Sunshine Coast citizens from Halfmoon Bay to Port Mellon will vote June 25 on whether the Sunshine Coast Regional District should borrow up to $19,338,000 to build new recreation facilities. If the referendum passes, the SCRD will borrow the money to build a new aquatic centre in Sechelt next to the library and an ice arena/community centre in Gibsons' Brothers Park. The exact amount of money that will be borrowed will depend on how successful the SCRD and the Gibsons and Area Community Centre Society are in raising money from other sources, such as government grants and corporate sponsorships.
If the referendum is successful, the SCRD will set up a new service to operate those two new facilities, as well as the old Sunshine Coast Arena and Gibsons pool. In that case, the SCRD plans to shut down the West Howe Sound facilities service, which currently pays for the Gibsons pool by taxing property owners in Gibsons, Elphinstone, West Howe Sound and Roberts Creek.
The SCRD board held a special meeting April 7 to decide the limits on borrowing and the wording of the recreation referendum. The board decided on a taxation limit of $3,446,000 a year, or 92 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, whichever is greater. However, if property assessments do not continue to rise as fast as they have in recent years, the SCRD may need to increase that limit, according to a report by SCRD staff. At the April 7 meeting, board members said they were concerned that limit, which wording is required by law, would be misleading, because in fact the tax will not be determined simply by assessed value. Instead, the SCRD plans to fund the capital costs of the new facilities by a flat parcel tax, which will be the same for each property, and to fund the operating costs by taxing only the property's improvements.
The SCRD staff estimate a net operating cost for all four facilities of $1.8 million for the first year of operation in 2007. The plan is to coordinate the management of the recreation facilities so the two pools and two arenas do not compete with each other.