CRD Local Community Commission (LCC) Discussion Paper: Introduction

One of my 2018 election platform commitments was to improve governance on Salt Spring, including seeking voter approval for an elected CRD Local Community Commission (LCC). This discussion paper initiates public consultation on the proposal, and will be available in several venues, including online (Salt Spring Exchange, Driftwood, social media), and hard copies at the library and local CRD office. This paper was drafted at my request by several members of the Governance Working Group of the Community Alliance organization, which was formed to consider governance improvements after the failed referendum on incorporation in 2017. The paper makes a number of recommendations regarding the composition, responsibilities, and remuneration of an elected at large LCC for Salt Spring.

The possibility of an LCC has been considered as part of previous governance studies undertaken during Provincially-initiated incorporation processes. I’ve also outlined the LCC proposal in previous Driftwood articles this year (Feb. 23, Mar. 2), and in Local Trust Committee and ASK town halls. An LCC, along with the CRD Director, would broaden our community’s elected representation and oversight of local CRD grants and services (e.g., budgets, bylaws, policies), and could lead to consolidation of Salt Spring’s four island-wide commissions (Parks, Transportation, Liquid Waste, Economic Sustainability).

LCC Commissioners would have a mandate from local voters similar to that of the CRD Director. This means that local CRD-related decisions, recommendations and advocacy for our community of almost 12,000 - now the effectively the responsibility of a single elected official - would instead be made by majority vote of the LCC and CRD Director (effectively a “council” for CRD issues) in regularly scheduled, public meetings. The CRD Director would still be directly elected to the CRD Board and the Electoral Area Services Committee which oversee regional and sub-regional services.

The LCC discussion paper has been reviewed by CRD staff and by an Advisory Committee I’ve recently appointed, comprised of representatives of the four island-wide CRD Commissions, Salt Spring Fire and North Salt Spring Waterworks Improvement Districts, and two members at large. This paper is not endorsed by CRD or Advisory Committee, but is considered a good basis for public discussion and input. My thanks to the authors for their efforts in producing this well-researched document.

The Advisory Committee will make its own recommendations regarding the LCC, based on more detailed review and public input. The mandate, responsibilities, and maximum cost of an LCC will be defined in CRD establishment bylaws that must be approved by the CRD Board and would form the basis for the referendum question to be put to voters during the October local elections. An LCC will require some local taxpayer cost, primarily for modest stipends for Commissioners who along with the CRD Director, would oversee all local CRD services. However, some cost savings could also result from consolidation of commissions, while community groups and citizens would continue to advocate to an elected LCC regarding local priorities, projects and other issues.

While the Local Government Act allows a regional district to establish an LCC, voter approval is necessary. Holding the referendum at the next local government election on October 15, 2022 will minimize the incremental cost of the LCC referendum. If voters approve, an election for LCC Commissioners would be held in the spring of 2023, which will also require a onetime cost. I will be including LCC-related costs in the provisional CRD budget for 2023, costs which would be taken out of the final CRD budget for that year if voters reject the proposal.

Establishing an LCC is a relatively simple governance change compared to incorporation, with far fewer jurisdictional and financial impacts. Unlike with incorporation, roads and policing would remain a Provincial responsibility, and land use would continue with the Trust. Therefore, establishment of an LCC could provide some governance advantages of incorporation (e.g., broader, more transparent representation and clearer delegated authority) without its possible downsides, such as the costs and future liabilities of Salt Spring’s extensive road network and concerns regarding potential weakening of the Trust mandate.

The LCC Advisory Committee, CRD staff and I look forward to reviewing public comments that can be made online and by emails to: Further opportunities for public input will be announced soon.

The CRD Local Community Commission (LCC) Discussion Paper was authored by several members of the Community Alliance Governance Working Group. Click here to read a copy in PDF format.

Gary Holman
Salt Spring Island CRD Director

May 9, 2022 4:36 PM

  • Darlene Gage says:

    I think an LCC would solve a lot of local issues by allowing more voices into the decision making process and giving the community more of a ‘town hall’ that we can address directly.

