Mission has begun the process to allow residents to decide whether to reclassify from the District of Mission to the City of Mission.
The decision to explore the reclassification and the “alternative approval” process to gauge the public’s opinion have been open for much debate on social media platforms.
However, there is some concern at city hall that the information being discussed, and points being made, may not be entirely accurate.
Mission Mayor Pam Alexis sat down with the Mission Record on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
“There sounds like there is much misinformation out there about what a status change will mean to our community… Rest assured, council would never embark along this path unless there was potential to improve the lives of our citizens,” Alexis said.
Why are we doing this?
Alexis believes a change in classification won’t impact people’s day-to-day lives.
“We are working on the greater good here. We are working on leveling the playing field with the reliance on the resident as far as our tax base goes.”
Mission needs to attract more businesses to invest and expand into the community and Alexis said being a district is a disadvantage.
“I believe district implies rural, smallness and not necessarily ready… Because we are different, we have to work harder to get into the race.”
She said that when a business begins to look for a location in the Fraser Valley and can choose the City of Chilliwack, the City of Abbotsford or the District of Mission, this community is immediately one step behind.
“This (the classification change) will help us to get our foot in the door so that we, too, can be just as competitive as our neighbours.
“We are a city by all stretches of the imagination, but we are not regarded as that from the outside.”
Alexis said the change doesn’t really impact local residents.
“This is for the outside world and for the greater good of our community and it’s much more long term. Short-term benefits, I don’t know that we are going to see anything, but I’m hopeful, over the long term, that status change will mean we receive the same opportunities as our neighbours, bring in more businesses and relieve the burden on the residential tax base.”
What will it cost?
According to some Facebook posts, voters believe the eventual cost to change from a district to a city could surpass the $1 million mark, which Alexis said is completely unfounded.
“The cost has now morphed (on Facebook) into some astronomical figure. It’s $8,500 to do this alternate electoral process.”
After the decision has been made, a staff report originally predicted a cost of up to $190,000 to roll out the new classification, create an improved website and create a branding process.
That proposed figure – which council has not approved yet – has been reduced to $167,000.
Alexis said that, even if voters say no to the change, council will still consider moving forward with visioning and branding exercises and improvements to the website.
“It’s part of our strategic objectives.”
Other Facebook comments that Alexis want to address include:
Will council get big raises?
“Absolutely not. It doesn’t change anything with the day-to-day operation of this municipality.”
But taxes will go up?
“No, they are not. Taxes will not be increased as a result of a status change.”
Why are we changing our name?
“It’s not a name change, it’s a classification change. Mission will still be Mission.
“It’s a legal entity. We can’t be Mission City; we must be, if we succeed, the City of Mission.”
But the mayor said that will be for legal purposes only.
Why do only negative votes get cast?
Alexis said the alternative-approval process is simple. Notice of the reclassification is circulated to resident electors and non-resident property owners. If the district receives objections or opposing responses from more than 10 per cent of electors, then the idea does not move forward.
“We were looking for the least costly process to embark on. The City of Delta undertook the same process … We worked with the Ministry of Municipal
Affairs and Housing to find the best process.”
She also noted that a full referendum would costs tens of thousand more to hold.
Did we miss funding opportunities?
There are some funds that are only available to cities.
“Apparently, there was something that the archives had applied for that we were disqualified for because we weren’t a city.
“A city is defined as a place with more than 5,000 people, so really, we should have done this a long time ago.”
Just the facts
“Some people go to Facebook for answers. I don’t know that necessarily you can get answers out of a group of individuals who perhaps aren’t as connected. I’ve alway encouraged people if you have a question, send me an email, call me. I answer questions all the time. I’ll happily give you the facts.”
Alexis can be reached at 604-820-3702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The alternative-approval process has begun. Forms will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 11.
Elector response forms will be available on the district’s website (mission.ca) and by request at municipal hall, Welton Common and the Mission Leisure Centre.
The area for the alternative-approval process will be the entire District of Mission.
The estimated total number of electors in that area is 28,735. That means 2,873 people need to officially oppose the change to defeat it.