EDITORIAL: Nanaimo’s power over Parksville Qualicum Beach

There are questions about the way the Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors conducts votes

Taxpayers of Parksville and Qualicum Beach may be interested to find out how much the results of Nanaimo’s civic elections could affect their pocketbooks.

The 17-member board of directors for the Regional District of Nanaimo will soon be sworn into office for a four-year term, much like the councils of Parksville and Qualicum Beach were last night. There has been change in Nanaimo’s city council, which means there will be changes in who that city sends to fill the seven seats it has on the RDN board.

If the RDN adopts the same stance it did on at least two issues in the past three years, you can expect the decisions of these seven Nanaimo city councillors to have direct bearing on the budgets and planning of both Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

The councils of both of these incorporated communities directed their representatives to oppose continued funding of the Island Corridor Foundation. Both Parksville and Qualicum Beach councils had extensive, open debates about this issue and decided they did not want the tax dollars of their citizens funding what still looks like an unattainable dream of re-started rail service. Certainly it became clear neither Parksville nor Qualicum Beach was ever going to see a passenger train pull up to its stations and serve its residents.

No thanks, said these councils, on behalf of their constituents. In what can only be seen as a paternalistic power play, the RDN board, on the strength of votes from those Nanaimo city councillors, ignored the wishes of the Parksville and Qualicum Beach reps and voted to shovel more tax dollars to the ICF.

Later, even after a B.C. Supreme Court decision that clearly ruled municipalities have the right to make their own land use/planning decisions without the interference of regional districts, Nanaimo city council, er, sorry, the RDN board decided to ignore a legal vote of Qualicum Beach town council regarding a land use/planning issue. Whether that decision by Qualicum Beach council was what the majority of the community wanted or not — and the election results indicate it did not — that is not the point we are making here.

We hope this new regional district board, and its powerful Nanaimo contingent armed with weighted votes, will have more respect for the decisions made by the duly elected councils of Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

— Editorial by John Harding

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