Legal action examined
Residents of the Cluculz Lake area will take legal action after a referendum vote supporting a new pool in Vanderhoof passed, meaning they will have to pay higher taxes.
Dick Martin, an area resident who helped organize a meeting last weekend where locals could say whether or not they wanted to pursue the matter legally, likens the issue to a couple wanting to buy a car, but knowing they can’t afford it. So they decided their neighbours can pay for the car, and hold a vote. Everyone is amicable with the decision, however those voting don’t have to pay for the car.
He added those who are voting are not the ones who are paying.
He said the point of the meeting was to gauge the communities willingness to pursue the matter legally.
“We had a meeting out there to look at whether property owner were interested in challenging this.”
He asked how the area was included this time when it has been excluded from other referendums in the past.
“The rest were excluded when we held a referendum for our fire hall,” he said.
He added that notice regarding the meeting was put up two and a half days prior to it, and 208 of those there signed in. Before the meeting they contacted the lawyer for an estimate of how much it would cost to fight the way the vote was held in court.
The ballpark number given was anywhere between $25,000 and $75,000
“So we told them it would cost anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000 to fight it in court, and asked, ‘Does everyone have an appetite to do this?’”
Not doing so, he said, means paying about $8,000 per property over the next 30 years. He said there are 735 properties in the fire zone, not including the 30 properties at the tail end of Bobtail Lake, an area currently in the same boat as Cluculz.
“We asked everybody to do the math,” he said.
“If 470 people vote against it and pay 100 bucks each, that is $47,000. If everyone does, that’s $73,000.
“Maybe only 300 will vote against it and each put in $300, and the rest will get a free ride. I don’t know how people think when it comes to spending their after-tax dollars.”
He said the taxes for the pool will add up over the 30 years. A few quick calculations shows between $4 and nearly $6 million going out of the area to support the pool over that period of time.
“Many think people at Cluculz Lake don’t think the people of Vanderhoof should have one,” Martin said, adding that is not the case. “You have to sustain it.”
Martin worries that will be difficult at best. He points to Prince George’s core review and said if a population of 80,000 can’t afford two pools, how can 5,000 afford one?
“So they pass the buck to neighbours and let the neighbours pay for the cost,” he said.
He said they asked for a show of hands at the meeting from those in favour of proceeding, and a sea of hands soared. Then he asked for a show of hands for those who did not.
“There was not one hand for those who don’t,” he said. “Our thing from that it was a unanimous decision to move forward.”