The regional district committee of the whole has approved a recommendation to develop a service establishment bylaw to address homelessness in the Valley. The idea is to provide funds to one or more local non-government organizations based on a five-year action plan.
Pending approval from the CVRD board, participating jurisdictions would be Courtenay, Cumberland, Area A (excluding Denman and Hornby Islands), and Areas B and C. The maximum requisition would be the greater of $165,000 or two cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which would yield about $162,775. Courtenay’s share is about $81,000. Director Larry Jangula, noting businesses pay about 37 per cent of the city’s costs, is concerned about starting a service before the public buys in to the idea. Staff notes a non-binding question at the Nov. 15 election indicates the public favours a tax to reduce homelessness.
Area C director Edwin Grieve — disappointed all jurisdictions are not participating in the service — was the lone committee member opposed to the recommended bylaw. “We’re talking less than 10 cents a week,” Grieve said. “I’m disappointed we can’t have a little more resolution here.”
Comox director Ken Grant notes that his town has a fund for this function. “We already collect the tax,” he said.
Though Denman and Hornby are not direct participants, Area A director/committee chair Bruce Jolliffe said the islands will have a service. “We call it the housing spectrum there,” Jolliffe said.
The board will consider a bylaw before the end of August with a recommended fall referendum. Staff will liaise with the newly-formed Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness to gather input on the proposed bylaw and to promote awareness of the referendum. The coalition will develop a five-year financial plan based on priority needs to address homelessness.