  • Having more voices doesn't matter, having the authority to act does.

    Real government is required...not piecemeal commissions.

  • SSIDancer says:

    Perhaps read the paper work with the input to date would seem a reasonable approach by interested and concerned community members before kicking it to the curb.

  • David Murphy says:

    I think having a locally controlled (elected) government with near-municipal jurisdictional authority would be a good thing. Currently we are ruled by three levels of government, all based in Victoria, overseen by part-time elected representatives, which means that the permanent bureaucracies have actual authority on a daily basis, and they are unaccountable to local voters.

  • I have read it....nothing to see here folks. What exactly is having a super committee Parks, Transportation, Liquid Waste, Economic Sustainability going to do?

    Did Gary listen to any of the appointed commissioners on any of these commissioners re: warming space, acquiring the firehall for a market??? NO! Is anything him stopping us from having an unpaid super committee to advise Gary? NO! Will he listen to anyone anyway? Doubt it

  • Authority is key...this super committee is still under Victoria's thumb and still having to have our decisions okayed.

    With a horrible review for the Trust recently released one would think that our elected officials would put on their thinking caps and try to affect real change and real government.

    We need a restructuring study from the province, it is the only solution for our local woes, and the trust's woes.

    Also no where in Gary's release is there info on the whether the province and the CRD will allow this nonsense LCC.

  • Brenda Guiled says:

    After the 2017 incorporation referendum, with the Positively No side winning witht 64%, one of the key leaders of the pro-incorporation side invited me to a long chat. As ever, he remained a gentleman. He said that his side only had a few highly active voices, a few big donors, and gained few new supporters. To his shock, he saw that the Positively No side had over 400 volunteers, dozens of strong voices, and a massive number of small and larger donors. Until voting day, his side put up such a good front that it seemed as if that the vote could go either way. He knew, however, that it would take a miracle to counter the groundswell.

    Which is just to say that, In this LCC discussion, please mind that the most outspoken voices from the pro-incorporation campaign will likely be stridently against any efforts to improve the governance we've got. They will do their best to appear to match or outnumber the voices of those who favour trying new solutions, and good for them, but that won't change the real numbers on each side.

  • Bob Moffatt says:

    This is shaping up pretty much the way I thought it would as we embark on another few months of conflict and hostility about island governance in a community already polarized by a pandemic, housing crisis, water resources, climate emergency and organizational dysfunction (Islands Trust). Driven by ego rather than need, it's all so unnecessary.

    There are no simple answers about governance, particularly on an island with 12,000 residents and a patchwork of entities with different mandates and jurisdictions already in place. But we do have one thing in common, and that's most residents would prefer to have our government located here and run by us, rather than controlled by someone else. However, a Local Community Commission (LCC) will be of little help. 

    What's become interesting is that those who favour an LCC seem to spend considerable time talking about incorporation, the people supporting it and its weaknesses rather than they do about an LCC and its obvious failings. I put that down to the fact that most people are clueless about what an LCC is. There are less than a handful in the province and most are located in tiny communities that would easily fit in the Vesuvius or Fulford Harbour neighbourhoods. By any measure, LCC's have been an unmitigated legislative failure over the past 30 years. Even the few communities that have an LCC want it repealed and there's been no appetite by other jurisdictions to introduce one. 

    At least with incorporation, a consultant produced a well-funded study that provided the foundation for a proper community discussion. I recommended that our CRD Director do the same regarding an LCC. He rejected the idea and instead turned to his friends and colleagues to produce a discussion paper. The CRD has made no formal comment, nor has the province, nor has any other third-party. There has been no balanced analysis. It's left up to the community to provide a critical perspective that would otherwise be expected in any normal jurisdiction.

    To be clear, I supported incorporation and still do. However, I understand that even incorporation has its drawbacks and complexities that are best left for another time, particularly given the fairly recent, decisive vote against it.

