Salmon Arm  

CSRD residents to vote in referendum on Shuswap Watershed Council funding

Water council referendum

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District is recommending a referendum on continuation of a parcel tax to fund the Shuswap Watershed Council on a permanent basis.

Directors voted unanimously this month in favour of taking the issue to a full assent vote for all eligible voters in Electoral Areas C, D, E, F, and G and the District of Sicamous.

The vote and associated bylaws need approval from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs before proceeding.

The watershed council is a non-profit group focused on protecting, maintaining and enhancing water quality and promoting safe recreation in the Shuswap.

Members represent the CSRD, Thompson Nicola Regional District, Regional District of North Okanagan, City of Salmon Arm, District of Sicamous, and the Secwépemc Nation.

The Fraser Basin Council, a provincial non-government organization, is contracted to provide staff services to the Shuswap Watershed Council until March 2024.

Currently, the council is funded through a parcel tax of $9.02 per property.

The new maximum rate is estimated to be $9.64 per year.

Salmon Arm and other participants have different methods for paying into the watershed council service.

The referendum is projected to cost $75,000, but directors preferred a vote to the alternative approval process, which would cost just $2,500, calling it "a solid investment in the democratic process."

"Let the taxpayers decide," said Electoral Area C director Marty Gibbons.

Approval from the province will likely take six to eight weeks.

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