Better Internet and cell phone coverage, ensuring the new hospital meets service and capacity standards, and improving relations with First Nations are top priorities for the Strathcona Regional District.
Following two lengthy Strategic Planning sessions, directors voters at last week’s regional district board meeting on the most pressing issues facing the organization.
Top of the list is promoting the extension of cell phone service in the more rural areas of the regional district as well as developing a sub-regional tourism strategy to promote tourism within the region. A regional tourism service feasibility study will gather information on how best to move forward with the initiative.
Also top of mind is ensuring the new Campbell River hospital will have enough beds to serve the growing region and advancing relations with First Nations communities through a graduated approach that includes education on First Nations issues, protocols and culture.
Rounding out the top priorities is better co-ordination between the Strathcona Regional District, provincial and federal levels of government with respect to approval processes. The regional district recently expressed a desire for more symmetry after the province gave approval to the Klahoose for use of Crown land on Cortes to build a marina only to have the regional district turn down a re-zoning request for the same property weeks later, leaving the Klahoose in limbo.
The final strategic priorities – develop a communications plan and homelessness advocacy – were put at the bottom of the list.
Directors had also ranked developing a sustainability plan as important during strategic planning sessions but some changed their mind during last Wednesday’s board meeting.
Director Jim Abram (Quadra Island) wanted it removed from the list and Director Brenda Leigh (Area D) said she didn’t think there was a need for a specific sustainability plan but rather sustainability would automatically factor into land use decisions made by the board.
Director Noba Anderson (Cortes Island) disagreed.
“We’re missing out on funding opportunities at a very specific level,” Anderson said. “I believe we had ample time to spend on this at our sessions. If people are against this they should have said something then.”
The majority of directors seemed to agree and the sustainability plan stayed on the list with directors Abram, Leigh and Gerald Whalley (Area A) opposed.