Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Moralea Milne for Metchosin Council 2014

For the past 6 years I have worked to serve the people of Metchosin to the best of my ability and I want to thank you for that honour and privilege. You have had a council that has been highly functional, we have been civil, respectful and, I believe, representative of our entire, diverse community. It’s been a pleasure to sit on this council.
Twenty-five years ago, when I first drove into Metchosin and my future home, I was immediately captivated by the rural ambiance, the winding roads and the scenic beauty of this municipality. Since then I have raised my children, laid my husband to rest and found a true home and sense of community here.

I arrived here without any knowledge or inclination towards the landscape and environment that would eventually shape my entire value system. As you can see from the articles I have written and placed on my blog, I have embraced our cultural, social and natural communities.

My vision of Metchosin into the future is one that closely mirrors our OCP, still a relevant and excellent document after almost 30 years. We are a municipality, that despite being surrounded by urban development, remains determinedly green and rural. I see us as a community that is a model to others on how to control costs and live within our means, and that we demonstrate that there are other measures of success besides growth.

For twelve years I owned a successful retail business, employing twenty staff and producing about $1,000,000 in annual revenues. I believe in fiscal prudence; budgets have to be managed conservatively, especially in these uncertain times. 

Previous councils have ensured that Metchosin has an enviable financial standing. As Chair of Finance I have built on the sound financial practices of past councils to ensure that our finances have remained in the black with very low tax increases.

I want to assure everyone that Metchosin’s finances are in very good order, probably some of the best in the province. We have a healthy reserve, we are in the black, we have NO DEBT, our tax increases are within the cost of living increases. Despite having one of the higher residential assessments in the CRD, we have one of the lowest residential taxes. 

In this term I have initiated a Long Term Financial Sustainability Plan that has enshrined many of our practices into policies that will maintain our long history of financial prudence. As part of the plan we have developed a number of policies: 
  • Reserves and Surplus Policy that allows us to plan for long term infrastructure, operating, and capital costs, without incurring debt, 
  • Debt Policy which adheres to a 'pay-as-you-go', 'no debt financing' philosophy, 
  • Structural Balance Policy which states that ongoing operating costs will be covered by ongoing revenue sources and not by non-recurring resources such as asset sales or reserves, 
  • Policy on Assistance to Community Groups, to bring consistency and fairness to the treatment of those groups seeking Council's financial and non-financial assistance..

We manage the maintenance of our infrastructure so that it is affordable and remains in good repair, decreasing the need for more costly upgrades.

As far as the police tax goes, we might, at some point in the future, be mandated into a new funding formula if our population goes over 5,000.

At that point, we, as a municipality, will be responsible for additional costs. But, as a taxpayer, you are already responsible for much of those costs. On your overall tax bill, you pay the province, on average, $120/yr for a police tax, that the province then pays to the RCMP. If our cost formula changes, you would still be paying that $120/yr, but it would be paid to the municipality, who then pass it on to the province, for the RCMP. 

Think of it like this...You have two children who start university. One chooses UVic and the other chooses SFU, you pay $100 tuition to each school (we wish!), for a total of $200. The next year, both children decide to attend UVic. So now, you don't pay anything to SFU, but you have increased your spending at UVic (aka tax increase) by 100%. But you are still only spending $200. That's a very simplified version of what will happen. Of course, the RCMP contract is in negotiation with the province right now and we have no say in the final contract and we will still have to work out a formula with the Westshore, but we are diligently looking at ways to keep the police tax sustainable.

So, our municipal taxes will increase, maybe by as a much as 10 or 11%, just for police costs, but your tax bill will be offset by a decrease in the elimination of what you now pay directly to the province. We also have $1.1 million in a police tax reserve that will ease us into any other costs that might be associated with these changes.

Someone mentioned that we should have accumulated 4.5 million in the police reserve account. Well, it seems financially remiss to me to let 3.5 million more than you need sit in a bank account, collecting very little interest, when the money can be used to pay down our infrastructure deficit. In the last 7 years council has used that money to rebuild two new bridges (Bilston and Morrow), purchase 2 fire engines, an ATV, a new rescue vehicle, upgrade the community house, build a works yard, repave the majority of our roads to a high standard, upgrade street lights to a Night Sky friendly and more cost effective alternative, purchase a new district truck and other equipment to help maintain our roads infrastructure.

We are looking after the District’s infrastructure so that won’t come back and haunt us, like it has for many communities.

Now for a rant....

