The West Coast Multiplex survey results are in and show a drop in support for the proposed project.
Overall, 51 per cent of the survey’s respondents oppose, and 38 per cent support, a property tax increase to help fund the operating costs of the multiplex’s proposed first-phase, an ice-rink.
In a 2012 referendum, 1,094 West Coasters voted 62 per cent in favour to cover the proposed multiplex’s operational costs up to $450,000 annually.
The Alberni Clayoquot Regional District distributed the survey in November, both online and in hard copies mailed to property owners and a total of 1,472 were completed: 744 online respondents and 728 hard copies.
Ucluelet submitted the most responses with 690, 46.9 per cent, followed by Tofino with 602, 40.9 per cent, and local First Nations communities making up the remaining 12.2 per cent.
Of the West Coast’s eight communities, local First Nations communities showed broad support for the project, while Ucluetians were split 45 per cent in favour and 43.4 per cent opposed and Tofino showed heavy opposition at 59.8 per cent opposed and 30.7 in favour.
Support for the rink was stronger among renters than owners as 54 per cent of respondents who identified as an owner of a local property opposed the project compared to 34 per cent of renters.
“This may speak to owner/co-owners seeing a direct relationship between their household costs and taxes, while household costs tend to be aggregated in property rental calculations and may not be seen as having direct impacts on renters,” the ACRD’S survey report suggests.
The 728 paper copy respondents were given an additional question, not available in the online version, that asked about use and 44 per cent said members of their household would “never” use the facility, compared to 9.5 per cent who said members of their household would frequently use it.
Over half of all respondents, 52.3 per cent, took the option to write in additional comments and only 8 per cent of those that did expressed support for the project.
The most common comment topic, which appeared in 20 per cent of the surveys, was around a swimming pool being preferred over an ice rink. Opposition to the tax increase was the second most frequent comment, appearing in 13 per cent of the surveys and 9.8 per cent of respondents suggested the estimated $14-$18 million price-tag was too high for an ice rink.
The ramifications of the survey’s results remain unclear, though both Tofino and Ucluelet’s municipal councils are expected to discuss the issue during their first regular meetings of the year: Jan. 9 in Tofino and Jan. 23 in Ucluelet.
Read about the West Coast Multiplex Society’s reaction to the results in next week’s Westerly News.