Back in the mid-80’s when I first visited Tod Mountain (now Sun Peaks) to attend the first Velocity Challenge speed skiing race, little did I know that this out of the way, off the map day ski area would not only one day become my home and place of business, but would also one day be the first Mountain Resort Municipality in British Columbia. Yes, it’s true Whistler had a similar designation many years ago but that was under different legislation which has since been shelved.
As with any small town, the pre-election rumours and gossip are flying about what will really happen to our small town on June 12 and while I understand many people are concerned with any major change in their lives, the fact is, the changes don’t have to be that drastic.
In laymen’s terms, the current taxes collected on the $655 million dollars of property in Sun Peaks are collected by the Province of B.C. and then filtered down through the Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) and the Sun Peaks Resort Improvement District (SPRID) to pay for the services provided to the taxpayer, such as roads (provincial), building inspections and solid waste management (TNRD), fire protection and street lighting (SPRID) and so on and so on. Simply put, your taxes pay for all these levels of government and it’s simply how, where, when or should I say “if” your tax dollars are filtered back to your community to pay for the services that community needs.
So what really changes after the June 12 election? Well firstly, the new municipality will now collect your property taxes and not the Province (they charge a five per cent fee for the current tax collection) and the new municipality will be responsible for providing all the services that the Province and the TNRD now provide to this community, or should that be “don’t provide”, in some cases.
While people whisper and go on and on about the possibility of tax increases and potential conflicts of interest, etc., etc. under the new Sun Peaks governance model, the reality is, the only reason taxes would go up in the new Mountain Resort Municipality of Sun Peaks is that you have a mayor and council that spend more than necessary on the services they must by law provide.
The Sun Peaks Incorporation Study painted a fairly broad stroke when it came to budgeting for the services, staffing and municipal structure required for the new municipality and the final tax number was only a mere $76 dollar tax increase per year on a $400,000 dollar property.
It’s a simple fact that if the new mayor and council watch the taxpayer’s dimes and nickels and use all the tools provided by the Province in securing the basic services and funding needed, your Sun Peaks property taxes could actually go down and the community would have all its services provided locally.
In my mind, what could be better for this community than local governance, local taxation with local businesses and people providing the services and the staffing required to operate the new municipality?
Remember, if you don’t vote on June 12 you have no say in any of these matters.
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