The Columbia Shuswap Regional District board is backing away from plans to provide stable funding for a pair of community groups in the North and South Shuswap.
Directors cited disillusionment among voters which came about over the course of a failed alternative approval process (AAP) on the subject as their reason for not proceeding to a referendum.
“The AAP process has proven to be highly toxic in my area,” said Electoral Area C Director Paul Demenok.
Under the AAP, a plan to tax Area C and F residents in order to provide stable funding to the Arts Council for the South Shuswap and the North and South Shuswap Community Resource Association would have gone forward unless at least 885 voters turned in a form expressing their opposition to the plan.
Demenok said he believes a great number of the elector response forms were filled out by people opposed to the use of the AAP itself, and not the funding for arts and culture groups that was its subject. Demenok called the response discouraging and said the AAP brings out the negative vote without facilitating any kind of movement in favour of the initiative. He said there were people purposely misleading the community as to what the funding for the arts and culture programs would cost taxpayers each year.
“A lot of people signed a form without really knowing what they were voting against. They signed because they hated the process so much.”
Demenok said he would have a difficult time approving the use of the AAP process in Area C again, and that a cooling off period is needed before any other action to earmark funds for the non-profit groups is approved.
Electoral Area F Director Jay Simpson echoed Demenok’s statements, saying the no side was far louder than the yes and misinformation about the initiative “spread like wildfire.”
Demenok also said that concerns about the process were widely raised at an information meeting about the proposed Centennial Field purchase which is also before Area C voters as an AAP concluding on Oct. 2.
The board voted to defer any further action on funding the community groups until at least 2020.