I have been hearing rumors about the Gabriola emergency evacuation dock and people’s interpretations of my position on that, so I thought I’d address the issue directly.
The dock was established by referendum to be an emergency-only evacuation dock. Part of what the community voted for included providing taxes to maintain the dock. Because this was done by a majority vote in a referendum, I would not change the use without asking the electorate first in a referendum.
Referendums are a bit costly, at about $15 to $17 thousand. It’s too late to have it included in the coming 2014 election so it would need to be a stand-alone vote.
If the electorate decided to go down that road, the next step would be to change our licence of occupation from the provincial government. Applying for that change to add a water taxi service use – and that would be all water taxi services – would mean BC Ferries would have their say on whether they want it or not.
There is already a letter on file at the RDN from BC Ferries stating they do not support a commercial use at our Gabriola Emergency Evacuation Dock. At that point we would have spent about $20 thousand and have nothing.
But let’s say BC Ferries does say yes to the commercial use; RDN staff tells me we would need to upgrade the float for safety reasons, costing taxpayers between $20 to $25 thousand.
Short term use of the dock for a test to see what kind of usage there would be for a water taxi is not allowed under our licence of occupation. It only allows an emergency evacuation dock usage.
Part of my job as the RDN director is to make sure you get good value from your tax dollars and to try to keep the increases reasonable. It is not my job to tell you how to spend your tax dollars.
If the majority of the electorate in RDN Regional District Area B wish have a referendum to establish a licence of occupation change, and a tax increase to have commercial water taxi service at the Descanso Bay emergency evacuation dock on Gabriola Island I can make that happen.