Re: Time to rethink role of the CRD (Opinion, Aug. 19)
More accurate information needs to be provided as to what the Capital Regional District (CRD) is and what it is not. CRD governance, akin to all regional districts in the province, is not based on population but on large geographic boundaries. Regional districts have three basic roles according to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development website. Regional districts provide political and administrative framework for:
• Provision of region-wide services such as regional parks, regional planning, solid waste and liquid waste.
• Provision of inter-municipal or sub-regional services (via agreements) such as SEAPARC and Panorama Recreation.
• Acting as the local government for the electoral areas and providing local services such as drinking water and fire protection to communities within these areas.
CRD is not a fourth level of government. It is modeled as a federation composed of municipalities and electoral areas in the large geographic area, each of which has representation on the regional board. It is true that Saanich currently has the greatest number of directors on the CRD board. Representation is based on population: one director represents every 25,000 residents. This also relates to the amount of taxpayer dollars that are invested in regional initiatives. Yes, Saanich and Victoria have the most directors around the current CRD table but even if all directors from those areas voted together, they could not carry any board vote by themselves.
Another key voting structure revolves around financial spending. If the CRD members wish to buy land for parks, for example, the vote would be based on a weighted vote system. Saanich directors have 22 and Victoria has 16. These taxpayers contribute more than other municipalities and should have a larger say on any expenditures, but, again if all those directors voted in favour they could not take the vote without other members’ support.
The voting structure of all regional districts is dictated by provincial legislation. Through resolutions and bylaws it is responsible for the services provided by the regional district. It embodies the public welfare of its communities, which often means trying to balance each area’s vision with the concerns expressed by the people and organizations affected by its decisions.
The Regional Growth Strategy was not created to dictate to member municipalities. It was created by all residents of this region, to help control infrastructure costs, to manage growth and economic areas and to protect our environment. Public process in each municipality consulted residents on how they saw their community progressing in relation to the RGS principles.
The Trans-Canada Highway runs through Saanich. It carries an average weekday volume of 84,000 vehicles. We have short-cutting through neighbourhoods on our municipal roads. Is it fair that Saanich taxpayers pay for road improvements to a municipal road when the majority of the traffic running through that neighbourhood is from the West Shore? Our regional taxpayers desire co-operation and collaboration to ensure one jurisdiction doesn’t incur expense for another’s decisions on land use. Everything is connected and we need to work together.