f you won’t go to the regional district, the regional district will come to you.
At least that’s what RDN director Bill Veenhof proposes. He represents Deep Bay/Bowser.
“I’m trying to do things to make the RDN more relevant to my constituency,” Veenhof told The NEWS.
He wants to see Electoral Area Planning Committee (EAPC) meetings take place in each rural community, instead of in Nanaimo where they are now conducted each month before committee of the whole meetings.
“The meetings in Nanaimo are a
45-minute drive for anyone to go to so consequently they don’t,” said Veenhof. “The idea is to bring the RDN out to rural areas.”
Ideally, he wants to see each meeting followed by a town-hall-style session, giving constituents an opportunity to address the board and ask questions.
Right now, RDN staff are looking into the financial implications of moving EAPC meetings out of regional district chambers and into electoral areas. They will need to consider the cost of renting out a space and travel expenses for staff. Moreover, the meetings will have to be held on a different day so they don’t coincide with committee of the whole meetings.
“The costs would be somewhat offset by getting people out there (to the meetings) who wouldn’t have to pay for their trip,” said Veenhof. “At the core of it is the town hall meeting afterwards, where residents can bring their concerns forward.”
Veenhof said he wants to make local government more tangible for residents.
The whole idea, Veenhof said, was inspired by a 2014 community survey undertaken by the RDN that found many rural residents felt out of touch with local government.
“The RDN isn’t necessarily well respected in the rural areas,” said Veenhof.
He’s hoping this idea could transpire into a one-year pilot project that could start as early as this fall