    For the record, I also sat on the self-appointed working group that met for a year or so to discuss island governance following the referendum. I know and respect the authors of the report but disagreed with their conclusion then, and disagree with them now. The bottom line is that in my view an LCC will make our governance structure more complex, more costly and more confusing than it is now. In various formats and ways I intend to show why that is the case.

    As SSIDancer says (whoever that is), it will be wise for everyone (including LCC supporters) to read the 34 page tome and understand that it's all purely hypothetical and has no connection with reality (or any LCC currently in existence). In particular, anyone who believes the propaganda that an LCC will be like a municipal council should know it will be more like a glorified student council. 

    An LCC is a committee/commission of the CRD. The CRD will decide how it functions and what authority it will have. Regardless what the pro LCC group thinks, it will be largely advisory, with no resources, no staff, no revenue and no legal authority. These key operational functions will remain under CRD oversight as they would with any other organization in similar circumstances. It's standard practice, for example, in most not-for-profit organizations. Anyone who thinks CRD staff or management will report directly to an LCC in the future is delusional.

    At least the "Rube Goldberg" structure we have now functions at a reasonable level. And in a significant demonstration of direct democracy, over 50 volunteer residents contribute their time and expertise on numerous commissions. You couldn't ask for more voices from the community.

    Heaven forbid if a referendum proceeds and is successful. Along with the Islands Trust, the CRD, and the province we will have another, 4th layer of government with a head office in Victoria.

    Let the games begin.

  • LOL...the referendum was won with money and lots of it...the postively NO folks giving more than twice the amount of the YES!

    Also as someone who actually governance here (IT area) why are spending your time talking about people and not the issue?

    Please do tell how this commission will solve our collective woes?

  • Brian Webster says:

    Hi Shelley Mahoney.

    A Local Community Commission is provided for under provincial legislation, so, yes, the province will allow "this nonsense." As for the CRD, it is CRD staff who are drafting the bylaws, so they too will allow "this nonsense."

    I invite you to read the paper and encourage the CRD to ensure its recommendations are reflected in the bylaws. That's how we can make sure a Salt Spring LCC is NOT "under Victoria's thumb."

  • Brian Webster says:

    Hi Bob Moffat.

    Thanks for encouraging people to read the paper. Have you done so?

    If you have, you will know that a lot of what you have said in this posting is simply not correct. The CRD can delegate all of its responsibilities to an LCC, short of bylaw approval and final okay of the annual budget (because it is also a bylaw). So an LCC would be far more than a 'glorified student council.'

    Yes, it is true that many island residents have given of their time and expertise to serve on our current commissions. I have been one of those people. However, our current commissioners, aside from our single electoral area director, lack one essential component of decision-makers in a democracy: none of us were elected. We were all appointed and are essentially accountable to no one. LCC commissioners would be elected island-wide and fully accountable just like other elected local government representatives across the province.

    You are also correct that an LCC for Salt Spring Island would be a first. Does that make it a bad thing? Given that the only other significant governance proposal of recent years was rejected by voters by a large margin, I think it's hard to argue on the one hand that local government doesn't work as well as it might on Salt Spring and then on the other hand to say that an LCC could not improve it.

    Please read the paper before passing judgement on the proposal.

  • Brian Webster...they would not allow it during the incorporation "times" and sorry but your word on whether the province or CRD will allow it is an opinion only.

    And would it be the first time that staff is doing something that management doesn't know about?
    Drafting a bylaw does not mean it will be okayed....please do report FACTS.

    Without a proper city council we will be under Victoria's thumb.

  • Brenda Guiled says:

    The pro-incorporation side argued that we need a mayor and council to answer to the electorate -- that is, to spectrum of people, their interests, and needs. An LLC would provide that, with one SSI-CRD Director and four commissioners working on the service delivery front. It wouldn't give them land-use and zoning powers.

    The idea of the Trust is to separate land-use and zoning from service delivery, so developers can't stack a council by funding their election campaigns, then influencing them to change zoning and offer special variances. This is how countless municipalities have ended up with infrastructure and sprawl that suits the money more than the community's needs and desires.

