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Gibsons to annex 11 Elphinstone properties

Eleven businesses in Elphinstone along Highway 101 on the border of Gibsons may soon be incorporated into the Town.

Eleven businesses in Elphinstone along Highway 101 on the border of Gibsons may soon be incorporated into the Town.

Paul Gipps, chief administrative officer for the Town of Gibsons, revealed at the Tuesday, July 21, council meeting that the Ministry of Community Development had given the OK for the Town to move ahead with its plans to incorporate the 11 properties.

Gipps had applied for the approval before the May provincial election after a number of property owners said they were interested in joining the Town for increased access to services.

"There are a number of reasons for the interest in coming into the Town," he said in a statement. "Access to sanitary sewer connections, a more direct link between local services and taxes, easier access to records and permits are other issues that seem to be key factors."

Gipps described the situation as "win-win" for the Town and property owners, citing a list of mutual benefits: the additional properties will be a logical continuation of the Town's commercial core, creating a level playing field between the businesses in the neighbourhood by having standardized rules for development and taxes. It would allow the Town to develop a comprehensive business development plan, and it would keep taxes within the municipality as opposed to the regional district where taxes are sent to the province.

He said about nine of the property owners have stated they are now in favour of joining Gibsons.

In addition to being connected to the Town's sewer system, the owners would be phased into the Gibsons tax system at 25 per cent per year over four years.

One of the property owners who approached the Town asking to be incorporated was Blane Hagedorn, who owns businesses in both Gibsons and on the contested Elphinstone border.

"I've owned businesses in the area for 35 years and I believe that the location of all the businesses affected makes it essentially one commercial district. I am also a strong supporter of my taxes staying within my community," he said.

According to Ian Poole, director of finance for Gibsons, the change would mean about $82,000 in increased tax revenue for the Town and about $52,000 in lost revenue for the regional district.

The plan also has its detractors, including Elphinstone director Lorne Lewis.

"I've made it clear all along I'm totally opposed to any changes in boundaries and I don't think it's a good faith or neighbourly thing to do," he said.

Lewis said the process for making the change leaves the opinions of Elphinstone residents and the regional district out of the loop.

"This is an antiquated piece of legislation that assumes that municipalities understand how to manage properties better than regional areas. Regional areas have come a long way," he said. "Quite often people live in them or own property in them specifically because they don't want to be in a municipal area."

The Town must now go through an alternate approval process (AAP) whereby residents of Gibsons will be able to register opposition to the plan by dropping off a ballot at Gibsons municipal hall. If 10 per cent of voters register opposition by the deadline of Sept. 14, the AAP fails and the Town must abandon the plan or hold a referendum on the issue. If the AAP passes, the businesses could be incorporated as early as September.

Editor's note: Coast Reporter has learned through a conversation with the Town of Gibsons that B&K Soils and Landscape Supply is not part of the proposed boundary expansion. Incorrect information stating those facts appeared in the printed and on-line edition's of Coast Reporter on July 24. Coast Reporter apologizes to the Town of Gibsons for any confusion this error may have caused.- Ian Jacques/Editor