Regional Directors Jim Abram, Brenda Leigh and Gerald Whalley would prefer to more independent of the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) Board. For reasons obvious to anyone who has observed the Electoral Areas Services Committee (EASC) over the past two years, Cortes Island Regional Director Noba Anderson would rather stick with the board. A proposal that staff study the feasibility of an independent EASC Grant in Aid Service was brought forward at the May 27, 2020, SRD Board Meeting.
Context Within The Larger Discussion
None of the EASC Directors liked the proposed Grant-in-Aid policy at the SRD Board’s March 11, 2020 meeting. Consequently, this document was referred to the Municipal Services Committee, Electoral Areas Services Committee and Strathcona Gardens Commission for review.
Chief Administrative Officer David Leitch prefaced his introduction, at the May 27th meeting, by saying this is not that review.
“The Electoral Areas Services Committee has independently made a motion for the board’s support, that staff investigate an electoral areas Grant-in Aid Service.”
An Existing EASC Grant in Aid Service
Director Leigh explained, “The Comox Valley does have an electoral area Grant-in-Aid function. They consider all the Grant-in-Aid applications that go to the CVRD, and which electoral directors are paying for what. They are more coordinated … [so that two electoral areas are not giving to the same organization] … and then they make recommendations to the Board for approval. That system is working very well.”
Chair Michele Babchuk observed, “Not much different than our system.”
Director Charlie Cornfield thought having the electoral areas, that wish to participate, collectively choose how they use their grant in aid money sounds like a good thing.
“I don’t have a problem supporting the motion that carries it to the next step forward.”
Regional Director Gerald Whalley said, “One of the problems in the past, that was expressed by the municipalities, is they were discussing a Grant-in-Aid which they often didn’t know much about, or the organization that was behind it. The electoral areas are very familiar with these things.This would alleviate concern among the municipalities and we would decide among ourselves which requests seem appropriate.”
Questions About The Electoral Area Service
Some of the other directors have questions about this proposed service.
Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams asked that the report identify where the costs are coming from: not only Grant in Aid funding, but also administration.
Director Claire Moglove added, “I’m a little confused as to what this is all about, it doesn’t relate to the overall policy of a Grant-in-Aid. I think it is really important that we have one policy, but policy is different than service. I’m not really sure what this report would consider. If it is to have a different overall policy on Grants-in-Aid for the electoral areas, I am not in favour.”
Leitch said, “If the electoral areas have their own Grant-in-Aid Service, that would not be covered under the Board’s grant-in-Aids. They are looking to create their own service with their own policy.”
“I will not be supporting this. I think it is absolutely imperative as a Regional District that we have one policy that covers all members of the Regional District,” said Moglove. “ … For instance, one of the policies that was brought forward to the board, as a potential policy statement … is that all applications for a Grant-in-Aid would go to the staff, as opposed to going to the area directors … “
Director Moglove reemphasized, “I have no problem with having a different service, providing the policies are the same.”
Chair Michele Babchuk weighed in, “I will not be supporting this, primarily for some of the reasons that Director Moglove has said. It was made very clear to me and to staff – which is why this Grant-in-Aid piece came forth – that we needed more accountability and transparency due to past issues this board has gone through. This does nothing except circumvent that piece. I will not be supporting this, I think we need to move forward with the policy … for all of the directors in the regional district. We are either a Regional District, or we are not.”
Top photo picture: Buttle Lake (In Regional District D) by Richard Powell via Flickr (CC BY Sa, 2.0 License)