Regional District of Nanaimo examines increase to number of directors

Statistics Canada census numbers show increase in Regional District of Nanaimo population

With the 2016 census showing an increase in the City of Nanaimo’s population, Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is considering the potential addition of two directors.

The regional district uses a voting unit number, defined in provincial legislation, to help define the number of directors and how many votes each has in weighted voting situations, such as financial matters. The regional district’s voting unit is currently 2,500 and can be amended in situations where inequities take place due to population changes in high-growth areas, according to the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Culture Development.

Of the board’s 17 directors, seven represent Nanaimo. Nanaimo’s 2011 population was 83,810, but has increased to 90,504, based on the 2016 census, and it currently has a voting strength of 34.

Joan Harrison, regional district director of corporate services, said voting strength and number of directors is determined by dividing the voting unit into the population. No one director can have more than five votes, which is why Nanaimo has seven directors, said Harrison.

An RDN staff report states that remaining at 2,500 would lead to one extra seat at the table each for Nanaimo and Parksville.

The regional district would have to increase its budget by $28,500 to cover remuneration and expenses if the two new directors are approved.

Increasing the voting unit to 2,750 or 3,000 would mean no changes and increasing the unit to 3,250 would see a decrease of one director and savings of $14,248, the report also said.

“If you increase a voting unit to (3,250), you actually reduce the number of directors necessary to support that. It’s just kind of mathematical,” said Bill Veenhof, RDN board chair.

Directors voted to delay acceptance of the report until June in order to further examine the implication of such changes.

The B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Culture Development is expected to certify census numbers to account for boundary adjustments by November. The ministry worked with district staff to provide projections for the report.