Myrna Kerr, Southern Cortes Community Association vice-president and secretary, and John Sprungman, past president, spoke to the Strathcona Regional District board last November about a proposed hall tax. The board has recently been dealing with how to handle local service initiative requests. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Still no consensus over how residents request services

Strathcona Regional District continues to seek policy for service establish

If residents want streetlights or sewer, sometimes they have to ask for them.

The process applies especially to residents in unincorporated areas – in other words, the electoral areas within the regional district.

The question then is how residents should ask. There is no easy answer, at least based on recent discussions at the Strathcona Regional District table. The item had been deferred from the March 28 meeting and came back at the May 8 board meeting where the SRD again tackled the topic of how service initiatives are established. With the aim of establishing a policy, the board had asked for direction last November about practices through which the public can request a service for their area.

Some electoral area directors have been happy with a practice by which residents approach them about the possibility of a local service – for example, streetlights on a section of road – after which the electoral director would gauge the level of community support before bringing the matter up at the board level and eventually going to referendum.

RELATED STORY: Strathcona Regional District considers who can make requests for services

Area A Director Gerald Whalley said the system has worked well in the past, and he expressed concerns with wording that could potentially allow a small number of people within an area to put a proposal before the board, even if they are the only ones wanting a service. This, he said, could result in a referendum with costs up to $20,000 for a community.

“To go ahead with these things can be really expensive for a little community,” he told other board members. “You guys don’t have any way of judging what the community feeling is.”

Area C Director Jim Abram was also opposed to any idea of changing the practice of residents consulting directly with area directors.

“It isn’t what we do. It isn’t the way we do things,” he said. “The consultation takes place first to find out what does the public want.”

He also said the policy leaves open the possibility someone from outside an electoral area propose a service for that area.

Area D Director Brenda Leigh felt it was appropriate that electoral area services go first to electoral area services committee (EASC), comprised of the electoral area directors, rather than directly to the board. She also said there are procedures in place to ensure public support requiring measures such as petitions of people in an affected area.

She said services in her area have been set up by petition and suggested proposals need to gain majority consent.

“I’m not interested in increasing our services,” Leigh said. “We’ve got tons of service in Area D already and taxes are high enough…. I don’t want to be part of some of the municipal initiatives that are going to cost us more and give us nothing. I want just to provide basic services to the properties that they’re already getting.”

RELATED STORY: Area D sewer plans to proceed

As evidence of the need for clearer, more consistent practices at the board level, Area B Director Noba Anderson cited the example of the proposed hall tax as one that has been on the agenda for years and only recently had gone to a non-binding referendum. This was after it was brought back to the SRD table almost two years ago, with much of the Cortes Island community giving input. More recently, the subsequent binding referendum has faced delays following the launch of court proceedings against Anderson over alleged conflict of interest.

“Here we are, a year-and-a-half, almost two years later, still not having resolved the matter,” she said.

RELATED STORY: Still no movement on advisory planning body for Cortes Island

RELATED STORY: Cortes Island first responder referendum back on the table

Anderson asked for timelines to be built into the policy and also suggested wording go further rather than simply restating legislative requirements already in place. She suggested a “next step,” such as a working group or getting an amended version from staff. Some of the Campbell River directors such as Claire Moglove and Ron Kerr agreed the policy could be sent back to staff.

Whalley responded that he agreed some elements of the policy could work for regional services but not for electoral area services. He made a successful motion for the matter to be deferred to staff for a further report that addresses issues the electoral area directors identified.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

What Campbell River got up to on your ‘Snow Day’ last week

We asked people to send us photos of what they were doing last Thursday after the big dump of snow

Model railroaders bring life-long passion for their hobby to annual Campbell River show

Annual train show coming to Museum of Campbell River on Jan. 25-26

Campbell River’s Teal Harle to compete at X Games this week

Freestyle skier set to take part in slopestyle and big air competitions

PHOTOS: Storm fall to Braves in shootout at the Brindy

Saanich won 4-3 Saturday night in Campbell River

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

Most Read