To the editor:
I have lived in Lake Country for 52 years and feel it is time for me to speak up about the upcoming referendum to borrow money to purchase the old CN railroad.
I think I am like most Lake Country people who just want to know the true cost of this endeavour. Anybody who thinks it is only going to cost taxpayers $27 per year extra in property taxes is living in La La Land. The District of Lake Country tried to sneak this through by telling people this and also by using the alternate process instead of holding a referendum.
Here are some costs that they never mention:
1. The $27 increase is based on a property assessed $480,000. We have many properties in Lake Country that are assessed at millions of dollars so these people will be paying a lot more than $27
2. The cost of upgrading the rail line into a walking/biking path and the maintenance to keep it up
3. Who is going to pay the legal fees to deal with Okanagan Indian Band who have filed a notice of claim in B.C. Supreme Court? They also say that the 2.5 km that runs through IR #9 Duck Lake will revert back to them. So are we buying this from them?
4. When are we paying Kelowna back for the $2.5 million they are lending us? How much is the interest on this money?Will the district be asking for another increase in taxes to pay this off?
5. The whole purchase of the rail line is based on the provincial government contributing $7 million; however, they have never come out and said this for sure. You would think the district would get them committed before having a referendum
6. I would like to know how the district is going to deal with property owners who have land on both sides of the railroad. I talked to one of these owners and he has first right to buy the rail line property that goes through his property and he has done this.
According to Professor Duane Thomson, who seems to think he is the authority on the value of lakeshore property, this property would be worth $13,889 per foot. If that is the case this property will be worth millions and millions of dollars. Is the district going to buy this land also?
I read in the Lake Country Calendar newspaper that infrastructure services director Greg Bucholz says the District of Lake Country is $30 million behind in needed improvements to our roadways. He goes on to say we will have to go back to gravel roads or raise taxes to pay for this. I also know that Interior Health is after the district to upgrade the quality of our water, this is going to cost millions. All this is adding up to some very steep increases in taxes over the next few years and I fear that low income families and seniors on fixed incomes will be taxed right out of their homes.
Voting no and turning down the referendum is not such a bad thing as some people would want you to believe. We still would have the west side of the lake to develop into a bike and walking trail along with some nice beaches. Let the millionaires buy the expensive land on the east side of the lake and build their million dollar homes. We could then collect the big tax dollars from these properties to improve our roads and water quality.
I will be voting no on the referendum and urge all Lake Country residence to do the same.
Ron Volk, Lake Country