Cortes Island Director Noba Anderson wants the Strathcona Regional District board to consider holding one of its meeting on Cortes instead of in Campbell River.
Anderson said it’s difficult for directors to relate to one another when they don’t understand where they’ve come from.
“It is exceedingly hard to think and work as a region if we do not know each other,” Anderson said.
“Spending time together in our respective communities, doing our work together throughout the region and giving ourselves the chance to showcase to each other some of the good work taking place where we live can only strengthen this sense of common purpose.”
Anderson extended an invitation to the board to come out to Cortes Island.
“We would travel together by water taxi to Cortes and spend the day together partly in a regularly scheduled meeting or strategic planning session while also making time to receive some local delegations, tour a park, the free store and the medical clinic,” she said.
“I would love to do this over the course of time, to rotate meetings as appropriate within our regional district,” Anderson added.
“It really gives a sense of unity in knowing the community.”
Since last summer, directors have debated the merits of hosting meetings in one of the communities within the regional district, such as Cortes Island, Zeballos, Gold River or Sayward, instead of the usual meeting site in Campbell River.
A report last year from regional district staff informed the board that taking meetings on the road would cost anywhere from double to more than triple the current cost of hosting a meeting.
According to that report, the regional district spends $1,870 to hold a board meeting at its Cedar Street offices in Campbell River ($1,280 for directors’ travel, $320 for food, and $270 for agendas) while, for example, estimates to hold a meeting in Zeballos were up to $6,160, up to $5,550 on Cortes and up to $4,740 in Gold River.
Anderson said she figures that meeting on Cortes would cost less than $900 return for the water taxi, $100 for the hall rental and roughly the same price as what the regional district usually pays for lunch.
Anderson also offered to work with staff on the logistics.
The board allocated funds in its 2016 budget to ‘road trip’ to other communities for meetings but the board has had its hesistations in moving outside its usual boardroom.
Costs, and accessibility to constituents have all been concerns to some diretors.
At last week’s board meeting,
Area D Director Brenda Leigh said she was not opposed to going to Cortes but reminded the board that it previously made a commitment to Area D before plans were scuttled because of the departure of the regional district’s former CAO, Russ Hotsenpiller.
Last October, the board elected to hold its strategic planning session in Area D at the Oyster Bay Resort which came with a rental fee of $236.25 Monday to Thursday, $420 on Fridays and a $461 charge for catering.
“The costs are minimal, the connectivity is great, there wouldn’t be as much travel involved,” Leigh said.
“Not to preclude Cortes, but just to remind the board that we were about to book the hall and everything and then we had a changeover in CAO and it fell through the cracks.”
Area A Director Gerald Whalley suggested that the board try going to Area D first before committing to go to Cortes.
“Perhaps it’s a little premature until after we’ve all met joyfully in Area D and see how that works out,” Whalley said.
“If it doesn’t work out, then we’re not wasting our time going any further.”
In the end, the board voted to have regional district staff review the plans for a meeting in Area D and investigate the logistics and costs associated with conducting either a regular or special board meeting on Cortes.