Regional district directors don’t want a policy telling them what to do

Brenda Leigh, director for Area D (south of the city), was unimpressed by the report

A suggestion last week by the chair of the Strathcona Regional District that the board adopt a set of policies outlining its roles raised the hackles of some directors who don’t want the board to dictate what they do.

Chair Ted Lewis said in his report, presented at last week’s Thursday board meeting, that he felt “the Strathcona Regional District would benefit by adopting policies that better describe the role and responsibilities of not only the chair’s position but also that of the vice chair, municipal directors and electoral area directors.”

Brenda Leigh, director for Area D (south of the city), was unimpressed by the report.

“I barely looked at it because I’m not an employee of the regional district. My responsibility is to my (constituents),” Leigh said. “If you want to keep on churning out policies I don’t pay attention to, if you want to waste money like that, go right at it. I know I’m in the minority. What are you going to do, fire me? This board does not have the right to treat us as employees, it doesn’t have to treat us like we’re in the army.”

Gerald Whalley, director for Area A (Kyuquot/Nootka-Sayward), also wasn’t fond of having policy drive decisions and behaviours.

“This report would intend to tell us directors what our roles and responsibilities are supposed to be,” Whalley said. “I could just see the headlines now in the newspaper, that ‘Regional District doesn’t know what it’s doing’. I could care less what the board thinks my roles and responsibilities are. I don’t report to the board, I don’t report to staff, I report to my constituents. My major responsibility is to protect my taxpayers from frivolous reports like this one.”

However, not all of the directors thought it was a waste of time.

Director John MacDonald, representing Sayward, liked the idea of having some guidance.

“I don’t think it’s going to take that much time from staff (and) I think it’s important,” he said. “Some may think their job is a little bigger or a little smaller than it is. Let’s have some direction.”

The sample policy provided to directors was from the Comox Valley Regional District but Alternate Director Andy Adams, and Campbell River city councillor, suggested staff take a sampling from different regional districts and incorporate them.

“We don’t want to take up staff time so I would advocate to keep it simple, we don’t need to re-invent the wheel here,” Adams said. “Comox Valley isn’t the be-all-end-all. Look at five regional districts and take the best from them. Don’t spend a lot of time on it.”

In the end, a motion to have staff develop policy documents describing the roles and responsibilities of board directors was passed with directors Leigh, Whalley, Jude Schooner and Jim Abram opposed.