Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) wants to restructure the community’s governance and delivery of services and has asked the Regional District of Nanaimo staff to express their intentions to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
Director Lehann Wallace made the motion at the RDN board meeting on June 8, and it was passed with two voting against. Wallace wanted to get their proposal moving now so it can be included in the RDN’s 2022 financial planning process as they expect the governance restructuring process will require plenty of staff time and will also be costly.
Prior to passing the Wallace’s motion, there was a concern raised the Area G request might not receive the immediate attention it needs as the ministry is already working on Electoral Area F’s (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) governance review.
Alternate Area F director Julian Fell said he has dealt with the ministry before and indicated “they don’t tend to like concurrent structure studies in the same or adjacent areas at the same time. As Area F has already started its restructure process, the ministry would probably see this as an interference. The ministry would ask the proposal from Area G to wait until the Area F proposal has been concluded.”
City of Parksville director Ed Mayne and Town of Qualicum Beach director Brian Wiese do not see any issues with sending Area G’s request now and that the board shouldn’t be making assumptions.
“Let the ministry decide that.” said Wiese. “I don’t think we can second guess what the ministry can do or not do. So I agree with the motion as it was read and let’s go forward. The ministry will let us know.”
The request to review and change the local government structure has received support from Area G residents, who wrote to the RDN board.
Some felt that the ongoing issues that concern residents and property owners in the area is not receiving the attention it needs from the RDN board, which consist of eight directors out of the 19 directors that represent the City of Nanaimo.
“We question whether they have much, if any, interest in matters concerning any electoral area of which there are seven,” said Robert Williams in his letter.
Williams also pointed out that dealing with RDN staff can be “frustrating, disappointing and unproductive because they deal with a very large geographic area and sometimes attempting to focus on matter that is trivial in comparison to the region as a whole, provide no result or is put on the back burner. Simple matters can take years to rectify or put in place.”
One of the many issues residents highlighted is the poor state of water services and the request to get the RDN to purchase the private water utility from EPCOR that took four years of negotiation that ended in vain.
Another resident, Rick Atkinson, indicated the area encompasses a large and growing area and can no longer be considered “rural.”
“There is so much development, growing commercial centres and associated traffic volume,” Atkinson wrote. “Area G is nestled between Parksville and Qualicum Beach, both thriving municipalities under local leadership. By contrast Area G is under-serviced when looking at the state of roads, property boundaries, individual properties lacking in property use bylaws. Bylaws that would be developed from a local community plan.”
Atkinson added that Area G residents are entitled to more representation and decisions made locally rather than one vote in Nanaimo.