Bill Veenhof would like to see at least some meetings of the Regional District of Nanaimo held in the rural areas, instead of at the main board office in Nanaimo.
To this end, the RDN director for Bowser-Deep Bay presented his colleagues with a proposal in October to hold Electoral Area Planning Committee meetings in each rural area once annually.
“I sponsored this issue and my objects were three-fold,” Veenhof said. “I wanted to improve the reputation of the RDN in the areas and give fellow directors a look at the realities of specific rural areas. It would also give local residents access to the board. The goal is to get the RDN out of the board room and in front of the people.”
Planner Jeremy Holm presented staff’s response to the request last week, suggesting the move would cost approximately $1,460 per meeting, for a total of $8,760 per year. As well, he said it could well prove disruptive to the flow of development applications, resulting in unnecessary delays.
Instead, the staff report floated the idea of having other forms of meetings in the rural areas, such as what they called Dialogue with a Director, a very informal coffee shop-style discussions with community members, or open houses which are somewhat more formal.
Commenting on the report, general manager Paul Thorkelson noted the move could also see some rural area residents form one end of the RDN having to travel all the way to the other end in order to have their concerns dealt with.
Directors voted to include $10,000 in the budget for rural area meetings, although what form they will take remains to be determined.