SATURNA ISLAND PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
DATE HELD: Saturday, 31 May 2008
LOCATION: Saturna Island Recreation Centre
Saturna, British Columbia
CALL TO ORDER: 1:00 p.m.
Board Members Susie Washington-Smyth President
Present: John Money Vice President
Brian Haley Treasurer
Marilyn Sewell Secretary
In addition 13 SIPOA members were present, 11 registered their votes by e-mail and 1 member assigned their vote by proxy. This was sufficient to constitute a quorum.
1. CALL TO ORDER:
The meeting was called to order at 1:00p.m. Susie Washington-Smyth chaired the meeting and welcomed everyone to the second Annual General Meeting of SIPOA and reviewed the agenda.
2. PREVIOUS MINUTES:
Minutes of the previous AGM were circulated.
MOVED AND SECONDED (John Money/Brian Haley)
That the minutes of the Annual General Meeting of 2007 be approved.
3. PRESIDENT’S REPORT
Please see Appendix One.
4. TREASURER’S REPORT
Brian Haley reported that very few cheques had been written during the year. Expenses were limited to postage and office supplies. As of the end of April the balance in the SIPOA bank account was $2499.26
A discussion followed regarding membership fees for the coming year.
MOVED AND SECONDED (Brian Haley/John Money)
That the SIPOA annual membership dues remain set at $10.00 but if members wished to pay for three years in advance that fee should be $25.00 for three years.
Discussion ensued regarding the necessity to give a discount for the three year option and the motion was amended as follows:
That the SIPOA annual membership dues remain set at $10.00 but members may pay for three years in advance at $30.00 for three years.
CARRIED WITH ONE ABSTENTION
5. ELECTION OF DIRECTORS:
Susie Washington-Smyth thanked Brian Haley for being in charge of nominations and for his work as Treasurer. She also thanked the retiring members of the board, Nick Kaiser, John Gaines and Brian Haley for their hard work on behalf of SIPOA.
As nominations were closed on May 9th so on-line voting could occur no new nominations were accepted from the floor. Three positions were open and three nominations were received. The new directors of SIPOA are:
5. NEW BUSINESS:
Tom Johnstone has agreed to follow up with Public Works Canada to see if there is a willingness to review federal assessment of parks lands on Saturna given the impact to local services.
a) PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS
John Money spoke to the assessment appeal process and the need for landowners to better understand how property assessments are determined. For example, assessments are determined by comparable sales of other properties as well as by the use of formulas such as the waterfront footage formula. It is up to the individual property owner to look at their assessment and determine whether an appeal is warranted. Comparable assessments should also be looked at and can be accessed on line. The assessed value of accessory buildings should also be looked at as they can be assessed very high. For example a garage with a dirt floor should not be assessed as high as one with a cement floor. Property owners can ask the assessment officer to come to Saturna. One should never assume that the assessor has seen your property. If you do plan an appeal, take pictures and have a carefully laid out argument supported with evidence. John Money would be happy to talk to any land owner about appealing their assessment.
Susie Washington Smyth will approach the director of B.C. Assessment and ask him to speak on Saturna later in the year as to how properties are assessed.
Although the Department of Highways has promised “substantial improvements” to our roads the budget for this includes all Gulf Islands. Salt Spring Island benefited from improvements last year, this year it will be Pender and (hopefully) next year Saturna. The local Ministry of Transportation office suggested that SIPOA should appoint a land owner who could act as the eyes and ears on Saturna to pass information to Bob Webb, the operations manager for the Southern Gulf Islands. In this regard, John Gaines and John Money agreed to make a thorough inspection of islands roads to mark where roads are crumbling and in need of repair. This would serve as a benchmark for the year.
MOVED AND SECONDED (John Money/Murray Rankin)
That John Gaines be appointed by SIPOA as Saturna’s representative to the Department of Highways
c) REVIEW OF TAXATION AND SPENDING BY SATURNA PARKS AND RECREATION
At the request of members through the polling process a subcommittee of the Executive, Bernie Ziegler and Susan Jamieson, are starting work to collect information in this regard.
d) EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CENTRE
Al Stonehouse spoke to concerns about the impact this program may have on taxes. An information meeting with the School Superintendant is planned for June, 2008 to let the community know what this proposal is about. This is an opportunity to become better informed. Judith Reese Thomas will post this information on the SIPOA website when it becomes available.
e) SATURNA AND PARKS CANADA LIASION COMMITTEE REPORT
Ilio Bertolami could not be present to give a report but has sent in a written report that is appended to these minutes. Please see Appendix two.
f) THANKS TO SIPOA
Michael Fry spoke to the feeling of inclusion that weekenders are having and their acceptance in Saturna affairs. He thanked the board for all their hard work on behalf of all Saturna property owners.
