EDITORIAL: Number crunch a head scratcher

An 8 % jump in the CRD's provisional budget is a straightforward statistic that’s easy to understand... on some levels.

An eight-per-cent jump in the Capital Regional District’s provisional budget is a straightforward statistic that’s easy to understand on some levels.

The population in the Capital Region is growing, especially on the West Shore and Sooke. Simple logic would dictate that more people living here means that the provision of services under the CRD’s control, such as water and regional parks, will cost more and those increases are going to be passed along to residents.

We also get that the cost of sewage treatment, the E&N Rail Trail completion, the Regional Housing First Program and the emergency response dispatch centre are big-ticket items driving this larger-than-usual increase. Where the waters get murky, however, is the disparity in the cost sharing.

Oak Bay, Saanich, Victoria, Metchosin and Highlands address payment through a formula that has the increase appearing to cost between $6 and $8 per household, based on average residential assessments.

By using a different formula for paying the piper, those numbers translate to $42.08 for View Royal, $38.22 for Langford and $36.31 for Colwood. At the end of the day, however, the increase means basically the same amount is being extracted from wallets across the CRD, one way or the other.

Call us dreamers, but we would like to see a uniform approach for the sake of taxpayer clarity by implementing a system where everyone’s payment is calculated using the same formula. Without, of course, having to do a couple of studies and hiring a consulting firm and a posse of bureaucrats to get to that point.

Another step in the right direction would be to consider Langford Mayor Stew Young’s suggestion to conduct a service review examining each regional function the CRD provides and whether those make sense for the municipalities being charged for them.

With the waters between West Shore municipalities and the CRD already muddy, Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton and other council members voiced major concerns about diving into a regional transportation strategy that would invariably be controlled by reps from larger municipalities. This latest CRD news does little to mend those fences.