An attempt by Area F Director Ian Winn to change the way gas tax revenues are shared between the five SCRD rural areas failed at the Corporate and Administrative Services Committee on April 27.
The SCRD has been receiving money from the Federal Gas Tax Fund since 2005 under a Community Works Fund Agreement. In 2017 they expect to receive about $650,000.
Funds are split between the five rural areas based on their percentage of the total population. As of the 2016 Census, Area F, with 14 per cent of the rural population, would receive the smallest share of money and Area E, with 25 per cent, would receive the largest. (Municipalities receive gas tax funds directly, not through the SCRD.)
“To me this is only looking at the numbers of people in any particular area, it’s not looking at the needs of that area,” said Winn. “A needs-based analysis needs to be done.”
Winn said he felt that the split was unfair because Area E, which is the smallest area geographically, gets the most funds. “That may be why the uncommitted funds are so high [in E] in comparison to all the areas, because the opportunities aren’t there to spend it,” said Winn.
Area E Director Lorne Lewis defended his allocation. “The money I have in reserves is not even a down payment on some of the drainage projects that are required in the densely populated parts of Elphinstone.”
Area B Director Garry Nohr, who has seen many different allocation models proposed in his 12 years at the board table, said: “I get a little worried when people open a can of worms.” Nohr noted that changing the funding now would be disruptive to long term plans for projects in rural communities.
Area D Director Mark Lebbell and Area A Director Frank Mauro concurred about the can of worms. “I’m going to live with the way it is right now,” said Mauro, whose area is by far the largest geographically and will receive 18 per cent of gas tax funds.
Nohr moved to retain the status quo in gas tax allocation, Lewis seconded, and the motion passed four to one, with Winn voting against.
Gas Tax funding will be back on the Committee’s agenda in May, with a discussion of which projects are eligible for funds and what priorities should be assigned.
Winn also gave notice that he will not support a project, currently on the SCRD’s books, to build a bike lane along Marine Drive between Gibsons and Langdale. Winn said the proposal to build shoulders along the narrow, winding road is simply too expensive, and he wants to investigate an alternate route.