Local Community Board Regulations published by CRD – Gulf Islands Driftwood

What governance of Salt Spring would look like with a local community commission (LCC) became a little clearer with the release of two Capital Regional District (CRD) bylaws.

Bylaws 4507 and 4508 – which would establish the LCC and delegate the powers of the CRD to it – are due to receive three readings at the CRD board meeting today (July 13). Voter approval this fall will be needed to make the change.

An LCC format would see islanders vote for four LCC commissioners plus the director of the CRD. It would eliminate four current island-wide CRD commissions and then run the services they are currently responsible for, along with other miscellaneous services. Bylaw 4507 lists 14 services in several different areas: Parks and Recreation, Transportation and Transit, Liquid Waste, Economic Sustainability, Fernwood Wharf, Street Lighting, Grants, Livestock Damage Compensation, and CRD financial contributions for ArtSpring, the library, and search and rescue group.

“All of these services will be delegated to the LCC,” explained CRD director Gary Holman, who supports the change, at an ASK Salt Spring public rally at United Church Meadow on Friday. “The [Salt Spring electoral area] the director will be part of the LCC and the LCC will have the same authority that the director currently has with respect to most services.

The LCC will have a purely advisory role in certain areas, Holman said, and cannot, by law, fetter the director’s discretion when it comes to voting on the CRD board on certain matters. The same situation exists for municipal councils which have a representative on the board of directors of the CRD.

Bylaws 4507 and 4508 were created following the release of a discussion paper on the subject written by former Parks and Recreation Commission member Brian Webster, assisted by the former CEO of the Islands Trust, Linda Adams, and Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of Holman. An LCC advisory committee chaired by Transportation Commission Chair and ASK Salt Spring organizer Gayle Baker also provided input.

“As a general rule, I would say that not everything is necessarily recommended in this [discussion] document or recommended by the LCC advisory committee has been picked up by CRD staff for a variety of reasons,” Holman said. “But overall, these regulations represent the fundamental approach recommended in this discussion paper and by the advisory committee.”

Others present at Friday’s meeting seemed happy with the content of the settlement, and especially the extent of the powers delegated by the CRD.

Webster felt the bylaws weren’t perfect, but said he “wholeheartedly” believed the LCC they allowed was “a step forward” for the governance of the island.

“Personally, I’ve focused more on the local community commission as a mechanism to make things work a little better in our community. I’m convinced it’s possible, and after watching the [delegation] regulation I am confident that this regulation meets the test of doing that. Is that all I want it to be? No. Would I add any additional services to the 14 services listed here? You bet I would. It’s not perfect. But it’s a lot closer than I thought the CRD staff and Victoria could possibly come up with.

Darryl Martin, who is president of the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce and vice-chairman of the LCC Advisory Committee, recited part of the “administrative authority” section of Bylaw 4508, noting that it authorizes an LCC to “enter into agreements regarding the engagement, provision, and operation of district works and services,” and to identify and create “strategic plans and priorities, and service-specific operational policies.”

“To me, that’s a big authority,” Martin said.

For Holman, the expanded decision-making process is one of the biggest benefits of an LCC.

“A lot of decisions now made by the director are going to be made in open public meetings and subject to majority voting.”

As an example, Holman said, instead of a $5,000 grant being awarded to a particular community group at the sole discretion of the director, “it’s going to have to be debated in a public meeting to find out if it’s is a good idea. And the same with all these other services that are designated.

“Decision-making will get a bit more complicated, but it should be that way. That’s democracy. »

Maxine Leichter, who sits on the Transport Committee and pays particular attention to local government issues, expressed her positive opinion.

“My thinking is, yes, there are problems with the LCC, but there are problems with any type of government. And so the real question should be, is this an improvement or not? And for me, it’s more democratic, so it’s an improvement.

She said she has long been concerned that the CRD director has discretion over how a large sum of money is spent.

The bylaws say the LCC must meet monthly, but Holman said that doesn’t mean it can’t meet more often if necessary.

The CRD estimates that a change to an LCC system would add $168,610 to the annual budget, including an additional 1.2 full-time equivalents ($106,110 in the first year) and commissioner compensation at the suggested level of $10,000. Holman said he wasn’t convinced an LCC would require significantly more staff time.

A referendum on whether to adopt the LCC governance format will be held in conjunction with local government elections on October 15. If the referendum passes, elections for the four members of the commission will take place afterwards.

Rules and details can be found in the July 13 CRD Board of Directors meeting agenda at crd.bc.ca.