New Funding Model

    Why is this needed?

    Right now, the division of costs for the region’s most-used facilities puts an unfair financial burden on some areas, and needs to be adjusted.

    There have been attempts made in the past to address the unequal funding of some of these regionally significant facilities including two-tiered fee systems for contributing/non-contributing areas, negotiated funding contributions and alternate approval processes. These have not addressed the funding issue in a long-term or sustainable way.

    Will this change how much I pay on my property taxes?

    Yes, each electoral area and municipal jurisdiction within the CVRD will be affected differently – for some, the taxes will decrease and for some the taxes will increase. Because some areas are overpaying right now, this new model seeks to balance out costs. Specific cost impacts can be seen on the main page of this project site.

    How was it decided to move forward with this funding model?

    CVRD staff have worked extensively with industry-leading consultants to provide the CVRD Board with a number of different options for equitable funding. In January 2020, the Board chose this usage-based funding model to go to referendum.

    Which recreation facilities are included in this new funding model?

    Through extensive research and engagement, the following 9 regionally significant recreation facilities have been identified as being included in this new funding model:

    Will the ownership of these facilities change as a result of this new funding model?

    No. The ownership and operation of these facilities will not change, regardless of the outcome of this referendum.

    How are these facilities currently funded?

    These regionally significant facilities all have different ownership/governance models. Five are owned and operated by the CVRD, three are owned and operated by municipalities, one is owned by a municipality and operated by a non-profit society.

    How will funding be determined in the new model?

    Under the proposed new funding model, each municipality/electoral area’s contribution amount to a facility will be based on the amount their residents use it. For example: if 10% of the aquatic centre’s users come from one electoral area, that electoral area will pay 10% of the costs.

    How will "usage" be calculated?

    Facility users will identify what area they’re from during the study period, which runs for approximately 6 months every 5 years. Usage data will be collected every five years and the contribution for each area will be based on a rolling average of the last three collection cycles. This will reduce sudden or unexpected changes from one-cycle to next.

    We collect this data using 4 streams:

    1. Drop-in Uses: where a patron decides on a use-by-use basis to use the facility, and often pays a user fee to use a facility during a public use session;
    2. Program Uses: where a user typically pre-commits, through a registration process, to a series of uses, usually involving some form of instruction, and then attends for most or all of those programmed uses;
    3. Rental Uses: where a group or individual rents a space or a portion of a space and then controls the uses and users of that rented space for the period of the rental;
    4. Memberships: where some users of the Cowichan Aquatic Centre have a membership to use the facility

    Is the usage data considered statistically valid?

    Yes. The total accuracy of this data is at least (or better than) a combined confidence level of +/- 2% (or 98% accuracy), 19 times out of 20.

    Does this mean that the facilities will get more money?

    Currently, the maximum amount that can be taxed for all 9 regionally significant recreation facilities combined is approximately $35 million, although the actual amount that is taxed is approximately $16 million. The intent of the referendum is not that facilities get more money. The intent of the referendum is to change how the actual amount taxed ($16 million) will be divided to each area.

    What types of funding are included under this model?

    Day-to-day operations and short-term capital (e.g. replacement of a leaky roof or a malfunctioning piece of existing equipment needing replacing) are both required to maintain the current level of service, and are included under this new model. Significant additions to a facility and/or incurring long term debt to develop a new facility will be addressed separately from this model.

    What will happen to reserve funds that currently exist for these facilities? Will they be combined into the new Regional Recreation budget?

    Reserve funds will remain in place (status quo) during the phase-in years and a plan for these reserves after 2025 is currently in the works.

    How will debt associated with specific facilities be divided out under this new funding model?

    Existing debt will remain with the taxpayers in the jurisdictions that authorized it in the first place. Under the new model, other jurisdictions will participate in the operation of a specific regional recreation function, but those other jurisdictions will not be forced to participate in debt servicing after the fact. Any new debts in the future that are not associated with this new funding model (e.g. a new capital infrastructure project) will require new authorization from voters.

    What about the 4 community halls that were included in Cowichan Lake Recreation budget previously?

    The 4 community halls (Centennial Hall, Mesachie Lake Community Hall; Honeymoon Bay Community Hall and Youbou Community Hall/Youbou Lanes) will not be included in this new funding model and were not included in the usage study or funding calculations; only the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena will be included.

    Who will provide governance over the 9 regionally significant recreation facilities if everyone in the region is paying for them under this new funding model?

    The Board is still in the process of deciding how to move forward with governance. In the meantime, governance will remain the same until the 3rd year of the phase-in (2025).

    The Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission will remain in place indefinitely to govern the 4 community halls in the Cowichan Lake area.

