A public consultation meeting was held on October 3 to discuss the proposed Bella Coola Airport Dike Upgrade Project. Hosted by the CCRD’s Emergency Program Coordinator Steve Waugh, the meeting was poorly attended by less than 25 local ratepayers.
Steve’s presentation included a brief history of the existing dike, the damage(s) it sustained in the 2010 flood, and the costs to taxpayers to repair sections of the existing structure as well as to extend the dike along the west end of the runway.
Despite the small crowd, a spirited discussion followed centering on ways to fund the required one-third contribution to the project (estimated at $1,150,000) other than the proposed method of raising property taxes significantly. In response to one query, Mr. Waugh acknowledged that a letter had been sent to Chief and Council of the Nuxalk Nation seeking financial support for the project. Additionally, the idea of a user fee, which could be collected at the airport, could also help to reduce the burden to taxpayers.
The directors of the CCRD will consider two bylaws at the upcoming October board meeting, one to create a diking authority as a prerequisite to commencing any dike works and the other a borrowing bylaw to allow acquisition of necessary project funding. It was made clear that this project would not proceed until a referendum was held to seek assent from the ratepayers in areas C, D and E. Those in attendance noted with dismay that no CCRD director was in attendance to hear their concerns.
For more information, and to more directly express their views on this proposed project, ratepayers were encouraged to contact their CCRD area representative.