CAOs balk at single membership

THEY SAID IT: “CAOs...expressed little interest in pursuing the initiative”
– Tom Yates, Acting CAO

The Strathcona Regional District will continue to exclude its municipalities from its membership to a nation-wide advocacy group.

The regional district’s board of directors made that decision after learning that chief administrative officers from each of the regional district’s municipalities were less than lukewarm to the idea of a joint membership.

“This matter was raised with the CAOs (chief administrative officers) of the various municipalities within the region who expressed little interest in pursuing the initiative,” said Tom Yates, acting CAO for the regional district.

“It is therefore recommended that no further resources be expended on this matter.”

The board, at its Jan. 28 meeting, agreed and decided to drop the item.

The regional district had been exploring a regional membership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) whereby all of the municipalities and electoral areas in the Strathcona Regional District would be covered under one membership.

Currently, only the four electoral areas are under the regional district’s membership while each of the five municipalities have their own.

Regional district staff had been exploring the option of a regional membership, however, in a bid to save money.

Russ Hotsenpiller, the former CAO of the regional district, said in 2014 – when the matter was originally brought forward to the board – that based on information from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, there would be a collective savings of $700 for all of the municipalities and electoral areas if memberships were renewed through the regional district.

He said those savings would be realized through the elimination of annual base fees that form a part of each individual membership.

When the issue was first brought to the board nearly two years ago, then-Campbell River Director Claire Moglove was concerned that the city could lose its autonomy by moving to a regional membership.

She said she preferred the Union of British Columbia Municipalities model where municipalities are independent and approach the group with their own individual issues.

Hotsenpiller, however, had assured the board that “moving to a regional model for membership would not affect the ability of municipal councillors or electoral area directors to participate in the affairs of the FCM” nor would it “constrain the ability of municipal councils to independently sponsor resolutions or otherwise identify issues for consideration by the FCM.”

Still, at that time, the board voted to defer making a decision on a regional FCM membership until Hotsenpiller had the opportunity to engage the municipal CAOs.

Upon learning there was little interest among those managers, the board voted last week to not pursue a regional membership and to remove the matter from the board’s list of outstanding items.