    Will local First Nations' be included in this new funding model?

    Residences on reserves were not included in the funding model. Any contributions from First Nations will be used to reduce tax requisition or pay for necessary capital items.

    Will this new funding model be reviewed once implemented?

    Yes. We plan to review the new funding model once it has been in place for 6 years.

    If this new funding model is adopted, when will it be implemented?

    If the funding model is voted in, then it will be phased-in over 3 years starting in 2023 (2023 – 2025) to ease the impacts that the funding changes will have on taxpayers.

    How will the phasing-in be implemented?

    Phasing-in the new funding model over 3 years would be implemented as follows:

    • Year One (2023) would be 1/3 based on usage and 2/3 based on existing funding methods
    • Year Two (2024) would be 2/3 based on usage and 1/3 based on existing funding methods 
    • Year Three (2025) would be based fully on usage (and every year moving forward)

    What happens if the referendum is voted down?

    A new funding model is necessary to address inequity in facility funding. If this new regional service is not approved, alternatives such as negotiated financial contributions or two-tiered facility fees could be implemented to ensure all areas are paying closer to their fair share.

    What about other recreation services in the region?

    All recreation services outside of what is provided through the 9 regionally significant recreation facilities are excluded from this referendum and will remain unchanged.


    What is a referendum?

    A referendum (also known as ‘Assent Voting’) allows residents / electors to vote on whether a proposal will move forward or not. See here for more details:

    What will I actually be voting for or against on election day?

    This referendum is asking you to vote on the adoption of a proposed bylaw (No. 4438) that will change the way recreation services are funded in the Cowichan region for the 9 regionally significant recreation facilities. The proposed change is that funding will be based on the usage of these facilities and will be more equitable than the current model.

    What is the referendum question?

    The referendum question is: Are you in favour of the Cowichan Valley Regional District adopting “CVRD Bylaw No. 4438 - Regional Recreation Funding Services Establishment Bylaw, 2022”, to establish a new regional funding model replacing the current Recreation Services to fund the usage based costs of 9 Regionally Significant Recreation Facilities that include the: Cowichan Aquatic Centre; Cowichan Community Centre; Cowichan Lake Sports Arena; Cowichan Performing Arts Centre; Cowichan Sportsplex; Frank Jameson Community Centre; Fuller Lake Arena; Kerry Park Recreation Centre; and Shawnigan Lake Community Centre, and annually requisition the greater of up to $35,000,000, or an amount equal to the amount that could be raised by a property tax rate of $1.1954 per $1,000 of the net taxable value of land and improvements within the service area?”

    The referendum question will require a “Yes” or “No” answer.

    What geographic areas are included in this referendum?

    Every jurisdiction that falls under the Cowichan Valley Regional District, as follows:


    • Town of Lake Cowichan
    • Town of Ladysmith
    • City of Duncan
    • Municipality of North Cowichan



    • Area A (Mill Bay / Malahat) 
    • Area B (Shawnigan Lake)
    • Area C (Cobble Hill)
    • Area D (Cowichan Bay)
    • Area E (Cowichan Station / Sahtlam / Glenora)
    • Area F (Cowichan Lake South / Skutz Falls)
    • Area G (Saltair / Gulf Islands)
    • Area H (North Oyster / Diamond)
    • Area I (Youbou / Meade Creek)

    Can this service be turned down in some areas and approved in others?

    The referendum is regional – which means that either all areas will participate or it will not proceed. To be successful, the referendum will have more than 50% of votes collectively across the region vote in favour of the new model.

    How is the voting weighted?

    The voting for this referendum will be regional and based on a majority vote (e.g. equal to 50% + 1 vote or greater)

    Where do I vote?

    The referendum question will be on the local government ballot October 15, 2022 and at advanced voting opportunities (October 5 and 12 for Town of Ladysmith and Town of Lake Cowichan; October 5 and 11 for all other areas). Voters will cast their ballot on this at the same time as voting for councillors, mayors, electoral area directors and school district trustees. Watch for election information to be mailed, posted at city hall or online, with details about your local voting place, hours and advanced poll opportunities.

    When do I vote?

    You will be voting on this referendum at the same time as your local government elections. Election Day is October 15, 2022, but you will also have an opportunity to vote on advanced voting days (October 5 and 12 for Town of Ladysmith and Town of Lake Cowichan; October 5 and 11 for all other areas). Watch for election information to be mailed, posted at city hall or online, with details about your local voting place, hours and advanced poll opportunities.

    Am I eligible to vote?

    If you are eligible to vote in the local government election, you are eligible to vote for the referendum. 

    Visit for more information about eligibility, registration and any requirements on voting day.