    Shelley: A referendum has a people component, because it comes down to which side gets the most votes, and that means people voting. Many voters put their money where their mouths are. The issues matter, of course, but people drive the issues, and numbers of people and their financial support drive the results. It's fair game to note numbers and funding in our discussions. Elections BC demands that the latter be declared and public.

  • Brenda Guiled says:

    Thanks, Brian. Well said and succinct.

  • Pierre Frisch says:

    I think this is based on a misunderstanding of why the incorporation failed. I think we have too much governance not too little. Any new governance body should replace an existing one and do two things:
    Be easier to access for resident. We need to be able to go and talk directly to someone when things don’t go the way we want.
    Reduce the cost. Any new governance body should ideally reduce the cost by trimming duplication. It should be a written goal of NOT requiring any new resources.
    As it is presented the LCC is not very different to incorporation with more limited goal but still using more resources than at present. Before approving such a body I would like to see guarantees that it budget will come out of the existing CRD and Island trust budget and will not require any new taxes.
    Our governance is too complex and needs to be simplified but this only add another body to our already complex nightmare.

  • Bob Moffatt says:

    I'm delighted to see that you're using your real name. Also, note my last name is spelled Moffatt.

    I'm quite familiar with your discussion paper. It's just a torqued version of an earlier document published three years ago by the same group that nobody read. The chances of residents, even supporters reading it are slim, but I'll continue to encourage folks to try.

    Of course the CRD can delegate as much authority as it deems appropriate. However, it won't meet your expectations. I'm sure you're familiar with not-for-profit organizations and how they function, delegate authority to committees, relate to staff and so forth. The CRD board is no different. An LCC is a commission and commissions are primarily advisory. The CRD have the resources (staff and so forth) to provides the services and carry out the work, not an LCC.

    The CRD Director continues to make this up as he goes along. A short while ago, there were to be four elected commissioners, now it's six. Commissioners were to be paid a modest stipend, now the compensation will be similar to a municipal councillor, but without the responsibilities common to a typical municipality.

    Our volunteer commissioners take their jobs seriously and are accountable to the community through the commissions they represent. Their expertise and contributions are extremely valuable as you were on the Parks and Recreation Commission.

    There's no guarantee that because commissioners are elected there'll be more "democracy," accountability or expertise than individuals currently involved. Furthermore, it'll take four years to remove them if they're incompetent, or for any number of other reasons. I'm sceptical of the notion that volunteers will become an advisory body to the LCC. If it was truly a serious option you'd think the CRD Director would have implemented it - but no attempt has been made to do that in the last few years.

    There's a great danger in politicizing the election process where local groups form "parties" to push a particular agenda. It's already occurring and a contributing factor to the divisiveness in our community. An LCC will perpetuate it. 

    It's better to stay with our current structure and improve it rather than embark on the far-fetched, municipality-like proposal in the discussion paper. An LCC is just like a commission. It's not an autonomous entity and never will be. The result will be another layer of government with a head office in Victoria. It will cost more, complicate governance, confuse residents further (if that's possible) and not ensure better or more efficient decision making. 

    We can make many key improvements to the current structure now. Commissions can be combined tomorrow with the legal authority to carry out agreed on duties and responsibilities. These simple improvements are easy to do and I'm sure the CRD would help facilitate them.

    There are no pro-forma financial models that forecast LCC costs (and what costs will be offset for a cost-neutral scenario) over say 4 - 8 years and the effect on the overall budget. If the community is going to have an informed discussion, this information should be available. I'm afraid that stating a government agency will operate "as close as possible to a cost neutral basis" is highly dubious. The taxpayers would like to know how an LCC will save them money, as well as what it will cost.

  • Bob Moffatt says:

    Note that the LCC discussion paper calls for 6 commissioners, not 4. 

    You are mistaken to think that an LCC is like an incorporated municipality but without a land use/zoning function. There is no comparison. An LCC has no resources, no staff, no revenue and no legal authority. 

