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Only the Minister of Municipal Affairs can order a referendum on the matter of incorporation. The Minister will be looking to the CSRD — which, in turn, will rely on the Committee — to make a recommendation to hold or not hold a referendum. The recommendation will be based on the community's level of interest in incorporation, as judged by the Committee.
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A decision to incorporate would result in the election of a six Councillors and one Mayor in place of one Electoral Area Director. The decision would also result in the establishment of a municipal administration with close to 15 staff members across all services. All of these positions are outlined in the various Service Sheets, including the one on Administration Services. The new municipality would be responsible for paying all of the costs associated with the Council and administration. Many of these costs and the positions they represent, however, would replace rather than duplicate existing efforts. Governance and service delivery responsibilities that would be taken on by the new municipality are responsibilities that, by and large, rest today with the CSRD Board and staff. The responsibilities and the costs that go with them would be transferred to the new municipality from the CSRD at the time of incorporation. Taxpayers of Sorrento-Blind Bay would begin to pay the municipality for the services transferred to the municipality. At the same, taxpayers would stop paying the CSRD for the services. The transfer of services to a new municipality would prompt the CSRD to reduce the resources it uses for service delivery in order to ensure that remaining electoral area taxpayers did not face tax increases.
The Committee is a neutral body and will not identify any preferred option. The Electoral Area C Director is a non-voting, ex officio member of the Committee. The Committee’s role is, first, to ensure that the consultants’ analysis of the implications associated with incorporation is conducted properly and fully. With the analysis completed, the Committee’s role shifts to focus on community engagement to ensure that the residents of Sorrento-Blind Bay understand what incorporation would mean in terms of service provision, service governance and finance/taxation. At the end of the engagement process, the Committee will make a recommendation to the CSRD Board with respect to a referendum. If a referendum on incorporation is recommended, the Minister will order a referendum and ask electors to decide one of two options:
Public boat launches in the South Shuswap are currently maintained and improved by the CSRD Community Services Department as part of the Electoral Area C Community Parks Service. The current level of service provided to all parks, including the boat launches, is determined by the CSRD Board of Directors based on a variety of factors, including input from the seven-member Electoral Area C Parks Advisory Committee, the Area C Director, the community, and CSRD staff.
If voters in Blind Bay and Sorrento decided to incorporate, decisions on service level would be made by the new seven-member municipal council, with input from staff and the community. Council could choose, as well, to establish an advisory committee of residents.
Decisions to increase the level of maintenance for boat launches and/or to improve the facilities would be determined by the council based on input received.
There are hundreds of acres of land in the Sorrento Village Centre that could conceivably be developed for commercial uses, depending on the wishes of any future municipal council. There are also tracts of land in Blind Bay and in other parts of the Study Area that are not in the ALR and could be proposed for future development or re-development to other uses.
The transition team in the event of incorporation would consist of a consultant who would serve as an interim Corporate Officer to put in place the basic legislative, financial, taxation, administrative and governance frameworks required. The interim staff member may be assisted by an Administrative Assistant.
The interim Corporate Officer would work closely with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the CSRD to establish the basic frameworks prior to the inaugural Council being elected. The Provincial Offer of Assistance includes a grant that is specifically dedicated to paying the transition team cost.
Examples for figures requested in this question included:
The mailout that was delivered to households in July 2021, was an introductory document designed to provide a high-level overview of the two governance options and an outline of the community engagement opportunities planned through October 2021. The mailout was not intended to provide detailed cost data or comparisons to enable residents to choose between incorporation and the two electoral areas option.
Detailed data and comparisons will be presented, however, in the coming weeks as part of the engagement phase of the Incorporation Study. Indeed, many of the data and comparisons are available already to review in the various Service Sheets produced by the Committee as part of its comprehensive analysis on the options. Each sheet features a particular type of local government service (e.g., local roads, police, planning & building, parks & recreation, administration), and presents estimates of staffing, facility, and equipment costs that would be incurred by a new municipality to provide the service. All of the costs are brought together into the Multi-Year Budget for a new municipality, including the costs associated with six Councillors and one Mayor, and the costs to have a municipal hall.
View Service Sheets along with other information from the analysis. At upcoming Open Houses, and in the comprehensive Overview mailout to be distributed in early October, cost information will be summarized for residents to review.
A decision to incorporate would result in the election of a six Councillors and one Mayor in place of an Electoral Area Director. The decision would also result in the establishment of a municipal administration with close to 15 staff members across all services. All of these positions are outlined in the various Service Sheets, including the one on Administration Services.
The new municipality would be responsible for paying all of the costs associated with the Council and administration. These costs and the positions they represent, however, would be replacing rather than duplicating existing efforts. Governance and service delivery responsibilities that would be taken on by the new municipality are responsibilities that today rest with the CSRD Board and staff. The responsibilities and the costs that go with them would be transferred to the new municipality from the CSRD at the time of incorporation. Taxpayers of Sorrento-Blind Bay would begin to pay the municipality for the services transferred to the municipality. At the same, taxpayers would stop paying the CSRD for the services.
The transfer of services to a new municipality would prompt the CSRD to reduce the resources it uses for service delivery in order to ensure that remaining electoral area taxpayers did not face tax increases. Efforts taken by the CSRD, post-incorporation, to adjust its own costs would be a matter for the CSRD Board to decide. Such efforts, however, would help to ensure that cost additions to one jurisdiction (i.e., the new municipality) were offset to a large degree by cost reductions in the other jurisdiction (i.e., the CSRD).