In 2011 the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) has recently reported that Metchosin is in some sort of spending free fall, with a 111% increase in per capita spending from 2000-2009, even though they also report we have the lowest per capita spending on Vancouver Island and that we are better than all but two other municipalities in all of BC. We are rated 151 out of 153, with 1 being the worst ranking. I think they have a flawed report with wildly different amounts reported. Page 10 lists Metchosin's 2009 operating spending per capita at $626.00, while on page 26, it states the same 2009 operating spending per capita at $535.00. In any case, I would dispute those numbers, as they don't seem to take into account the construction of the Morrow Bridge, which is not an operating cost, nor the money we put into capital reserves.

The CFIB has an agenda to get commercial tax rates lowered and whatever you think about that concept, you should know that lowering commercial rates would significantly increase residential tax rates, to make up for the shortfall their reduction would cost. In Metchosin, the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILTs) that the federal government pays to us for the use of DND lands and William Head Institute are based on the commercial tax rate. The PILT's account for about 30% of our tax base, so any decrease in them will mean an increase in residential taxes or other equally serious implications on the nature of Metchosin and our rural status.

One of their flawed strategies for looking at increases in per capita spending is that they acknowledge but don't take into account the differential that you experience when you are a small municipality with a relatively small budget, compared to a larger municipality. An example of this kind of flawed reporting is to consider a company paying someone $1/day and then give a $1 increase to $2/day, another company is pays someone $100/day and they also give an increase of $1 to $101/day. In the first case there is a 100% increase in spending and in the second case there is a 1% increase. But both companies have only spent $1. When you are working with relatively small numbers, percentages can be wildly affected by even very small increases.

So despite our low taxes, substantial reserves, no debt, and lowest spending per capita, we are still ranked as a huge offender in looking after our residents' finances. With business sense like this, it's no wonder so many businesses fail.

Listening to the Village businesses, we have started on a bike shelter, to make the village centre more cyclist friendly. We have also been adding some pavement to road shoulders, where possible, to increase cyclists' comfort in using our roads. This is an expensive undertaking and will be done when paving projects dictate possibilities.


In 1999 I decided to move my interests from business to the environment and in 2002 I graduated from the University of Victoria's "Restoration of Natural Systems" diploma program in environmental restoration and have since worked and volunteered in this field.

You elected me knowing my passion for preserving the environment and the processes that protect and foster our clean air and water and supply habitat for our native species. It will come as no surprise that I still hold those beliefs above all others. Any decision I make has been, and always will be, filtered for its effect on the environment. I am deeply concerned that our senior levels of government seem to be ignoring the potentially devastating consequences of climate change and I would like to see Metchosin viewed as a leader in the CRD. We have managed to maintain much of our forested landscape, which acts as a carbon sink by storing C02 emissions, and through the good stewardship of many residents, our creeks and shoreline are basically clean and able to support the demands we place on them. I have initiated the Sustainability Report, providing a structure which enables us to adapt to climate change and increasing fuel costs; the Parks Report, assigning an ecological value to potential parkland; the Veitch Creek Report, which shows a baseline picture of disturbances affecting the creek and landowners; a Shoreline Report that highlights the benefits of, and risks to, our shoreline, a Saving Our Shorelines brochure that is intended to provide some voluntary steps that can be taken to preserve our vibrant and abundant marine ecosystems and a report on Tree Management. I also brought forward a policy to protect our night skies and as a council we have endorsed the solar hot water ready program.


It is the root from which this community sprang; from early times First Nations people used Metchosin meadows for their important camas harvests. In this era of global climate change, uncertain financial markets, food safety scares and unstable oil prices, it is prudent to maintain our farming heritage. Cheap imported produce is not something we should take for granted and developing our local food sources should be encouraged.

Many of us have driven down Taylor Road in the spring just to watch the lambs racing around the field, kicking and twisting in the air in their exuberance. We also thoroughly enjoy the lamb and salmon bar-b-que after a long, pleasant Metchosin Day. However, there is a step between the lambs at Taylor Road and the dinner at Metchosin Day and that step involves the death and processing of those lambs. If we want to continue to enjoy the springtime sights and the delicious meals of local lamb, beef, pork and chicken, then we will need to come to terms with the need for a new abattoir in Metchosin. For many years I lived on Rocky Point Road, barely a block from the Winfall Road abattoir and I never once realised it was there. In that highly regulated industry, every precaution is taken to ensure environmental standards are met and exceeded. Having an abattoir in Metchosin also greatly reduces the stress on the animals being sent on their last journey, giving them a more humane end.

