The Strathcona Regional District has approved its financial plan for the coming year. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

The Strathcona Regional District has approved its financial plan for the coming year. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

SRD adopts 2021 financial plan

Two directors voted against budget, Anderson citing lack of consultation and info

The Strathcona Regional District passed and adopted their 2021 budget last week, but not all directors were on board.

The financial plan had received no public comments even after public notification, advertisement and articles in the newspaper, said chief administrative officer David Leitch at the meeting.

Cortes Island Director Noba Anderson had concerns about that, saying that “I think that when there is no comment from the public at all when it’s something this substantive, and this is not the only year that this is the case, we need to design a more inclusive process to involve public comment. It certainly doesn’t mean that there isn’t interest. There’s something wrong on our end.”

Anderson had previously voiced her concerns about the engagement process going through the budget planning. Namely, that the board had not been given the amount of detail that it has in previous years during the budget planning process, and that long-range planning items such as Official Community Plans and zoning bylaw updates were not included in the financial plan.

“No work plans presented to the board or budget that is responsive to those work plans, and our core documents are between 10 and 25 years old, which is just not OK,” she said. “There was no substantive opportunity for EASC (Electoral Area Services Committee) or the board to discuss. The very first time that this came to EASC we were told that it was essentially too late for substantive engagement. I think both from a process point of view and a content point of view I’m really sad to say that I can’t support the budget for the first time in my elected office.”

Anderson had gone into detail with her concerns at the Feb. 24 meeting, saying then that “There’s just no way I have the information I need. I have in previous years really prided myself on going through the detail multiple times and speaking with staff, but I just have nothing to work with here.”

At that same meeting, director Charlie Cornfield replied to Anderson’s comments. He said that to him, an increase at less than the rate of inflation was what was important to him.

“Don’t ask me to go through a budget line by line and to check to see what colour the chair is,” he added. “As long as we know that the services are being delivered at a rate that is appropriate. To be able to hold virtually the same rate that was in the previous year is pretty darn impressive. I’m more than happy with the process.”

The SRD’s budget increase is overall 0.47 per cent over last year. The rate was kept low to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budget passed, with directors Anderson and Brenda Leigh of Electoral Area D voting against it.

RELATED: SRD eyes 0.47 per cent tax increase

SRD allocates provincial safe restart funds

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