Cortes Island’s community halls could receive their first cheques by mid March.

Cortes Island’s Community Halls Could Receive Their First Cheques By Mid March

Three months ago, an overwhelming majority of Cortes residents voted to have their property taxes increased in order to provide some assistance for the island’s community halls. The Whaletown Community Club (WCC) is about to file the funding application for Gorge Hall. The Southern Cortes Community Association (SCCA) has requested further information, before submitting Mansons Hall’s application. Strathcona Regional District (SRD) Chair Michele Babchuk says Cortes Island’s community halls could receive their first cheques by mid March.

2020 Budget

“Because this is a new service, we have to pass our budget first. We have a budget bylaw that lays out the maximum amount that can be requisitioned,” says Babchuk. 

According to Bylaw No. 341 (Cortes Island Hall Tax Service), the funding cap is $80,000 (or $0.2405 per 1,000 of property assessment) a year. 

The halls will receive less this year because of costs incurred through the recent referendum and a feasibility study. (Babchuk did not have figures at hand, but guesstimates that something like $30,000 could be taken out of this year’s allotments for the halls and first responders.) 

“I think we are going to see the draft budget at the February 12th board meeting. We were hoping for it to come to the next meeting, but one of the committees is not ready to have its stuff incorporated yet,” says Babchuk. 

Cortes Island’s community halls could receive their first cheques by mid March
Chair Michele Babchuk & Chief Administrative Officer David Leitch at the November 21, 2019 Board Meeting – Roy L Hales photo

Myrna Kerr, President, SCCA Board of Directors, emailed,  “The SCCA submitted their budget and Manson’s Hall Community Hall tax
financial information to the Noba Anderson, Cortes Regional Director and to Srathcona  staff person responsible for managing this project, Aniko Nelson, on January 7, 2020. The Board of the SCCA has made a decision to not release financial information until after the SRD Board has received the information they have requested from the SCCA and the SRD Board has reached a decision on the SCCA proposed funding request.”

The SRD Board has yet to decide whether to give their 2020 budget three readings, or adopt it at the next meeting. Once this is done, the community halls will submit their budgets. These figures will be vetted by the Electoral Areas Services Committee and then returned to the SRD Board for the final vote.

Other Community Halls Within The SRD

Two other community halls are already receiving funding from the SRD.

According to the Quadra Island Community Centre website

“By 1991 we had to augment that by going to referendum to get on the tax roll. The population voted 64% to support the Community Centre through property taxation. This marked a huge change in our focus. We could now concentrate on recreation programming instead of fundraising to survive.”

Sayward’s Heritage Hall has been receiving funding since 2008 and the annual cap was reduced to $25,000 last year.

Coming To Fruition

“This is the first year for the Cortes Island hall service, so we budget for the maximum amount that the bylaw will allow,” says Babchuk. 

She added, “I am glad to see this process coming to fruition and those halls will soon get the funding they need.” 

Top photo credit: Shortly before BC Ferry’s first morning sailing from Cortes, a familiar sight to Cortes residents heading for SRD Board Meetings – Roy L Hales photo.

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