The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board unanimously approved an alternative approval process to obtain elector assent for the borrowing of $1.77 million to purchase Centennial Field.
At their July 18 meeting, the board agreed upon the details of the alternative approval process. They had approved the purchase price and made the decision to deplete a parks acquisition reserve fund in order to reduce the amount of money which would have to be borrowed.
The alternative approval process will allow the borrowing of funds for the purchase of the property unless a minimum of 671 Area C electors, 10 per cent of the eligible voters in the area, submit forms declaring their opposition to the loan.
The deadline for submission of the forms will be 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
The start of the process awaits the approval of the B.C. Inspector of Municipalities. Forms will be available once approval is received. The CSRD stated they expect it to begin by mid August.
“The alternative approval process, where voters submit objections directly to the CSRD, is a much more cost-effective way of obtaining elector consent when compared to the costs of conducting a full-scale referendum,” the regional district stated in a press release.
The CSRD board could not agree on a new policy to allow alternative approval process response forms to be returned to the regional district by email. Regional district staff had recommend the change in policy which would have allowed electors to fill out the same form and then submit it by email. Currently, forms must be either mailed or hand delivered.
“There is a view that the alternative approval process is a less than transparent means of obtaining elector assent,” said Charles Hamilton, chief administrative officer. “This policy counters some of the sentiments that already exist in the community that this is an attempt to circumvent a referendum.”
Directors David Brooks-Hill and Rene Talbot voted in favour of allowing the email submissions.
“I hear from people that it’s hard to do, that it’s too inconvenient to go to Salmon Arm. To me, anything that makes it easier for people is a bonus,” Talbot, the Electoral Area D director, told the board.
The directors who voted against email submissions expressed concern that it would increase the possibility of fraud or tampering.
At the July 18 meeting, the board also authorized the spending of up to $25,000 from the Electoral Area Feasibility Study Fund to cover advertising and legal costs associated with the purchase of Centennial Field.