Sechelt council approved its 2014 budget at the Jan. 15 regular council meeting, confirming that Sechelt residents won’t see a tax increase this year.
The $35.4-million budget includes $2.5 million worth of borrowing to complete the new sewage treatment plant, however that number may be changed in the future if Sechelt residents vote in favour of a $7.4 million loan.
Sechelt Mayor John Henderson said the budget could be amended to show the change and that it would not affect the tax rate.
Councillors voted five to two on Wednesday night to support the BC Ferry Coalition in its efforts to have the ferries treated as part of the highway system.
Coun. Alice Lutes brought the motion forward saying she felt council should
formally offer its backing.
“I’m not supportive of the action,” Coun. Doug Hockley said. “And I’m kind of dismayed by councillor Lutes bringing this up. As one that is a proponent of shopping local I would have thought she would have welcomed high increases in ferry rates and lack of service because it would help.”
Lutes replied that the increases hurt everyone’s pocketbook and affect their ability to spend in local shops.
Hockley said that if he was going to protest it would be to the federal government “who are grossly lacking in their subsidies of the BC Ferry corporation and the Ministry of Highways.”
Henderson also held back his support of Lutes’ motion.
“I struggle with this council. I think that there’s a lot of need to come up with solutions, not just complain,” Henderson said. “And I have yet to see a workable solution that addresses all of the demands on the tax resources.”
Councillors decided not to look at the number of members in a community association to judge its validity after receiving a staff report on the subject.
Originally Hockley had suggested community groups prove they have 25 per cent of households in the area registered to be eligible to speak to council on behalf of that community.
Councillors decided to drop any mention of percentage and instead passed a motion saying all ratepayers associations in the District must submit a list of their registered members annually.
Coun. Darnelda Siegers noted the list would help council “know that they are representing a number of people and not presenting themselves as a delegation and only representing themselves and maybe their neighbours.”