The costs that would be associated with a municipal council and a municipal administration are fully included in the costs to provide the municipal services set out in the various Service Sheets. The taxes that would be paid by residents for the services are set out in the Sample Tax Notices.
In British Columbia, all regular municipal employees (i.e., full-time staff and regular part-time staff with a minimum number of hours) belong to the Municipal Pension Plan and receive pensions for their service. Local government politicians are not members of the Municipal Pension Plan or any other province-wide plan. There are ten municipalities in British Columbia that have chosen to establish limited pension-like plans for their own elected officials that meet certain requirements. All ten of these municipalities are located in Metro Vancouver. The remaining 152 municipalities do not offer any pension programs for elected officials.
There are no known examples in British Columbia of communities that have disincorporated after having chosen to incorporate — certainly none from the past several decades. There are a few examples of municipalities that have chosen to amalgamate with other municipalities to create larger cities. In the early 1990s, for example, the municipalities of Abbotsford and Matsqui in the Fraser Valley amalgamated to form a larger City of Abbotsford.
Property taxes are a function of many factors, the most significant of which is the range and level of local government services provided to the community. High-tax municipalities of all sizes are those that provide a broad range and high level of local services to their residents, based on residents' demands and willingness to pay for services. Many municipalities, in response to the demands and expectations of residents, provide a limited variety of services at basic levels. These municipalities would be considered low-tax jurisdictions.
Residents' demands and expectations related to services are important points to consider. Communities that expect and demand additional services and higher levels of service can expect to pay more in local taxes than communities with more modest service demands.
Incorporation is one factor that influences property taxes but is not the major factor. A decision by local electors to incorporate Blind Bay and Sorrento would result in some property tax increase, at the current range and levels of service. This increase would be caused primarily by the required shift in responsibility for local roads from the province to the new municipality.
The Current State Report, presented to the Incorporation Advisory Committee in February 2020, provides an overview of the Study Area and the two Electoral Areas that would exist in the event that incorporation was rejected. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs' reduction to the Study Area boundary in June 2021, slightly affected the population and other measures attributed specifically to the Area in the Report; the changes, however, were minor.
Figure 2.2 in the Current State Report identifies a Study Area population of 4,701. With the reduction to the boundary made in June 2021, the population is believed to be closer to 4,575. Information from Statistics Canada (2016 Census) shows that the median age in Blind Bay and Sorrento, at approximately 60 years old, is significantly higher than the median age of 43 for the province as a whole.
Full Question "This area has a very large retirement community. It would seem you have not taken this into consideration when establishing dates of mid-October for open houses and a possible referendum in late November"The in-person Open Houses will have the live-stream capability to allow residents who happen to be out of the community in October 2021, to watch the presentations and to ask questions. If a referendum is recommended by the Committee and ordered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, electors will be able to vote up to one month in advance at an early ballot in person, or any time in advance by mail.
It will be important to hold a referendum before the end of 2021 in order to minimize the time between the community engagement efforts and the vote and to give the Ministry the time it would need to implement a "yes" outcome (if such an outcome occurred) prior to the October 2022 general local election.
The Sorrento-Blind Bay Municipality boundary is considerably smaller than the boundary for C1 for a number of reasons, three of which are particularly important:
Roads — The provincial Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MOTI) is responsible for all local roads in electoral areas throughout British Columbia, including in any future Area C1. When an unincorporated area chooses to incorporate, responsibility for roads shifts from MOTI to the new municipal government. This transfer of responsibility gives municipalities control over decisions related to roads; however, it also imposes considerable costs onto local taxpayers. The area for a Sorrento-Blind Bay Municipality was sized to minimize the total number of local road kilometres that municipal taxpayers would be expected to maintain and fund. The same consideration was not a factor in setting the boundary for Area C1.
Agricultural Land Reserve — An effort was made to minimize the amount of ALR land in within the Incorporation Study Area. Such land is protected from urban and semi-urban development that is more likely to occur in a municipality than in an electoral area.
Class 9 (Farm) — Properties classified by BC Assessment as Class 9 (Farm) enjoy a greater range of tax exemptions in unincorporated areas than within municipalities. Accordingly, an effort was made to minimize the number of such properties in the Incorporation Study Area.
Yes, additional information and greater detail will be provided so that electors are able to assess the two options fully.
If the Minister orders a referendum electors will have the option to vote by mail.
The Committee is not associated with and has not sanctioned this event.
Full question "Is there anything that the CSRD, members of the advisory committee or the consultants can do to address misinformation or even 'scare tactics' that somhttps://bc-csrd.civicplus.com/273/Sorrento-Blind-Bae may use to encourage the public to vote one way?"The Committee discussed the issue of misinformation that may be put forward in different forums (particularly online forums) by persons with strong views on the topic of incorporation. The Committee decided that it would not engage in debates or efforts aimed at addressing the misinformation, but would instead continue to promote the Study website as the official and sole source of all Committee-sanctioned information on the Study.
The Committee's Administration Services sheet identifies all of the administration services that the municipality would be expected to provide. The same sheet outlines the costs of the services, the taxes required to pay for the services, and the number of staff required to deliver the services. As noted in the sheet, it is expected that the municipality would require a total of 7.0 full-time Administrative staff to provide all of these services.
Within the contingent of 7.0 full-time Administration staff, there would be portions of specific positions dedicated to developing Council meeting agendas, taking minutes of Council meetings, managing the Mayor's schedule of events and duties, undertaking legislative tasks (e.g., development of bylaws), answering Council correspondence, and attending to other tasks required to enable the governing body to function. In a small municipality such as Sorrento-Blind Bay, the total staff time required to support Council would not be expected to exceed 1.0 full-time equivalent.