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The Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study Committee has postponed the previously-scheduled in-person community engagement events. The Committee's consultants, however, continue to receive and address FAQs, continue to post information to social media and the Study website and continue to make themselves available to small groups that wish to have online presentations made to group members. The Committee is planning to hold the in-person events in January 2022. Exact dates will be provided closer to that time.
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The Provincial Offer of Restructure Assistance was addressed, initially, in a March 25, 2021, letter (PDF) from The Honourable Josie Osbourne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. The Minister outlines a total offer of $5,352,030 in both cash and in-kind assistance that would be provided to assist a new Sorrento-Blind Bay Municipality. Included in this total was $700,000 in road rehabilitation work that would be undertaken by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) during the post-incorporation five-year transition period.
A subsequent email from MOTI provided an update (PDF) to the road rehabilitation portion of the Provincial Offer. In this update, MOTI increased the number of kilometers of roads that would be rehabilitated. The value of the rehabilitation work increased from $700,000 to $1,500,000 — a total increase of $800,000.
This change to the value of the road rehabilitation work produces a new Provincial Offer total of $6,152,030 in cash and in-kind assistance.
The Administration Service Sheet (PDF) presents the total costs required to administer a new municipality. Embedded in those totals are specific assumptions related to Council member remuneration. Specifically, based on current salaries paid to Council members in other small municipalities in the Interior of British Columbia, the administration cost figures include:
In addition to these salary figures, the administration cost figures include a total of $20,000 for Council expenses, $35,000 for participation in the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), and $15,000 for participation in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). These figures are for all members of the Council (i.e., Mayor and six Councillors) combined.
Based on the approach taken in most British Columbia local governments, it is assumed that a new municipality would not provide benefits on top of these salaries to the Mayor and Councillors. The municipality may choose to make benefits programs available for purchase by Council members; however, the cost of buying into any benefits program would be the responsibility of the individual members of Council, not municipal taxpayers.
It is also assumed that the Mayor and Councillors would not receive municipal pensions. The issue of pensions was addressed in an earlier FAQ as follows:
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.
By way of comparison, the additional Electoral Area Director under the default Two Electoral Areas option would be paid $15,000 in salary. Expenses are budged at $9,000, with $5,000 additional for UBCM, $2,500 for FCM.
The bylaws of the Regional District that are in effect today would transfer to the new municipality upon incorporation. The new Council would assume full authority to apply and enforce the bylaws. The new Council would also have the authority to amend or repeal the bylaws. It is anticipated that the new Council would leave the bylaws in place initially but begin the processes of reviewing the bylaws and, where desired, creating new ones to better reflect the specific needs, issues, and interests of Blind Bay and Sorrento. Some provincial restructure assistance funds, outlined in the Offer of Restructure Assistance, would be made available to support these processes. Other funds would also be available through provincial planning grant programs.
The Committee has made the consultants available to any local association that would like to have a presentation for its members on the incorporation study findings. Each small-group presentation is organized by the requesting association and is designed to address some of the specific interests and concerns of the association. The decision to advertise the presentation to the broader community is a decision for the association to take. The Committee's own presentations - past and future - are designed for the broader community, and are advertised to all.
It is assumed that most of the planning and building services currently provided by the CSRD would become municipal services, provided directly by the new municipality. Building permits and building inspection services, specifically, would be transferred to the jurisdiction of the new municipality. Building permit processing times are a factor of the number of building officials working for the permit-issuing authority, and the volume of permit applications. Staffing challenges and increased application numbers are affecting almost all local governments in British Columbia at present, including the CSRD. At the staffing levels that have been assumed for a new municipality, it is unlikely that building permit applicants in Blind Bay and Sorrento would experience significantly faster service than at present. Lower processing times could be achieved with staffing level increases; however, such increases would result in higher service costs.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs provides a range of tax, expense, revenue, population, and other statistics every year for local government jurisdictions across British Columbia. One spreadsheet provided each year shows the local government taxes that are charged on a "representative" house. The representative house value in each jurisdiction considers the assessed values of properties (land and buildings) as determined by BC Assessment, not the appraised value or sale price for houses that may appear in real estate listings. The BC Assessment values are also used, it should be noted, to determine how much property tax must be paid by each homeowner each year.
The $400,000 value selected for the study was based on the 2020 representative house values provided by the Ministry for municipalities in the Shuswap. (The Ministry's data are for municipalities only, not electoral areas.) In considering the appropriateness of this value, it may be useful to note the following points: