Local community commission input meeting set

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Next steps for the process leading to a referendum on the local community commission (LCC) governance concept are becoming more clear. 

Salt Spring’s Capital Regional District (CRD) director Gary Holman said a meeting to provide public input is set for Monday, June 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. via Zoom. Feedback will go into recommendations that will be made to the CRD before LCC bylaws are finalized for consideration by the CRD Board in July. The Zoom link is available by emailing sburnham@crd.bc.ca or calling the CRD office at 250-537-4448.

At the first meeting of an LCC Advisory Committee held May 26, two members of the public attending that Zoom meeting, Curt Firestone and Bob Moffatt, asked Holman to slow down the process to give people more time to understand the issues. However, participants heard that bylaws must be given first three readings by the CRD board by July 13 in order for the referendum question to be on the ballot on Oct. 15, when other local government elections will be held. Combining the LCC question with those elections will save money, noted Holman.

What became clear at Thursday’s meeting is that the “delegated authority” issue is at the heart of the discussion. Attendees expressed that if an LCC is an advisory body only, like the current four island-wide commissions it would encompass are now, it will not significantly improve local governance. 

Brian Webster, one of three people who wrote a recently released discussion paper on the LCC concept for Salt Spring, said, “I don’t think it would be particularly effective if it is purely advisory. This has to do something meaningful.” 

He explained that the CRD’s Bylaw 4186 already allows for delegated authority and is used for five commissions within its jurisdiction: the Regional Water Supply Commission, the Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission, Peninsula Recreation Commission and the Saanich Peninsula water and wastewater commissions, as well as for other specific reasons. The Salt Spring LCC could perhaps be added to that bylaw. 

Holman acknowledged that if delegated authority is not part of the proposed concept, “it’s not going to go very far. In fact, the public advocates for an LCC will be opposing it.” 

LCC Advisory Committee member Darryl Martin raised two other issues: how to maintain the valuable input provided by volunteer commission members under the current system and how to attract a broader demographic among elected commissioners. If meetings are only held during the day and only a $10,000 stipend offered, that could preclude non-retirees from running for election, he suggested.

Martin was acclaimed vice chair of the advisory committee and Gayle Baker the chair at Thursday’s inaugural committee meeting. 

Exact meeting dates will be publicized once they are firmed up. Other community groups, such as Transition Salt Spring and the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce, will also be asked to host meetings, said Holman. 

A proposal to investigate using an LCC model arose following the 2017 incorporation referendum and was an election promise made by Holman in 2018. 

The discussion paper is available at the library, Ganges CRD office and on the Driftwood website (link is at the bottom of the story) among other places.

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