Editorial: Let working groups work

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A grassroots initiative to improve local governance on Salt Spring Island is picking up steam. 

The Salt Spring Community Alliance was formed following the solid “no” vote in last September’s incorporation referendum. While most alliance members were publicly opposed to incorporation, the group consists of islanders from across the spectrum on the issue, indicating healthy collaboration at work.

As stated at its monthly meeting at Lions Hall last week, few people familiar with how Salt Spring’s governance system functions would suggest it does not need improvement.

After some intense investigation into various ways the system could be improved, the alliance’s Governance Working Group has come up with two major avenues it feels worth pursuing.

One option is the local community commission. It could help address the disconnect between the various Capital Regional District commissions by bringing the services they provide under one CRD umbrella. Accountability and representation would exist through commissioners being elected. After witnessing the recent Saturday market parking shuttle proposal, which saw CRD staff scuttle the shuttle despite enthusiastic support from two of three CRD commissions, more coordination within the CRD would be a good thing. However, because the LCC requires far more work, including full CRD buy-in and a referendum, it should be considered a longer-term possibility.

The other concept is being called the “local government working group,” a form of which was active for a period of time in the 2000s. No decisions could be made at such a meeting, but at least the arms of the octopus that is Salt Spring governance would know what the others are up to once in a while. In its previous incarnation, the meetings were not open to the public. That should be changed if a group is in fact formed, as the alliance group has also suggested.

This option should be relatively easy to enact and would definitely improve coordination between the disparate government agencies. 

Let’s hope genuine investigation of the “local government working group” is not blocked by government bodies whose cooperation is needed to make it a possibility.

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