MOVED AND SECONDED (Hugh Grasswick/Al Stonehouse)
There being no further business the meeting concluded at 2:20 p.m.
APPENDIX ONE: PRESIDENT’S REPORT
SATURNA ISLAND PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION
Presidents Report -2007 2008
It is now three years since work began on the formation of the Saturna Island Property Owners Association. By any measure our association is now well established and successful. This is largely because of the enthusiasm, support and hard work of members who have worked on specific projects and the on-going work of the Executive Committee. Thank you all.
Before we get into the substantive work of our association I want to mention our approach to communications because it has become the lifeblood of SIPOA.
From the outset it was recognized that the organization would not survive nor would it reflect the will of most property owners if it relied solely on public meetings to communicate. This is because more than 2/3s of island property owners do not live here full time. Thus the internet, direct mail and the Scribbler were seen as the means to create a virtual forum which would be responsive and interactive.
Clearly sipoa@yahoogroups has turned out to be a “user-friendly” means to communicate online. Most of our members are on line and are beginning to recognize the ease with which we all can communicate with each other. The group forum was time-consuming to set up and register members but after the initial start up problems, it now appears that most members who are online are comfortable with posting notices (everything from disaster preparedness to proposals for our local school) and reading Executive Committee reports.
For those members not online, all documents and most letters to and from ministers and other elected representatives are mailed on a regular basis. Two individuals who wish to remain anonymous have taken on the task of duplicating materials and mailings to members. The Executive Committee wishes to thank them for their efforts.
This past year SIPOA has posted articles in the Saturna Scribbler in order to inform non- members of our work. In this regard, I am referring to informing islanders about our work on taxes and pilts.
Further, over the course of the past year, SIPOA has begun a series of on-going meetings and discussions with our MLA, The Honourable Murray Coell and our MP, The Honourable Gary Lunn. We also hosted a public meeting for Murray Coell last summer which was well attended and has yielded benefits. We intend to continue these face to face meetings this coming year – including hosting sessions for our elected officials on the island.
As most of you know, SIPOA went public on July 7, 2006 and invited all Saturna Property owners to become members. The response was immediate with 115 households and businesses signing up by September. Today our 160+ members represent approximately 40% of all private property owners on Saturna, come from a broad cross-section of islanders and from all the neighbourhoods on the island, including Boot Cove, Lyall Harbour, Group of 30, Old Point Farm, Winter Cove, East Point, Saturna Beach and Narvaez Bay. Over 130 members are online.
Each year the Executive asks members to identify and prioritize issues to be investigated by SIPOA. The 35 respondents to our 2008 survey told us the following issues are most important to them, in descending order:
Transportation (roads and ferries)
Fire Protection (emergency services)
Land Use (Parks Canada and Saturna Parks and Recreation)
Community Involvement in Decision-Making
Next year we need to improve on the number of responses to our poll in order to have a better understanding of how the organization can best meet the needs of our members.
Taxation – For the second year, Lorne Bolton, who is a Chartered Accountant developed an information sheet on the property taxes paid, including assessed values by category of taxation and taxation mill rates. The results demonstrated that Saturna Property owners pay over $1,000,000 a year in property taxes to various provincial and regional government agencies. By next year we will have enough data to begin researching the relationship between property assessment and taxes. Hopefully Lorne and others will be able to assist us in this endeavor.
In terms of paying property taxes Ian Smyth reminded members of the BC Property Tax Deferment program . Now that tax time has come again we will repost his article both online and in the Scribbler to remind members and other island property owners of the benefits available to home owners over 55.
Payment in lieu of Taxes (PILTs) – As a result of the taxation analysies it became apparent that approximately $20 million of assessed land on Saturna is now in the new Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Moreover, the national park has created a situation which not only results in lost opportunity costs for the island but lost tax revenue for Saturna Island. This is best illustrated by the fact that last year the province only billed Parks Canada $28,926 for payment in lieu of taxes. Further our research on this matter highlighted that the federal government has not been invoiced for all the park lands on Saturna and Tumbo or for the provincial lands administered by the federal government that are considered part of the national park.
