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RDN’s PQB-area directors share some of their top priorities for new 4-year terms

Areas have unique concerns from residents
(File photo)

The Regional District of Nanaimo directors from District 69 are set to serve again for another four years.

Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) director Leanne Salter was re-elected again as well as Area G (Englishman River, San Pareil, French Creek, Little Qualicum, Dashwood) director Lehann Wallace.

Electoral Area E (Nanoose, Fairwinds, Red Gap) director Bob Rogers and Electoral Area H (Bowser, Horne Lake, Deep Bay, Qualicum Bay) director Stuart McLean both won by acclamation.

We asked them to share some of their priorities in the next four years. Results below:

Area E director Bob Rogers

My first priority will be to get to know the new board members so we can all move the region forward in a collaborative and fruitful way through to 2026 and beyond.

We need to continue to function and conduct ourselves in a respectful manner.

It will be important for the board to act in a fiscally responsible manner to make sure we do not continue to implement non-sustainable annual budgets and longer term financial plans requiring home and business tax increases that can’t be supported by our residents.

An important priority for me and one I know the whole board will support in our dual roles as the Nanaimo Regional Hospital Board will be to further advocate with the province and VIHA in support of prompt business and action plans for the much needed new hospital tower and necessary cardiac catheterization lab, cancer centre and long-term care facility.

We should further enhance our advocacy for provincial and federal action to address mental health and addiction and their impacts on the individuals and the greater community.

I will continue to make the health of our water resources including aquifers and surface water a priority together with well funded water treatment, distribution and storage options, including a new Nanoose reservoir and a review of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) in Nanoose.

A balanced approach to regional park expansion/additions and development will need to be based on our ability to fund them over the long term, balanced with our primary need to fund the Regional Districts 40 per cent of hospital capital costs.

The completion of the improvements at Nanoose’s Electoral Area E Jack Bagley Community Park that include tennis and pickleball courts with a washroom facility plaza and new softball diamond and a enhanced half size soccer field will also be a priority.

A full public engagement process around the participation of EA E in the Ravensong Pool service and a more balanced resolution recognising the minimal usage by EA E residents of the pool will be important.

Continued advocacy with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) for improved local road maintenance, active transportation upgrades and action to address the frequent challenges for the Island when the Nanoose Flats Highway 19 section is closed.

Continued and successful efforts by the RDN to improve development plan and building permit application processes and timeframes for home owners and developers will also be a priority.

READ MORE: Regional District of Nanaimo declares 2022 election winners official

Area F director, Leanne Salter

Priorities include:

• The protection of the aquifers and water, ensuring that riparian areas are not impacted by over development, and to develop a policy regarding exotic pets.

• Completion of the contract for CMRA management of the Meadowood Hall.

• Ensuring riparian areas are not impacted by over development. At this time, we are enduring logging and subdivision development very close to French Creek. This is a significant concern for Area F residents, and it will impact the French Creek watershed as well as Parksville and Area G water needs.

I have been meeting with MOTI as well as the RDN to address this issue, as the creek is a fish bearing stream and development nearby will impact the sensitive area through canopy destruction and environmental disturbances.

• I have connected with RDN staff to help develop a Notice of Motion regarding exotic pets. The wild cats escape in Meadowood caused significant distress to the residents especially when a family pet was killed, along with ducks on a nearby farm and rabbits on the lawn of a daycare centre. We will be looking at methods that will ensure the health and safety of residents and their small pets as well as considering the safety and well-being of the wild animals living and exercising in their enclosures. It is imperative that we strike a balance that can address management of exotic pets going forward.

• Additionally, we continue to work on our governance and services study in Area F. Residents will be receiving a survey shortly that they can respond to regarding services provided to them through the RDN. The purpose of the governance and services study is to receive and analyze facts from residents about the current state of governance and service delivery. This includes identifying concerns, priorities, and expectations within our community as we move forward. This information will help to clearly understand the concerns and interests of residents in the area and identify options for improvement.

Area G director Lehann Wallace

Wallace wants to prioritize policy development and direction at the RDN Bboard to maintain a strong focus on ecological corridors.

“Ecological corridors are essential for the health and well being of numerous species and they also act as a solution to the dual crisis of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change,” said Wallace.

“Area G contains multiple segmented river corridors to the Salish Sea and over the past three years, saw over 100 acres of conservancy land acquired by the Nature’s Trust of BC and the BC Parks Foundation. These acquisitions were valued over $16 million through private and developer investments. This is definite progress, but there is much more to do as the majority of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere watershed is privately owned, and the land use legislation was designed for parcel specific land management.”

The growth of the region, with its demands on our healthcare, water, sewer, parks and the environment requires cohesive and collaborative planning between the region and its member municipalities said Wallace.

“I will prioritize mutual understanding and work closely with local leaders to seek synergy and collaboration for governance and development planning,” she said.

“Area G provides a unique rural area governance challenge with its 98 per cent residential development, over 8,100 residents and dichotomy of separated rural neighborhoods, versus its urbanized areas sharing boundaries with the municipalities of Parksville and Qualicum.

“The once natural buffer to some of these rural neighborhoods is being consumed by development along many of these boundaries. The government service delivery is spread across multiple jurisdictions also so I will continue to assist residents by providing prompt and accurate communications regarding the various jurisdictions and their government service delivery.”

Area H director Stuart McLean

Stuart McLean is honoured to be acclaimed by the community to represent them for another term on the RDN board.

“I’m looking forward to working with new and returning directors at the RDN Board table to maintain affordable services, complete ongoing projects and explore new ideas.

Some of the priorities I will bring to the board will be:

• Improving building permit wait times.

• Exploring the inclusion of yard waste in the RDN collection system.

• Moving forward with a referendum on the Ravensong Aquatic Centre expansion project.

• Strengthening relationships with First Nations.

• Completing upgrades to Lions Community Park.

• Exploring a noise bylaw for Area H.

• Implementing the RDN Transit Redevelopment Strategy and continuing to advocate for a transit connection with the Comox Valley Regional District.

• Supporting the Oceanside Community Track project.

• Investigating the creation of a Regional Housing Corporation to provide below market rental units.

• Working with Island Health and the Province to expand NRGH and build medical services capacity in the Oceanside area. Expanding and improving the Regional Parks and Trails system.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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