Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, Utah, receive 3.5 million visitors a year and are especially busy this time of year when families flock to the canyons to take a walk or family portraits among the fall colors. To put that into perspective, Big Cottonwood Canyon receives 75% of the visitors of Yellowstone, but in a geographic footprint that is 1% of its size.
“People love it here,” said Barbara Cameron, Chair of the Big Cottonwood Canyon Community Council.
But to sustain the increasing amount of visitors, the area is desperate for funding to improve the services to support this recreation, notably toilets, trails, and traffic. Residents have been trying to ask Salt Lake County and the mayor’s office for years to see the numbers for how much sales tax money comes out of the canyon from businesses and ski areas, versus how much is actually invested back in.
In order to find out, they needed to launch a petition to incorporate Brighton as a town—because it’d spark the state to start a study.
The state elections office said Friday that meant signatures from 20% of private property owners and 20% of registered voters in the proposed boundary area. They received the petition Tuesday, and now they’ll spend 20 days processing the paperwork. After that, they’ll hire an outside firm, for about $20,000, to conduct a study to see whether it’s feasible to become a town.
While many residents in the area are absolutely for the incorporation, a number of people are against it. They’re worried that this will give lease to completely develop the area, but residents in the know claim that protections are already in place to prevent huge development.
The Brighton incorporation petition follows that of residents in a 2015 successful effort where residents in four neighborhoods voted to transform Millcreek Township into Millcreek city.
Ultimately if the town incorporation question moves forward, it will end up on the June 2018 ballot. And if successful, it won’t mean taxes will be lowered or raised, but that residents will have a greater say over how revenue is spent.