EDITORIAL: Over governed?

The RDN provides the only direct representation for the taxation levied in places like Errington, Coombs and Deep Bay

We should at least consider the notion that we are over-governed.

And this time — as local governments fight to squeeze every nickel they can in order to provide the same level of service, as infrastructure built in a more prosperous time falls apart and requires replacing — seems like a good time for that discussion.

We are in support, and understand its value, of the three basic levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal. If that’s where it stopped, it would be more palatable.

There are overlapping, built-into-the-system levels of government we need to have a closer look at, however.

When we choose our city or town councillors in Parksville or Qualicum Beach, it would be nice if any and all stipends and compensation they received were directly related to city or town business. Alas, that is not true.

Both Parksville and Qualicum Beach councillors send a representative to the board of directors for the Regional District of Nanaimo. So, a Qualicum Beach town councillor is paid to sit at meetings and provide input on issues that arise in Cedar or Whiskey Creek or Bowser.

It doesn’t stop there. There are numerous boards and advisory panels councillors sit on — economic alliances and others — that also cost that one taxpayer some dough and, in our minds, provide little in return.

The system is set up in a way that requires input on the RDN board from Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Transit, for example, is a regional responsibility. We get that, but we have to ask: why can’t the regional transit authority make direct representation to the towns and cities when they need to make changes or want increased funding?

The RDN provides the only direct representation for the taxation levied in places like Errington, Coombs and Deep Bay. That is important, clearly. But why does Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach need to be part of that governance? Yes, there are responsibilities that are the RDN’s purview and have an effect on all of us, but just because it has been set up that way doesn’t mean it can’t be dismantled. It’s time to re-think, and streamline, the way we are governed.

And don’t even get us started on the illogical geography that tells us San Pareil isn’t part of Parksville.

— Editorial by John Harding