Based on Sooke's average home assessment ($490K), this means homeowners in Sooke will pay an average of $658.62 to the CRD in 2020 ~ up $13 from last year. For this, we receive clean, verifiably lead-free water on demand; waste management, landfill and recycling services; access to a superb parks system (including our beloved Potholes and Goose); and regional emergency management planning, among other services.
For perspective: The South Island's current year-to-year inflation rate is 2.7%. Largely because we're not on the hook for a share of the $775m wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point, our 2020 CRD increase is relatively low compared to other municipalities, i.e. Victoria (6.17 percent), View Royal (9.78 percent), Colwood (10.37 pecent), Saanich (6 percent), Esquimalt (7.11 percent), etc.
Drilling down on the chart ... Regional costs shared with all 13 CRD municipalities are listed in its top third. Sooke-specific services are identified in the second third. And towards the bottom are two categories every homeowner in the region pays into: long-term debt servicing (water treatment facilities, for instance) and regional hospitals/health-care facilities.
Among the services tailored to Sooke, you'll see that the lion's share finances our recreation centre and its related facilities. SEAPARC's $3.4 million Fitness Centre addition is set to open in January, then the masterplan calls for a new pool roof (2022), a $1 million upgrade of the Sooke Skate Park (2023) and the construction of a multi-sport (lacrosse included) box in Sunriver (its timing contingent on whether the District receives a six-figure federal infrastructure grant this year).
We in Sooke also pay specifically for ...
* Sooke Region Museum operational funding;
* Contributions to the Regional Housing First Fund, now paying off locally via the Knox Vision apartments, a pair of incoming BC Housing affordable rental projects in the town centre and the strong possibility of a third (perhaps paired with a senior/youth activity centre on Lot A) given the demand identified in Sooke's newly released Housing Needs Assessment report;
* Access to the CRD Arts & Culture Service, which Sooke subscribed to late last year thanks to the wise advocacy of Cllr. Parkinson. The Sooke Community Choir, the Sooke Folk Music Society, the Sooke Philharmonic and the Sooke Festival Society have received CRD project grants this year;
* Animal care services (which I've suggested the District might eventually want to take in-house once the current contract lapses in 2023. Ms. Rodriguez and Sooke pet-owners in general might appreciate an animal shelter closer to home than Elk Lake, we could hire a team of experienced locals to run it, and a revenue stream would be available through both the current contract fee and the ongoing sale of microchip-embedded tags).
Our overall tax bill also includes, of course, direct payments to the District of Sooke (approx. 40 percent of your/our total bill), the Vancouver Island Regional Library, BC Transit, School District #62, BC Assessment and the Municipal Finance Authority.
Everyone has a view/opion about the value of the CRD for us here in the region's westernmost fringe. After attending a dozen or so meetings this year as Sooke's Alternate Director, I've become a sincere fan of a sharp, professionally run (or so it seems to rose-coloured me) organization that delivers an array of essential services while also planning responsibly for a growing population (750k in Greater Victoria by 2100, double the current total), purchase green space (the next focus being west of the Sooke River) and deal as best we can with the climate emergency.
Not that we have a choice in participating, of course. Amendments to British Columbia's Municipal Act in 1965 created regional districts as the mechanism by which to coordinate urban, suburban and rural communities with shared borders and needs. The CRD was created two years later. Regional governance is fated to evolve in the years ahead contingent to some degree on how the Victoria/Saanich amalgamation talks proceed, yet we will likely always be part of a regional confederation ~ perhaps one distant day in an alliance with west shore communities only.