SRD takes the show on the road

Regional District strategic planning session to happen at Oyster Bay

The Strathcona Regional District will take one of its meetings on the road but directors won’t be venturing too far from the regional district’s Campbell River offices.

The board voted at its Oct. 22 meeting to hold its strategic planning session at the Oyster Bay Resort in Area D – one of the Strathcona Regional District’s four electoral areas.

Since the summer, directors have debated the merits of hosting one of its regular board meetings in one of the communities that lie within the regional district, such as Cortes Island,  Zeballos, Gold River or Sayward, instead of the usual meeting site in Campbell River.

But, according to regional district staff, taking one of those meetings on the road would cost anywhere from double to more than triple the current cost of a meeting.

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.

A staff report at the Oct. 22 board meeting showed much lower costs for meeting space in Area D.

Oyster Bay Resort, with a rental fee of $236.25 on Monday to Thursday and $420 on Fridays and a $461 charge for catering, was chosen by directors.

Other options were Ocean Resort, Salmon Point Resort or Shelter Point Distillery. Ocean Resort, however, had limited availability while Salmon Point Resort does not have a separate meeting room and Shelter Point has the greatest rental fee at $600.

Area D Director Brenda Leigh said she was pleased the directors will be coming to her neighbourhood.

“I’m so glad to know it’s going to be in Oyster Bay so you can all get to know the area down there a little bit more,” Leigh said.

While holding the meeting away from the regional district board room will cost more, it is also intended to engage the other communities within the regional district.

Having the board’s strategic planning session away from home, as opposed to a regular board meeting, was a compromise first suggested by Russ Hotsenpiller, the regional district’s CAO, following hesitation from some directors back in August.

Chair Jim Abram said “nobody showed up” when meetings were held on the road in the past, noting that the board cut out the media, applicants and other audience members who didn’t have the budget to travel.

So Hotsenpiller suggested a second option.

“A further consideration is to hold the strategic planning session ‘on the road’ thereby satisfying the board’s expressed interest in visiting its member communities, but without the trappings and organization associated with a regular board meeting,” Hotsenpiller wrote in a report to the board in September.

The strategic session, during which directors identify the board’s top priorities for the following year, will be held at a to-be-determined date sometime in January.

Hotsenpiller said staff will report back to the board with a few dates to choose from once all directors submit their schedules.