Supporters and opponents of the West Coast’s proposed multiplex project are anxiously awaiting the results of a revised business plan expected to be released this fall.
By voting in support of the multiplex in a 2012 referendum, the West Coast committed itself to covering up to $450,000 of the facility’s annual operating cost through property tax increases.
Residential properties will pay roughly $0.25 per $1,000 of taxable land and businesses about $0.33 per $1,000.
Tofino is eyeing an indoor gym project though and isn’t sure its tax base could handle supporting both a gym and a multiplex.
The gym carries an estimated capital cost of roughly $2 million along with an estimated $65,000 operational cost totalling an annual price tag of roughly $77 for the average Tofino taxpayer.
“I recognize that these are two separate projects that are being led by separate local governments but they are somewhat related and it’s quite possible that people are happy and willing to see both, or maybe one or the other,” Tofino mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly News.
“The nature of the multiplex project has changed a little bit from its original vision and Tofino’s council is interested in learning more about its projected capital costs and operating costs and there are concerns about what local residents are willing to pay for and how much.”
She said Tofino’s district office has not researched ways of backing out of the referendum but suggested conversations could be had at the regional district level.
Based on the 2012 referendum’s results, the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District established a service bylaw that permits the requisition of up to $450,000 annually from West Coast taxpayers to operate a multiplex.
“Once a service is established, it’s difficult though not impossible to withdraw from the service or end the service but that’s way far down the road and not something that should be taken lightly at all,” Osborne said.
“What is pressing on our minds somewhat is that we’d much rather answer the questions that we have about financial impacts and the viability of the multiplex now, before it’s built. That’s the fairest thing to do for everybody.”
She said her council would not commit to any directions until the multiplex’s revised business plan is released and the numbers can be combed through.
“I think Tofino’s council feels right now that it just doesn’t have enough information to be able to answer local residents’ questions about the multiplex,” she said.
She hopes to see locals continue reaching out to local leaders while the business plan is pending.
“Every councillor has experienced residents coming and offering opinions or asking questions and I would encourage people to continue doing the same,” she said.
“I think everyone understands that we’re all waiting to learn more about the scope and nature of the facility and what its projected costs will be but, ask away. The more questions we can help to answer the more informed a decision we’re going to make in the end.”
She said an open house or town hall meeting could be held after the business plan is complete to collect public feedback and that it’s difficult to say whether local sentiment towards the multiplex has changed since the 2012 referendum.
“During the time of a referendum campaign, there’s a lot of focus and heated conversations of people who feel strongly one way or the other way,” she said.
“Because so much time has gone by and the project seems to be back on the rails, so to speak, it’s difficult to gauge whether the feelings are exactly the same…One thing I know has not changed, is the strength of support for more recreational opportunities on the peninsula.”