Summary 

The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) currently provides the Greater Merville Fire Protection Service (the "Service") and contracts with the City of Courtenay for fire suppression services. The CVRD has proposed to construct, equip and operate a new auxiliary fire hall to be located at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society property at Williams Beach Road and the Island Highway.  This new fire hall would be managed in collaboration with Oyster River Fire Rescue.

Bylaw No. 614 being “Greater Merville Fire Protection Service Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 614, 2020” would authorize the CVRD to borrow two million dollars ($2,000,000) for the construction and equipping of the new auxiliary fire hall. The loan would be paid back over a maximum of 25 years by the taxable properties within the Service Area. No tax increase is projected as part of the borrowing plan due to the budget transitioning from increased reserve contributions to debt repayment.

Bylaw No. 614 being “Greater Merville Fire Protection Service Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 614, 2020” 

The CVRD Board is seeking participating area approval of the electors by way of Alternative Approval Process for the entire Service Area. The number of eligible electors in the entire Service Area is 2,733 and the number of elector responses required to prevent the CVRD Board from proceeding without the further assent of the electors is 273. The deadline for receiving elector responses for this Alternative Approval Process is 4:30 p.m. on December 7, 2020. The CVRD Board may proceed with adoption of the Bylaw unless, by the deadline stated above, at least 10% (being 273) of the electors of the Service Area indicate that the CVRD Board must obtain approval by assent vote (referendum).

Public inspection of the Bylaw can be made at the CVRD office (770 Harmston Ave., Courtenay, BC) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday, except holidays) and on the CVRD website.

Elector Response Forms

Elector responses must be given in the form established by the CVRD Board. Elector response forms are available at the CVRD office (770 Harmston Ave., Courtenay, BC) and on the CVRD website at the link below. The only persons entitled to sign the forms are electors of the Service Area. More information about elector qualifications is provided below on this webpage.

Elector Response Form

Service Area

The Bylaw relates to the CVRD’s Greater Merville Fire Protection Service Area which includes a portion of Electoral Area B (Lazo North) and Electoral Area C (Puntledge Black Creek), as shown on the map below.

Eligibility for Resident Electors and Non-Resident Property Electors

According to section 172(1)(a) of the Local Government Act, a person must meet the qualifications of section 65 (resident elector) or section 66 (non-resident property elector) of the Local Government Act.

Resident Elector
To sign an elector response form as a resident elector, the following applies:

According to section 65(1), a person must meet all of the following qualifications:

  • be 18 years or older; and
  • be a Canadian citizen; and
  • have been a resident of BC for at least 6 months immediately before signing the elector response form; and
  • have been a resident of the portion of CVRD Electoral Area C or Electoral Area B within the service area for at least 30 days immediately before signing the elector response form; and
  • not be disqualified from voting under the Local Government Act or any other enactment or not be otherwise disqualified by law from voting.

Non-Resident Property Elector
To sign an elector response form as a non-resident property elector, the following applies:

According to section 66(1), a person must meet all of the following qualifications:

  • not be entitled to register to vote as a resident elector; and
  • be 18 years of age or older; and
  • be a Canadian Citizen; and
  • have been a resident of BC for at least 6 months immediately before signing the elector response form; and
  • have been a registered owner of real property within the the portion of CVRD Electoral Area C and Electoral Area B within the service area for at least 30 days immediately before signing the elector response form; and
  • the only persons who are registered owners of the property are individuals who are not holding the property in trust for a corporation or another trust; and
  • not be disqualified from voting under the Local Government Act or any other enactment or not be otherwise disqualified by law from voting.

According to section 66(2), a person may only vote once as a non-resident property elector, regardless of the number of properties owned. According to sections 66(5) and 66(6), where more than one person owns the property, only one person may vote as a non-resident property elector in relation to that property and must provide written consent from a majority of the property owners. 

Alternative Approval Process - Background

Local governments can use an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) as a way to obtain electoral approval with respect to certain types of proposed bylaws. An AAP is less expensive than undertaking assent voting (referendum).

At its August 25, 2020 meeting, the CVRD Board endorsed the use of an Alternate Approval Process (AAP) to seek elector assent for this initiative. The staff report dated August 20, 2020 details the proposed timeline, the number of eligible electors elector, the AAP response form, public notice and other required elements of the process.   

Prior to undertaking an AAP, the Inspector of Municipalities (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing) must first approve the request. The CVRD received approval from the Inspector of Municipalities on September 30, 2020 to undertake an AAP for Bylaw No. 614. 

A local government must publish a Notice of Alternative Approval Process for two consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. In the case of this AAP, the CVRD is placing the Notice in the Comox Valley Record, as follows:

  • October 28, 2020
  • November 4, 2020

The deadline for submitting elector responses for this AAP is 4:30 p.m. on December 7, 2020.

The method by which an eligible elector expresses opposition to Bylaw No. 614 is by signing and submitting an Elector Response Form to the CVRD (before 4:30 p.m. on December 7, 2020).

Eligible electors must provide their full name and residential address. Eligible non-resident property electors must also provide the address of the property that they own within the Service Area and they are only entitled to sign and submit one elector response form, regardless of how many properties they may own within the Service Area.  If a property is owned by more than one person, only one of the owners may submit an Elector Response Form in respect of that property and a majority of the property owners must sign a Consent Form setting out which of the owners is authorized to submit the Elector Response Form on their behalf.  If a corporation is the owner (or one of the owners) of the property, no one may submit an Elector Response Form in respect of that property.

If 10% of eligible electors in the Service Area (273 people) oppose the CVRD Board's intention to adopt Bylaw No. 614, the CVRD Board cannot proceed with adopting Bylaw No. 614 unless elector approval is obtained via assent voting.

If the 10% threshold is not attained (i.e. if less than 273 electors submit Elector Response Forms), then the CVRD Board may proceed with adopting Bylaw No. 614.