    It is a committee of the CRD, with very limited powers and largely advisory. It's a very lightweight solution and doesn't apply to a jurisdiction the size of SSI. 

    Without going into more detail, many municipalities are managing service delivery and land use quite well considering the pressures re taxes, housing, density, population increases, climate crisis, roads, environmental etc. Take a look at Ladysmith and North Saanich for example. They're similar in size to SSI. I'm not suggesting it's simple, but it's being done successfully in many areas.

    I don't think it's worth discussing incorporation. It's not on the table and likely won't be for some time, if ever. Let's improve what exists, rather than construct an imaginary version of a municipality that has little chance of improving island governance, but a greater possibility of complicating it and making it more costly. 

    As I've mentioned in another post, it's easy to combine various commissions right now and create an advisory body to assist the CRD Director with gas tax distribution and budget advice. We don't need an LCC.

    Good points for discussion though . . .

  • Bob Moffatt says:

    We have many excellent voices. We don't need more "community conversations" where nobody has the power to make decisions. People are tired of talking and incessant planning. We need to set priorities, agree on objectives and get things done. Many people are working hard in our community to do just that. An LCC will just be a launching pad for more meetings, more talk and a portal for inaction.

  • Bob Moffatt says:

    I appreciate the fact the Exchange is providing a forum for a discussion about an LCC. The "conversation" has been one-sided and a corrective view is long overdue.

    It's interesting the LCC support group seems obsessed with incorporation. In spite of the fact it was rejected, it appears they are trying to resurrect it and create an artificial municipality in its place, thus an LCC.

    But this is like attempting to squeeze a cord of wood into a wheelbarrow. It won't fit and no matter how much creativity is brought to bear, most pieces are left behind. One can only conclude that the CRD Director and his colleagues think incorporation is the best option, if only it wasn't like a real municipality.

    In a CBC news piece published on September 9, 2017 (before the referendum), former Islands trustee, Peter Lamb, who opposed incorporation, indicated that "he was less concerned about efficient government than land use." Peter went on to say: "It's not what's the most efficient way of doing this, but what kind of community do we want?" That describes our current governance in a nutshell.

    Asking the question rhetorically, are there any conditions where this group would support incorporation, rather than a fake municipality? In my estimation, the answer is NO, even if costs for roads, policing and so forth were somehow magically covered. For them, the Islands Trust and land use are critical and must remain separate from service delivery. This further explains the incoherence and confusion.

    With incorporation removed from consideration for some time, we're back to the inefficient option Peter alludes to, an LCC. As my father used to say "you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear", which is another appropriate way of describing an LCC.

    Residents should be very sceptical about the CRD directors oft repeated mantra that an LCC is like a municipal council. If taxpayers believe that, they should also know they're being sold a bill of goods they won't receive.

    Here's what a typical municipal council does:

    *Municipal councils are empowered to address the existing and future needs of their community by making collective decisions that are recorded in bylaws or resolutions. Such matters are wide-ranging--for example, regulatory bylaws such as animal control, services such as fire and police, land use regulation such as zoning, fees and property tax bylaws, and key plans such as the official community plan and five year financial plan (budget).*

    *Ultimately, municipal councils are responsible for the delivery of local services to their community and the actions taken by the municipality. As municipalities are legislatively recognized by the B.C. government as an order of government with in their jurisdiction, these responsibilities are undertaken largely independently with limited oversight by other levels of government. *

    An LCC is an empty shell in comparison. 

    The great risk is that, rather than making improvements to the present structure, an LCC will embed a permanent, inefficient framework that has no historical precedent, is incapable of delivering services and does not have the power to make decisions about crucial functions. A reminder that it will also have no resources, no staff, no revenue and no legal authority. And,  it will cost more.

    What I don't understand, is why the CRD Director and his LCC evangelists haven't made an attempt to improve what exists now. One of the key benefits of an LCC is the combination of services, but there's no reason why that can't be accomplished without forming an LCC. It's inexcusable that that hasn't been done. We're missing out on an opportunity to unite and work collaboratively to make it a success.

