Editorial: LCC bylaws look promising

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Bylaws to create a local community commission (LCC) for Salt Spring have been released and they are better than expected.

That seems to be the consensus of some islanders intimately involved with the process, and so far we must concur. We were skeptical about CRD LCC bylaws delivering anything substantially better than the status quo, but the level of delegated authority and the areas covered are significant.

One LCC benefit that is hard to evaluate unless you’ve attended umpteen-thousand commission meetings (as Driftwood staff have) is the elimination of the “silos” caused by separate commissions having independent mandates. Take the housing crisis, as one example. It can land in the lap of the parks and rec commission just because the commission can hold land on behalf of the CRD, but housing is not the commission’s mandate, so it is hard to justify cross-mandate action on their part. An LCC could look at the broader picture.

The CRD has suggested an extra 1.2 full-time-equivalent staff would be needed to support the LCC, but CRD director Gary Holman said he does not see that much extra time being required.

Budget efficiencies could even be realized. A detailed examination of how Salt Springers’ property tax dollars are spent could perhaps find savings to help cover the additional estimated cost of an LCC. Something else apparent at current commission meetings is that proposed initiatives come with a price tag based on required staff time, as if the commission is purchasing services from external contractors rather than paying an employee’s salary and benefits from a predetermined budget. As well, once debt authorized for a specific purpose by a past CRD referendum is paid off, the annual debt-payment amount remains in the budget and is used for other purposes. Perhaps a five-member LCC with broader accountability to the electorate would be more inclined to rein in costs and ultimately make CRD services less expensive for taxpayers.

Following two decisive rejections of incorporation in 2002 and 2017 referenda, the province will not fund another incorporation study for Salt Spring in the near future. It is pointless to harp on incorporation as a feasible governance option. The LCC option as presented at least addresses some of our current governance deficiencies.

We look forward to the public discussion unfolding between now and Oct. 15 when a referendum on the issue is held.

1 Comment
  1. shelley mahoney says

    This editorial is exactly the reason we have such poor governance.

    Media should delve into the facts…no comments from our trustees, no mention of the review of the IT which factors into governance solutions.

    No mention of the rush rush rush to get this bylaw read three times before it was released in an agenda, two days prior to the vote 🙁

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