Gabriola asked to vote on buying recreational property in village core

NANAIMO – Property near Gabriola Elementary School would be used for recreational opportunities.

Residents of Gabriola Island are expected to decide next year whether they approve of borrowing upwards of $455,000 to purchase recreational property near Gabriola Elementary School.

On Aug. 25, the Regional District of Nanaimo board approved terms of a land purchase deal with Emcon Services for three parcels of land at Paisley Place. The lots total 3.44 hectares.

According to Howard Houle, regional district director for Gabriola Island, district staff will now formulate a bylaw to borrow the amount and it will be presented to the board for consideration at a future meeting.

The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development must approve the bylaw before it goes to referendum and Houle anticipates if all goes according to plan, the referendum will take place in February.

Houle said he brought forward the recommendation because there is no other recreationally zoned land in Gabriola’s downtown core. There will be community consultation in the future to determine what will go on the land, he said.

If a majority approves, the initial impact on residential taxpayers will be $4 per $100,000 of assessed value for property taxes.

“That’ll be the assessment in the first year because, of course, we have administrative costs and there’s financing costs and then the second year it should drop to approximately $3.52 per $100,000,” said Houle.

According to terms of the deal, the regional district must receive approval of the electorate by March 27, with the closing date March 31.

If there is a delay, Houle said the regional district would have to negotiate a new deal with Emcon.

“I certainly hope the community will get on board,” said Houle. “I think this is a great project for the future. We lack recreational facilities on Gabriola and I’m really hoping they’ll support this.”