  • Pierre...we do have too much governance that DOES NOT WORK...look at us bending over for the fire department as their budget grows and grows and cannot be reigned in. Look at us letting affordable housing solutions rot because of the water boards...look at the Trust budget growing and growing and delivering nothing but words and advocacy letters...look at the Parks commission wasting dollars on master plan after plan, with off island consultants telling us what we want...when all we need is an arena and ballfields.

    Taxes will never go down, but getting a proper government can staunch the hemorrhage...and LCC is like leeches...they will suck more and more taxes with less and less service.

    We need accountable government, with the authority to do what is required...and the LCC isn't is an outdated idea by our CRD director who cannot do " creative, innovation etc...he is simply ensuring that he advances the ideas that his political donors want.

  • Brian Webster says:

    Shelley Mahoney, this comment shows exactly why we DO need a Local Community Commission.

    You accuse our current electoral area director of ignoring our current appointed advisory commissions. Regardless of whether this is actually true, the fact is that the electoral area director CAN ignore our current commissions for two reasons: one, the current commissions are appointed rather than elected, so have no mandate from or accountability to the community and are therefore easy to ignore. And two, the current advisory commissions have no authority, only the ability to provide advice to the electoral area director and the CRD board.

    By creating an LCC, we solve both problems. The people we elect to an LCC will have a mandate from the community and accountability at the next election. Plus, an LCC will have actual authority to make decisions, not just provide advice. This will be laid out in the establishment and delegation bylaws that will go to referendum.

    I realize that you might oppose an LCC no matter what, but it is at least useful for you to be offering your critiques, as this shows exactly how much of an improvement an LCC would be over our current local government structure. So, thanks for that.

  • Brian Webster says:

    Hang on a second... have you read the paper? If you have, you will know that what is recommended is NOT a 'community conversation' but rather an elected body that can make decisions and set priorities, with the power to do everything short of passing bylaws. An LCC is precisely the opposite of a 'portal for inaction.'

  • Brian Webster says:

    These are, of course, not 'the incorporation times.' These are times when we need to take action and that is what a Local Community Commission is all about.

    You are fully entitled to campaign against the Islands Trust and to keep on pushing for incorporation, despite its overwhelming rejection by voters. You can do both of those things and still do what I am going to do: support the establishment of an LCC as the best tool available to us to improve local government on Salt Spring within our current unincorporated status.

  • Brian Webster says:

    My apologies for mis-spelling your last name, Bob. Why would I not use my real name? Have I ever done anything on this island any other way?

    The discussion paper is not a 'torqued' version of any other document. It is a detailed examination of the options open to our community with an LCC, offering proposals on the key details of how an LCC could be organized and function.

    You say that commissions are and must be advisory. This is not correct. There are advisory commissions and there are commissions that have the authority to make decisions all the way up to, but not including, final approval of by-laws. The Local Community Commission proposed in the discussion paper would have this authority, set out in a bylaw that requires the approval of voters. Not something the CRD board can choose to ignore.

    It's interesting that you are now saying that you agree with consolidating commissions (which the LCC proposal would do). You are also saying that commissions can be given more than just advisory 'powers' (which an LCC would also do). But you don't want commissioners to be paid and you don't want them to be elected. Hmm. You want a single, consolidated and powerful commission made up of non-elected people who can serve with no compensation. Just rich folks and retired folks, I suppose.

    An LCC would give us the consolidation you want and the authority you want, but it would do so with members who are accountable to our community and who are paid modest stipends so even those who are NOT wealthy could afford to put their names forward to serve. This, I think, is a key point of disagreement and I am happy to put the question to the community in a referendum. I am banking on Salt Springers voting for democratically elected commissioners.