Board member John Money, Tom Johnstone our Island Trustee and I met with Murray Coell on this matter and Tom and I met with BC Assessment and as of June 2008 all Gulf Islands National Park lands on Saturna and Tumbo will be valued so the Surveyor of Taxes will be able to include them in this year’s invoice to the federal government.
This is a complex issue and one aspect yet to be resolved is that presently the federal government arbitrarily decides the assessed values for federal lands and ignores the provincial system for valuing properties. In this regard SIPOA has asked Tom Johnstone to approach Public Works Canada and see if there is any possibility for a review of how federal lands are assessed and the impact on small communities.
Transportation: Roads – Over the past year the board and members have sent letters to our MLA and the Minister of Transportation regarding the deterioration of our roads. Our concern prompted MLA, Murray Coell, to inspect the sorry state of our island roads and he has impressed on the Minister of Transportation the need for immediate road repaving. In this regard the Minister of Transportation has assured SIPOA there will be “significant” work on the roads this year. We have followed up with him as to what he means by significant and are now engaged in discussions with Mainroads General Manager and the local operations manager for the ministry.
In addition to these board initiatives, members have used the SIPOA group forum to inform members about B C. Ferries.
Boot Cove-Lyall Harbour Water District
In October of 2007 SIPOA finalized a review of the effectiveness of the water district, its funds and costs and to see if it is possible for individuals or the community to opt out of the CRD local service area. The Board would like to thank Murray Rankin for his work in this regard.
The bottom line is that SIPOA encouraged members who live in the local service area and who are troubled about the costs, service, proposed upgrades as well as the infrastructure grant we received, to become more involved in their local service area.
Ilio Bertolami and Patricia Sims now sit on the Saturna-Parks Canada Liaison Committee. A report is attached to the AGM minutes.
John Money and Al Stonehouse have been appointed to the Property Assessment Review Board.
PRIORITES FOR THE NEXT YEAR
The Executive Committee will continue its work on taxation, PILT and follow-up to our discussion with Murray Coell and with the Minister of Transportation on roads.
Fire Protection and Ambulance Services are rated as important priorities for members and it appears discussions are underway to house both services on Rec Centre property. The Fire Protection Society has been proactive about keeping property owners informed of their activities and how they are spending our tax dollars which our members appreciate. SIPOA has not had any direct discussions with the ambulance committee to see if we can contribute in some way.
Because it continues to be an issue of concern to many members the Executive Committee has assigned a sub-committee to research how our tax dollars are collected and spent by the Saturna Island Parks and Recreation Commission.
One last comment on new priorities; SIPOA is a member driven organization and is only able to do as much as our volunteers contribute. As a result we need to hear from all members regarding what other initiatives you want SIPOA to undertake and the time you are willing to commit. Our meeting today is but one way to solicit ideas about issues we need to focus on in the coming year.
Finally, on behalf of our members I would like to thank the outgoing Executive Committee members – Brian Haley who has been our treasurer, John Gaines and Nick Kaiser for their work. We also want to thank all SIPOA members for their support and we look forward to continuing our work together.
PARKS AND RECREATION REPORT
A summary of the last parks-liaison meeting:
Parks Canada clearly wants to facilitate a small number of campsites at what they consider desirable and low environmental impact sites. I gathered that the method of management was to offer a small number of sites requiring minimal supervision. To questions regarding possible abuse of campsites and reporting by local residents, Parks confirmed their desire to be notified directly and would endeavour to make their emergency numbers easily available. The other major issue was regarding the necessity to control the very destructive potential posed by unchecked feral goat herds. The three property owners on and affected by the herds of goats on the cliffs agree that program to control overall size must be implemented. Parks staff reported that budgets for eradication and culling programs were already consumed by current projects. Saturna posed a simple but also a difficult solution. Simple in as much as the removal of the goats, including total elimination is quite possible. The difficulty appears to be in ascertaining the most sustainable number and the mechanism to maintain that number. Most importantly however is the challenge that we face in considering that a powerful animal roams upon a spectacular and fragile area of Saturna, ever increasing, unaffected by natural predators we eliminated and now we have become the top predator with the responsibility to protect that ecosystem. Parks staff requested a response from the island as to the size of a herd as may be considered acceptable, and a starting point of discussion. Obviously this issue, sensitive in many ways must be discussed by a meeting of the parks liaison/island trustees, must have more information, (existing goat herd numbers) and more liaison/consultation with Parks. Ron Hamilton announced that he will be retired by the time of the next Park-liaison meeting, glad I’m sure to leave this hot-potato to someone else.