user fees. As an example, the City of Merritt imposes a parcel tax for water and sewer as well as charging user fees.

What is the problem with parcel taxes?

Under a parcel tax, each plot of land in a jurisdiction is taxed the same, regardless of value or size of lot.  There is no consideration given to the occupant’s property value or their ability to pay.  It’s the same concept as a poll tax or head tax.  Parcel taxes hit lower income people harder.

Why are municipalities turning to parcel taxes?

In the past, municipalities actually tried to get rid of, or at least to reduce the use of parcel taxes because they were deemed to be unfair. Unfortunately, recently, many cash strapped municipalities are searching for ways to pay their bills but they don’t want to appear like they are raising taxes.

These parcel taxes are not factored into the total amount of taxes paid until after the property tax calculations are done.

At the end of the day they still represent a tax increase to home owners.

Regional Parks and Trails Plan parcel tax

The RDN Parks and Trail parcel tax was introduced in 2005. The parcel tax first appeared on our tax notices in 2006.

From 2006 to 2015, Nanaimo taxpayers have contributed over $4 million to this fund so far. Where is the money going?

Increase in parcel tax $14 to $20

At the March 22nd RDN meeting, the board voted to increase the RDN parks and trails parcel tax to $20.

Nanaimo Councillors didn’t approve the same RDN parcel tax increase at the April 18th Nanaimo council meeting. It was tabled. Will it appear on the agenda for the next council meeting?

Why a parcel tax and a levy?

In addition to the RDN Parks & Trails Parcel tax, there is another levy on your tax notice that simply says Regional District Parks levy. Apparently this money is paid as based on an invoice from the RDN. From 2006 to 2015 Nanaimo taxpayers have contributed almost $3 million to that levy.

Hamilton Marsh, The Notch, Moorecroft

The RDN established a park at Moorecroft in Nanoose Bay in 2011.  Will the RDN acquire Hamilton Marsh and The Notch in Nanoose Bay?

Where do the taxes raised for parks go? Are developers contributing to a park levy? Is the City of Nanaimo repealing Development Cost Charges for park contributions?

Parcel taxes happening across BC

Municipal Councils all across BC are introducing parcel taxes. Is this because there is less help from federal and provincial levels of government?  What about the taxpayers? Will home ownership become a thing of the past? Will mega landlords owning huge tracts of land and houses become the new reality in BC? What will happen when there are only a handful of residential property owners? Times are changing. As Councillor Bestwick would say, “I won’t be around when it happens.”

The public’s reaction to the unfairness of Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax scheme led to the 1990 Poll Tax riots:

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange faces closure

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (NRE) faces closure if they can’t get local governments to provide financial support. Where will people go to drop off their yard waste? Will illegal dumping result?

NRE began in 1990 after a private firm that had obtained a curbside pickup contract in Nanaimo folded within months, leaving the City without recycling services.  The original location for NRE was at 2214 McCullough Road in Nanaimo until it out grew its location.

The NRE does not own the property it occupies at 2477 Kenworth Road but they own the property next door and have plans for a new centre that would see its operations moved indoors.  The project is budgeted at $1.7 million.

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange
Nanaimo Recycling Exchange on Kenworth Road

Back in January 2014, RDN directors requested that staff draft a report on ways they might respond to the NRE’s funding request.

There are many advantages to the concept of the recycling exchange. It is a one-stop place to go to recycle everything. You can take most household products  such as styrofoam, glass jars, hazardous household waste, paints, fertilizers, batteries, light bulbs, yard waste drop off, old electronics for recycling and the second hand shop is a popular place to drop off or pick up items.

Why doesn’t the RDN and the City of Nanaimo run this valuable service as an extension of the city dump? A proactive approach needs to be taken regarding recycling and garden waste. In Nanaimo there is no pick up of branches or garden clippings; consequently, people often just dump this into the bush.

If you would like to show your support for saving the NRE you can sign their petition. On the petition it says 15,000 tons a year of recyclable or re-usable material would end up in a landfill and over 100 volunteers and workers would ultimately have no place to call home, if the NRE closed its doors.

What’s killing Cedar and Yellow Point?