  • Brian Webster says:

    The LCC proposal is exactly what you are calling for, Bob Moffatt: "Let's improve what exists, rather than construct an imaginary version of a municipality." That is precisely what this LCC proposal is all about. It uses mechanisms currently available to us to improve local government, make it more representative of our community and more accountable to voters and doing all of this within the unincorporated model that voters have chosen in past referenda.

  • Brian Webster says:

    Shelley Mahoney, if you believe we have too much governance that does not work, then I would expect you to support consolidating at least four unelected advisory commissions with one elected LCC that has the power to get things done. That is what is being proposed here.

  • Brian Webster says:

    Not sure why you are denigrating those of us who support an LCC, Bob, but the fact is that an LCC would be capable of doing exactly what you say it is not capable of doing. You should know that establishment and delegation bylaws can give a Salt Spring LCC the authority to do what none of our current appointed advisory commissions can do. For example, an LCC could actually set priorities across a range of services, which our current commissions can't do because they have narrow focuses and are purely advisory. An LCC would have both the broad mandate and the power to say that one initiative or service or project is the top priority and where staff should be focusing their efforts. Right now, this is not possible, with only our single electoral area director having the ability to look at priorities across a range of services.

    I am encouraged that you are arguing for consolidation of services under one decision-making body. It seems that our only disagreement is that you want the single body to be unelected and to have the same lack of actual authority that our current appointed advisory commissions have. An LCC accomplishes the consolidation that you want with two big additional benefits: 1) Being composed of members elected by and accountable to our community and 2) Having the actual authority to set priorities and make decisions.

  • Bob Moffatt says:

    The CRD Director and a few partisans are proposing a major change in the island's governing structure, not me.

    The LCC proposal has been in the public domain for a few years and the CRD Director has been extolling its virtues in local media. Regardless of the public relations overreach, the community has shown little interest in it.

    There has been no critique or comment from anyone, including the CRD, the provincial government or the community. You'd think if the CRD or province thought an LCC was a good idea they would have said so. They didn't think an LCC was worth considering during the last referendum and it's obvious they don't think so now.

    At least with the incorporation study, the provincial government believed it deserved a comprehensive third-party study, and helped fund it. Not this time.

    Since a discussion paper has finally been published, you might expect to receive a few critical comments. This shouldn't be a surprise given the magnitude of the implausible scenario being proposed. In the interests of the community, it must be thoroughly scrutinized. 

    At least with the incorporation study, the provincial government believed it deserved a comprehensive third-party study, and helped fund it. Not this one. 

    Many of us who were born and raised in the islands and have had property on Salt Spring over the last 50 years feel passionate and very concerned about the way the island is governed. There are thousands of others who no doubt feel the same way. Taxpayers are under duress and don't want another costly layer of government. 

    Local community commissions have had virtually no uptake in the province, and only exist in a handful of tiny communities. In fact, Bear Creek is now considering repealing their LCC and the Regional District of Okanagan and Similkameen recently repealed the Olalla LCC. The reason is, they don't work.. 

    I think most residents will come to the same conclusion with this LCC. It doesn't make sense in Bear Creek and Olalla, and makes even less sense on Salt Spring. It's costly, far-fetched and should be rejected. You are playing defence this time, so buckle up.

  • Bob Moffatt says:

    It would've been easy to combine a couple of commissions and for the CRD Director to create an advisory group to provide input on gas tax distribution and the budget. Citizen assemblies are a common feature in many jurisdictions. Such simple changes might have given residents some confidence that perhaps it might be worthwhile considering other improvements. 

    It would also be easy to create a townhall with trustees and commissioners where residents can ask questions and participate in an exchange of views. 

    These are improvements are easy to do and don't require an LCC, a referendum or hiring six commissioners for four years who have virtually no authority or responsibilities of a typical municipal councillor – but would be paid the same.

    My guess is that six commissioners plus the CRD Director will cost taxpayers at least $250,000 a year. You still haven't provided any financial models (four and eight year) to show how this enormous increase in the budget will be close to cost neutral.

    There's been a lot of talk about an LCC for years, but no action to show how it might work even modestly as I've proposed above without creating another layer of government.