Port Renfrew lies within the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. Could the town be B.C.’s next municipality? CRD director Mike Hicks is considering it. (File - Portrenfrew.com)

Port Renfrew lies within the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. Could the town be B.C.’s next municipality? CRD director Mike Hicks is considering it. (File - Portrenfrew.com)

Electoral area director ‘almost speechless’ as Juan de Fuca receives small amount of COVID bailout money

Now Mike Hicks mulls municipality status

Juan de Fuca Director Mike Hicks expressed his disappointment Monday that the Capital Regional District electoral area received only $43,000 from the provincial government in a COVID-19 relief fund, significantly less money than a similar size municipality.

“I don’t understand why the government would think that the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area expenses are that much less than a municipality,” Hicks said.

“The numbers speak for themselves. I’m almost speechless. I really don’t know what to say.”

The funding is part of the $425 million of joint federal and provincial spending announced by the B.C. government in November. The grant was provided to assist with increased operating costs and lower revenue due to COVID‐19.

On average, municipalities received $200 per capita through the federal and provincial-funded Safe Restart Grant program. Regional district electoral areas were provided with $8 per capita.

Hicks argued the funding formula is unfair when Juan de Fuca, with more than 5,500 residents, receives a much smaller funding amount because it’s an electoral area. He points to Zeballos, a municipality that received $200,000 but has a population of 107.

“This is a real slap in the face,” Hicks said.

However, the District of Sooke, which received $2.9 million, took a different tone to the news when it was announced in early November.

“It’s more money than we expected,” Mayor Maja Tait said.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities advocated for a “fair and equitable” distribution formula for all local governments, said Tait, who is the organization’s past-president.

The Municipal Affairs Ministry, in a statement to Black Press Media, said regional districts are responsible for distributing and utilizing the funds to address impacts from COVID-19 across all services they provide.

The Capital Regional District received $1.4 million, and it was up to the CRD board to determine how much funding was distributed to each electoral area.

“It is also important to note that most people in Juan de Fuca region live in and around the municipality of Sooke, which received $2.9 million in direct funding through the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant for Local Governments,” the statement read.

“As the pandemic continues to evolve, so will our response, and we will continue to look at how we can work with local governments to ensure the health and safety of British Columbians.”

Hicks argued it’s a worrying sign when one community is pitted against another.

“I don’t begrudge Sooke or anyone the money, but I do question how much we got. It’s got to be fair,” said Hicks, who wasn’t expecting any pandemic bailout money from the province.

He’s now putting his efforts into turning the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area into a municipality. The Juan Fuca area covers a large area from East Sooke to Port Renfrew and includes five volunteer fire departments.

Over the years, the Juan de Fuca has kept its taxes low and in 2021 is expecting a .5 per cent increase.

And because Juan de Fuca isn’t a municipality, it cannot obtain many funds a municipality is entitled to and receives, including casino money from the province.

“They think we’re second-class citizens for some reason,” Hicks said.

RELATED: Sooke gets $2.9 million for COVID-19 economic recovery

ALSO READ: B.C. extends freeze on rent increases to July 2021 as second wave of COVID-19 continues



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Juan de Fuca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tina Starkey with her seven-month-old puppy Sugar on the E&N Trail in Esquimalt. Starkey now carries a small personal alarm device, her thumb on the button. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Encounters leave Vic West women concerned for her safety

The 50-year-old wants self defence training, says she’s not alone

FUN IN THE SUN
Soloman and seven-year-old Zev Nagler dig up a crab in the tidal flats in Witty's Lagoon Regional Park as part of Metchosin Biodiversity Day on Saturday. (James MacKenzie/Black Press)
Witty’s Beach stair access closed again

Repairs will be complete by summer, mayor says

The Better Business Bureau is reminding people to do their research before starting any home improvement projects this spring. (Black Press Media file photo)
Don’t get scammed on home improvements, warns Better Business Bureau

Scams typically involve paying cash upfront for jobs that never get done, says BBB

A member of the Belmont Secondary School in Langford has tested positive for COVID-19, the Sooke School District announced Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Positive COVID-19 case identified at Belmont Secondary School in Langford

Other school members could’ve been exposed on April 20

Starting in June, Government Street will be closed to most vehicles between Humboldt and View streets. A section of Government Street was transformed into a pedestrian-priority walkway in the wake of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria plans 10-hour closures of Government Street come June

City’s business relief plan extended, Government St. from Humboldt to View closed noon to 10 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read