Gibsons’ draft operational and capital budgets are poised to add about four per cent to the 2021 level of the town’s portion of this year’s tax bills for its property owners.
The proposed spending plan was presented at an online public review session on March 22, attended by just over a dozen community members. Earlier that day, discussions at a committee of the whole meeting resulted in minor adjustments to this year’s proposed 52 capital projects, including delaying the installation of a fenced dog park until 2023. That facility was being planned for off Aurora Way (near the BC Hydro power lines).
Mayor Bill Beamish introduced the proposed change, saying that he had not heard many requests from members of the public for the dog park project. He noted that many dog owners in the town currently exercise their pets in Brothers Park, which is shared with other users, including youth sports groups. “If a dog park is not a community priority, it should not be ours,” he said. The committee agreed with the adjustment, which potentially freed up $20,000.
Council members voted at the committee level to reallocate those funds to 2022 planning initiatives rather than use them to reduce the proposed tax increase. Those projects include updating an Active Transportation Plan and increasing the budget for the Development Permit Area (DPA) 2 update. The additional money for the DPA work is slated to cover the increased scope that Coun. Annemarie De Andrade proposed when that project’s terms of reference were considered by council earlier this year.
The 2022 draft capital plan also includes $34,000 to investigate additional traffic calming options on Gower Point Road. In discussion of that project, Beamish asked his council counterparts to travel along Marine Drive from Horseshoe Bay to West Vancouver next time they head to the Lower Mainland. He noted that the area is very similar to the Gower Point Road and Gospel Rock sites. The mayor shared his observation that cyclists, private vehicles, transit buses and larger commercial trucks safely travel that route, with traffic managed only by signage related to speed limits and sharing the road with other users. “I am not sure that we need to do a heck of a lot more than that,” he said.
Based on public input received, council will again consider the budget at a committee meeting on March 29.
In her report, director of finance Lorraine Coughlin advised the committee that draft financial plan and property taxation bylaws will be introduced at council meetings in late April and an additional public review session will be scheduled. Adoption of the bylaws is required before May 15.