How can a few people on a school board vote to kill a community? Why was there no public referendum on such a serious issue as closing all the schools in Cedar and Yellow Point?  Also, how is it that the Nanaimo Regional District was never involved in this decision to close all of these schools? Once again we are looking at property and construction issues and who stands to profit.

Here is the latest press release from Save Cedar Schools:

Save Cedar Schools challenges trustee claims that the decision to close every school in the Cedar area is about giving students the best education possible. 

“Trustee Saunders voted against the closure of Cedar Community Secondary School in two of the three votes needed to close the school on June 26th, 2013,” said Steve Rae of Save Cedar Schools.  “And now she is out in front of the media saying this is about better educational opportunities.  To tell us it’s about a better education is an insult.  It is about getting the schools in the board to 95% capacity so they can build a new NDSS.”

On July 31, Trustees Terry-Lynn Saunders and Bill Robinson stated that the decision to close every school in the Cedar area is about offering Cedar students the best educational opportunities available.  Some important background information on Trustee Saunders in regards to this process include:

  • Trustee Saunders was on the board of trustees when the decision to build Cedar Community Secondary School was made just over 12 years ago.
  • 12 years later she spoke eloquently at the board meeting on June 26th about why the decision to close Cedar Community Secondary School was a bad decision for the students of Cedar.  She objected to the motion to close Cedar Community Secondary School during two of the three votes and stated when she changed her vote that while she “did not agree with the closing of CCSS”, but she would “not stand in the way of the larger board plan”.

This statement, made by Trustee Saunders on June 26th indicates to Save Cedar Schools that she understands and recognizes that the educational opportunities of Cedar students from k-12 are being negatively impacted as part of the Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan.

The district staff reference only ONE report to justify the optimal secondary school size of 600-1000 students and elementary school size of 200-400 students.  These optimal school sizes are having huge impacts on the way students in SD 68 are educated.  Important details from this report include the following:

  • This report clearly states that secondary schools “serving student populations exclusively or largely from diverse and/or disadvantaged backgrounds should be LIMITED to about 600 students OR FEWER.”
  • The same report states that “smaller schools do not seem to be an impediment to the learning of more advantaged or high achieving students” and that “smaller schools have higher retention rates for struggling students and thus are likely to have lower achievement rates because in larger schools struggling students are more likely to drop out.”
  • The same report states that as a result of these higher retention rates smaller schools are “more efficient and cost effective” because “small secondary schools manage to graduate a significantly larger proportion of their students than do larger secondary schools”.

Save Cedar Schools has read this SINGLE literature review and wonders if the trustees did their homework and read the same SINGLE literature review?  This was the only report that was referenced as justification for the sweeping changes to the way students across SD68 are educated in the Enhance Facilities for Learning Plan.  If the Trustees did read this report, then they would recognize that this plan does not offer the “best educational opportunities available” for the students of Cedar, Barsby or the rest of the students of SD68.

Save Cedar Schools has been busy since its inception on July 9.  Some examples of our activities over the past month include:

  • The collection and presentation of over 2500 signatures on a petition to the Minister of Education.
  • Joining forces with the Snuneymuxw First Nation, other parent groups, local politicians and provincial organizations dedicated to ensuring that quality remains part of public education.
  • Area A director Alec McPherson has had two motions of support passed by the RDN noting that the RDN was not consulted on the closure and disposal of the Cedar area schools.  (See attached)
  • As a result of the RDN motions, a letter to the Minister of Education from the RDN has been sent informing the minister that the RDN was not properly consulted during the official consultation process.  (See attached)
  • The Save Cedars Schools coalition has documented over 100 examples of the trustees’ failure to respond to community members across SD 68 during the consultation process and the number keeps growing daily.
  • The Save Cedar Schools coalition has requested answers to 8 outstanding questions that should have been answered during the consultation process.  Continued failure to answer these questions demonstrates that the trustees did not exercise proper oversight in their approval of the Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan (see attached letter sent to the board on July 22, to which we received an automated response.)
  • Save Cedar Schools has requested a spot on the August 28 Board of Trustees meeting.  We are awaiting a response from the board.
  • Save Cedar Schools is working on a comprehensive, costed alternative plan to achieve the goal of acquiring funding for a new NDSS while still retaining k-12 education for the students in our community.
  • Save Cedar Schools has engaged in a letter writing campaign encouraging people across SD68 to write to their trustees, local MLA’s and the education Minister expressing their feelings and beliefs in regards to the Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan.

