Future governance and service delivery options for Electoral Area G
In our previous issue we reported the discussion about Area G scheduled for the June 8, 2021 RDN Board Meeting. Readers have asked: What are the issues? French Creek residents Patrick and Inger Weber provided a good summary in this recent letter to Lehann Wallace, their Area G Director on the RDN Board. — Editor.
Dear Ms. Wallace:
Re: Motion to identify future governance and service delivery options for Electoral Area G
As time passes and the demographics of a community changes, the manner of governance and delivery of services to the residents requires review and possible revision to best meet the communities’ needs.
Electoral Area G is experiencing significant residential growth and the demand on infrastructure, water and sewer capacity, road maintenance, commercial and professional services and the required zoning changes and public transportation are increasing as a result.
The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is responsible for the direct delivery of a part of the services to the electoral area, contracts for some of the services and relies on private enterprise to provide the balance. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure handles all road maintenance and clearing issues, police, fire and emergency services are by contract, most of Area G receives water through a private corporation, Epcor from Edmonton, Alberta, while RDN provides some water services, sewer services, bylaw management and enforcement and the review, approval, and issuance of permits for zoning, subdivision and construction.
The RDN covers a large geographical area with the major population concentration being in the City of Nanaimo. The governing body consists of 19 elected directors, twelve of which represent the City of Nanaimo (8) and the three next larger communities, Lantzville (1), Parksville (2), and Qualicum Beach (1). The balance of the board representation comes from the 7 remaining electoral areas who elect one representative each. The large geographical area governed combined with the fragmented governance structure often results in the delivery of services to a smaller area such as Area G not receiving timely service and, often, funding for services is directed to the areas with larger population and stronger board representation.
Such time lags and lack of funding has, in recent years, resulted in the residential growth in Electoral Area G exceeding the necessary increases in water supply, unforeseen demand for sewage and stormwater treatment, access to the major arterial highway (19A) not being adequately addressed to meet safety needs, inadequate illumination of road hazards such as the French Creek Bridge, and a lack of planning to address the increased demand by the growing population for zoning to accommodate parks, professional services and commercial development. The rapid residential growth coupled with the absence of commercial and professional services is rapidly increasing the demand for adequate public transportation services and has increased area resident dependency on personal transportation to a level which is dangerous for vehicular passengers as well as rapidly becoming a health and environmental safety issue.
So that our community is capable of growth in a sustainable, well managed manner, we support the motion made on May 27, 2021, to identify future governance and service delivery options for Electoral Area G, “That RDN staff engage with the Governance and Structure Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to conduct the preliminary exploration process for a Restructure and Service Delivery Study of Area G.”
Patrick and Inger Weber, French Creek