Changes to the Local Government Act posed difficulties for Strathcona Regional District directors at its last board meeting.
Directors had differing opinions on how to conduct its inaugural meeting later this year after learning the province is directing regional districts to change when those meetings are held.
Tom Yates, the regional district’s corporate services manager, told the board that the province is now requiring regional districts to hold inaugural meetings at the first board meeting after Nov. 1 of each year.
Up until now, directors held those meetings – at which the board elects its chair and vice-chair – at the first board meeting after Dec. 1.
Last month, regional district staff proposed moving the inaugural meeting to Nov. 9 – the first board meeting scheduled after Nov. 1 – but directors wanted more options before making a decision.
At the June 30 board meeting, Yates reported back to the board that staff’s hands are tied.
“The reality is the board’s first meeting after Nov. 1 has to be an inaugural meeting,” Yates said, adding the changes are meant to help officials adapt to changes coming in 2018 that will move municipal elections from November to October.
That left the board with limited options.
Yates said the board could keep its original schedule, which has Dec. 8 slated for the inaugural meeting, but that would mean the board could not meet until then in order to meet the requirement of having the inaugural at the first meeting after Nov. 1.
“This would not be recommended as it would result in all business of the board being placed on hold for approximately six weeks and possibly longer,” Yates said.
Meanwhile, the board also played out different scenarios in order to retain the traditional format of the inaugural meeting in which board business is not conducted other than the election of the chair and vice-chair and is followed by a dinner and reception.
Area C Director Jim Abram suggested the board continue with that practice and hold the inaugural meeting on Nov. 9 but then schedule a Nov. 17 board meeting to conduct regular business and scrap the scheduled Nov. 24 board meeting, which would leave less time between the last board meeting in October and the next board meeting in November for regular board business.
Cortes Island Director Noba Anderson suggested keeping the existing board schedule and conducting regular business at the inaugural meeting.
“I’ve never been a fan of not doing our regular business at the inaugural, I’ve always voted against that,” Anderson said. “I’d like to keep everything as is and not have a party after. I’d rather keep that after the meeting in December to have our dinner, to keep that end of the year wrap up.”
In the end, the board voted to move the inaugural meeting to Nov. 9 and conduct regular board business at that meeting.
Adams then put forward a motion to change the 2 p.m. start time of the Dec. 8 meeting, which will no longer be the inaugural meeting, to 12:30 p.m. – the board’s usual meeting start time. That, however, was defeated by directors Abram, Anderson, Michele Babchuk, Charlie Cornfield, Brenda Leigh, Larry Samson and Gerald Whalley.
A motion by Whalley to have the Dec. 8 meeting start at 3 p.m. was also defeated.
As a result, the Dec. 8 meeting will start at 2 p.m. and be a regular board meeting with a dinner and reception following the meeting.