It is still not clear if there will be a plebiscite question included on the ballot in Electoral Area ‘E’ in the municipal elections November 19 regarding inclusion of a regional service strategy.
At the Regional District of Nanaimo Committee of the Whole meeting September 13, area ‘E’ Director George Holme said he wasn’t happy with the report from the Regional Services Review. One of the recommendations would see electoral Area ‘E’ become a participant in the Ravensong Aquatic Centre swimming pool service with cost allocations based on participating area usage.
Holme said Nanoose Bay taxpayers didn’t want to pay for part of the pool back in 1993 and they were not included in the referendum that saw the project approved. He said if they had participated in the referendum back then it would have failed.
Holme said he would prefer the review include all services and be dealt with in the spring after the municipal election so any new directors could have a say on the matter.
“I don’t like doing things piecemeal. Right now we are only dealing with the pool and drinking water and there are more issues. I am trying to have the review postponed,” he said.
RDN Chairperson Joe Stanhope said he was surprised by the reaction of Holme to the recommendations on the service review and he doesn’t mind holding off a vote by the RDN Board of Directors so they have time to look at other solutions.
“His comments came out of the blue. This was our third meeting on the issue. I was surprised George didn’t like it,” he admitted.
Implementing a regional service strategy would see Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach becoming participants in the Drinking Water/Watershed Protection service.
It could also see taxpayers in Area ‘E’ sharing in the cost of the Ravensong pool which is a bone of contention for Holme.
Stanhope said he will have staff take another look at the recommendations and have further discussions with area directors before it comes to the next Regional District of Nanaimo Board meeting on October 4.
He said the most important issue is getting municipalities on board the Drinking Water/Watershed Protection service.
“Lets face it we are protecting aquifer resources and everyone benefits,” Stanhope said.
The RDN has been working with local environmental groups, government agencies, and residents to learn more about water and how to protect it.
Stanhope said climate change is permeating almost every aspect of government decision-making because the potential impacts on watersheds could be profound.
He said the purpose of the review is to protect our drinking water resources and he would like to proceed with it even if it means looking at other alternatives to get everyone on board.
“It is important because 85 percent of our drinking water comes from aquifers in our electoral areas.”
Stanhope said the regional district has been recognized as exemplary when it comes to being a functional district and he would like to maintain that status into the future.