Another aspect to food security is the protection of Metchosin's shoreline. Many forage fish, who make up a critical portion of salmonids' diets rely on pristine sand and gravel beaches for their breeding grounds. If we want to be able to fish sustainably, then shoreline protection is vitally important.

Beecher Bay/Scia'New and Metchosin Council

Beecher Bay/Scia'New and Metchosin

As Council Liaison with our neighbours and friends of Beecher Bay, I initiated council to council forums and was successful in having our two communities sign a Memorandum of Understanding that acknowledges our sincere desire to work together in harmony, for mutual benefit. We continue to meet and share our plans and concerns.

Memorandum of Understanding

Working with Councillor Mitchell, we were able to effectively lobby to have the Velodrome reopened and I will continue to work for the long term viability of Westshore Parks and Recreation, one of our regions finest assets. As Chair of the Policy Committee I have directed the development of a Board Policy Manual, so that board members all understand their duties, and responsibilities and a policy on Operational Sustainability by:
  1. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  2. Reducing energy use
  3. Reducing waste generated;
  4. Improving water efficiency; and
  5. Greening the supply chain (i.e., asset and material management).

Detached Secondary Suites

As Council, we have followed the results of the referendum and allowed either a secondary suite within a home OR a detached secondary suite.

Seniors and the Differently Abled

Many seniors struggle with isolation, depression and financial security. I believe we should find ways to allow residents, not just seniors, but any resident with special needs, etc., to stay in their homes and to that end I have supported the establishment and financing of the new Seniors Information Resource Centre (SIRC).   Remaining independent and active is a critical component of maintaining the health needed to remain in your home, in your community.

Arts and Culture:

I support the arts and cultural activities in Metchosin. The Community House, the Community Hall, the new Metchosin Arts and Cultural Centre Association (MACCA) and the Metchosin Museum are important pillars in our community, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and with many different talents and qualities that they can share with others.

I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I believe in the power of consultation and brainstorming. Getting a group of concerned citizens sitting around a table can produce new ideas and innovative solutions, it can also help develop a strong sense of shared community values.

There comes a point when tough decisions have to be made, when you've consulted and brainstormed and listened and it comes down to using your judgment to make a decision that is best for the whole community. That's what you will elect me to do.

Thank you for the past 6 years, they have been highly instructive, endlessly fascinating and, I hope you believe I have served you well and that I might have your vote once again.

My Council Service:

Chair of Finance and Environment               5 years
Chair of Parks and Trails                              1 year
Council Liaison with MEASC (Environmental Advisory Committee) 6 years
Council Liaison with Beecher Bay/Scia'New 6 years
Library Board 6 years
Library Finance Committee (Chair)
Arts Committee 6 years
Westshore Parks and Recreation (WSPRS) Board 5 years
WSPRS Strategic Planning Committee
WSPRS Capital Planning Committee
WSPRS Finance Committee
WSPRS Policy Committee (Chair)

My Community Service:
Member of Metchosin Environmental Advisory Select Committee (MEASC) for 14 years
Pod leader while living on William Head Road
Current warden and leader of broom removal group at Devonian Regional Park for 12 years.

Author of dozens of articles for the Muse on Metchosin's natural history and other community related issues. You can read many of them on this blog.
Planted and maintain the municipal and community house gardens.
Member of the Green and Blue Spaces Strategy Committee for 3 years.
Former treasurer for the Association for the Protection of a Rural Metchosin for 3 years.
Former author and publisher of the Native Plant Study Group newsletter for 4 years (
Former Director of the Native Plant Society of BC
Former Member of the Native Plant Propagation Steering Committee of GOERT
I have organised:
Talk and Walk events (70!)
Fireproof Metchosin Day

MEASC Metchosin Day booth where we give away hundreds of native plant seedlings

Firehall Auxiliary
Orphan Garden Rescue
Metchosin Friend of the Earth Award-2002

Metchosin Volunteer of the Year Award-2006
Acorn Award-2008 (
Endangered Sharp-tailed Snake
I Walk the Talk  
In 2004 my late husband, John Webb, and myself, in partnership with Habitat Acquisition Trust and The Land Conservancy, started working towards placing a conservation covenant on our property, to ensure the long term protection of the rare and threatened ecosystems and species that call Camas Hill home. In particular the federally recognised species at risk, the sharp-tailed snakes (Contia tenuis), that reside here. This was successfully completed in August of 2007.
For further discussion, please contact me at 478-3838 or