Sandspit incorporation being studied

The provincial government is launching a feasibility study on the incorporation of Sandspit.

The provincial government is launching a feasibility study on the incorporation of Sandspit after receiving requests from the Skeena — Queen Charlotte Regional District (SQCRD).

Barry Pages, SQCRD board chair, said the regional district had been requesting the province look at the viability of Sandspit’s incorporation for a number of years.

“It’s a request we received from the community. Sandspit has its own water system and a lot of amenities that makes it a community,” he said.

The SQCRD contacted the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development via letter in January, receiving a response from the ministry stating it will undertake preliminary research.

“I recognize your view that Sandspit is more like other small municipalities than a rural area,” said Minister Coralee Oakes in a letter to the board.

“Understanding the general profile of a community is an important part of determining whether or not a change in governance structure should be studied. As I am sure you can appreciate, in a time of scarce Ministry resources, we have to focus provincial funding for studies on places that would clearly be viable municipalities if incorporated.”

Oakes also said she is “aware that Sandspit faces real challenges of a declining population, high infrastructure costs and a narrow tax base”.

“I believe that it would be helpful if you had a clearer picture of how those challenges affect the potential viability of a municipality,” she said.

The ministry will start its research in the fall, with the SQCRD offering support and assistance throughout the process.

“We’re looking forward to receiving more information,” said Pages.

If the community is incorporated, it would move from being an electoral area with one board representative to having a full mayor and council.