“We know that we might seem like a group of parents that are just angry that our schools are getting shut down. But we want the community to know that we are fighting for something bigger than just the bricks and mortar of the schools in the Cedar Area.  We understand tough decisions need to be made and are willing to make them.  We are in favour of a new NDSS but not at the cost of our community.  We believe this can be realized through a meaningful consultation process.” said Steve Rae. “The district staff and board of trustees rolled into our community with a highly questionable and educationally unsound plan and told us they were closing our schools.  Then they did not answer one question about the plan during the consultation process.  Despite the trustees’ every effort to pit Cedar against Barsby, our outrage is not about the school our students will be bused to.  Barsby is a great community school with a committed PAC and faculty.  Our outrage is directed at the grossly unfair way this plan has been justified and enacted.  Save Cedar Schools feels that if this can happen to us, it is only a matter of time before the board and district staff start making other questionable decisions across SD68 under the guise of ‘better opportunities for students’.  This has galvanized us all.  We really feel we are standing up for quality public education across SD68 with this battle and we are in it for the long haul.”

Save Cedar Schools has a Facebook page with more information, including opportunities to volunteer for the Coalition.  They can also be found on twitter @SaveCedarSchool and reached via email SaveCedarSchools(at)gmail.com.

Free Septic Smart Workshops

The Regional District of Nanaimo is offering free Septic Smart workshops to residents on how to properly care for their residential septic systems.

Learn how to maintain your septic system so that it will last longer and function properly and have the least impact on your house and property.

Gabriola Commons  Monday October 29, 6:30 – 8:00pm  675 North Road, Gabriola Island.

Bradley Centre  Tuesday October 30, 6:30 – 8:00pm  975 Shearme Road, Coombs.

Cranberry Hall  Wednesday November 7, 6:30 – 8:00pm  1555 Morden Road, South Wellington.

Register for the workshops by calling 250-248-3252 or 1-888-828-2069 for more information visit the Regional District of Nanaimo

Cedar Main Street Design Project

You are invited to an open house on the Cedar Main Street Project – Community Design Charrette.

The Open House will be held at Cedar Secondary School, 1640 MacMillan Road, on     Tuesday, June 19, 2012 from 4pm to 7pm followed by a presentation from 7pm to 9pm.

This planning initiative is aimed at creating an illustrated village plan for the area, which includes the lands located on both sides of Cedar Road between MacMillan and Hemer Roads.

The Cedar Main Street Design Project is intended to guide the future development of the main street corridor. The resulting plan could result in changes within the community including land use, transportation, housing, recreation, employment, and servicing.

For more information visit the Regional District of Nanaimo.

New Look for Cedar Main Street

The Regional District of Nanaimo is resuming the Main Street design for Cedar with a four day workshop and presentation, starting today. The charrette will take place at the Cedar Heritage Centre located at 1644 MacMillan Road in Cedar.

Cedar Community Design Charrette Schedule of Events
Day Date Event Time Purpose
Wednesday January 25th, 2012 Presentations 9:30am – 12:00pm Overview of the project
Thursday January 26th, 2012 Presentation 7:30pm – 8:30pm Presentation of concept sketches
Friday January 27th, 2012 Work Day (no formal public event) n/a n/a
Saturday January 28th, 2012 Open House and presentation 3:00pm – 5:00pm Presentation of final concept sketches

In addition to the above, community members may drop in to the Cedar Heritage Centre to view design progress, make suggestions, share ideas, and ask questions at any time within the designated site office hours identified below.

Date Site Office Hours Cedar Heritage Centre
Wednesday January 25th, 2012 1:00 -5:00pm
Thursday January 26th, 2012 9:00am – 5:00pm
Friday January 27th, 2012 9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday January 28th, 2012 9:00am – 3:00pm

For more information please visit the Regional District of Nanaimo website at www.rdn.bc.ca, email to cedarmainstreet(at)rdn.bc.ca or call Greg Keller, Senior Planner at (250) 390-6510.