UBCM president Wendy Booth addressing AVICC delegates in April. Photo from Twitter

Strathcona Regional District holds off quitting Vancouver Island group for now

Board members express frustration with resolution process of Island regional body

The Strathcona Regional District board is not taking its ball and going home over its membership in Vancouver Island’s regional organization – at least not yet.

The board considered the idea at the June 6 meeting after Mayor John MacDonald of Sayward made a motion for the SRD to pull out of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC), which represents communities on Vancouver Island and smaller regions on the West Coast. Currently, no SRD members sit on its executive.

If a solution was not unanimous, there was widespread agreement over frustration over members’ inability to get resolutions passed at AVICC meetings, particularly at the latest annual meeting this spring.

“I found the last AVICC meeting almost a complete waste of time,” MacDonald said.

He said that other than the networking opportunities, there was no reason to attend. He added that AVICC will, for example, discuss issues such as solid waste management but not similar ones such as waste-to-energy projects.

“To me, AVICC does nothing for us,” he said.

In contrast, Area C Director Jim Abram would not support a motion to leave AVICC.

“There are good association meetings, and there are bad association meetings,” he said. “It just happens.”

He compared leaving the regional body at this point to taking their ball and going home.

“I think it would be really, really shortsighted,” he said.

Abram recommended SRD members work to fix AVICC to better represent all areas, especially in light of the role it plays within the broader Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“These regional organizations are key to the operations of the Union of BC Municipalitiees and the FCM,” he said.

Some SRD board members agreed with the motion to leave, while others wanted to stay and work out the problems. Charlie Cornfield, one of the Campbell River directors, questioned the cost and benefits of AVICC and suggested the SRD gets more accomplished through the UBCM.

His Campbell River council colleague, Ron Kerr, echoed his support for the motion, saying, “I don’t think it’s a matter of taking our ball and going home.”

Area D Director Brenda Leigh did not support the motion, cautioning the board that it should not rely only on the UBCM to get resolutions passed.

Brad Unger, Gold River’s representative on the SRD board agreed with the motion but suggested a compromise to contact AVICC’s executive first and give the SRD the option to withdraw at a later time. Board members supported a motion 7-5 in favour of referring SRD staff to arrange a meeting with AVICC and UBCM to discuss the issues that SRD board has with AVICC.

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