CVRD considers new ways to engage the public during annual budget-building process. (File photo)

CVRD looks for ways to engage public in budget process

Participation has been low in recent years

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is considering new approaches to gather public input during the annual budget-building process.

A staff report, prepared by communications and engagement manager Kris Schumacher, said that town-hall meetings held in previous years were mostly sparsely attended, as were public meetings held last year by each of the district’s eight commissions and committees to gather input into their specific budgets.

Schumacher said other local governments have attempted to engage residents with the use of online budgeting tools, as North Cowichan did with the Citizen Budget platform around its 2018 budget.

“Despite heavy public promotion of the tool, North Cowichan only received 213 participants, which represents just 0.9 per cent of residents,” he said in the report.

Schumacher pointed out that the CVRD operates 180 services, each with its own budget and myriad of operational and financial considerations.

“It is distinctly different from a municipality in that almost every one of its functions requires a voter-assented service with its own tax requisition,” he said.

“This is one of many reasons why it is difficult for the general public to understand the CVRD budget and provide informed input to assist the board in their decision-making process.”

Considering the struggle to engage with the public during the annual budget-building process and solicit feedback, Schumacher said staff propose consideration of a number of new approaches.

One is to seek the public feedback much earlier in the 2020 budget process which would allow the public more time to become informed of budgetary changes and challenges to be addressed.

As well, Schumacher said tools like PlaceSpeak and the CVRD website can and have been used effectively to inform the public and collect feedback on a range of topics, so effort could be spent to make the 2020 budget even easier to navigate and interpret for residents from the comfort of their own homes, and on their own time.

“Reducing the number of public meetings would save resources and potentially see better attendance at the meetings that were held,” he said.

“This approach could include multiple meetings, but scheduled throughout the budget process rather than clustered together at one stage in the process.”

Schumacher said hosting public meetings to review only certain services, or groupings of services, like recreation and solid waste, may also see greater public participation.

“Consideration of the budget in its entirety can be seen as unwieldy for many, and some residents may be more willing to engage on topics that they feel strongly about or have a deeper knowledge of,” he said.

The CVRD’s corporate services committee asked Schumacher at its meeting on June 12 to summarize the options and bring back a report outlining them with the associated costs.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

North Cowichan partners with province to improve home energy efficiency through rebate program

B.C. government will administer both the new top-up rebate program and provincial rebate program

Extension given for Cowichan region homeless tenting sites

Meeting with BC Housing to determine the next step

Coronavirus limits the right medicine

Opening up the economy a risk with cases overall still not under control

La Petite Auction House makes the switch to retail consignment store

Pricing items becomes the norm over taking in-person bids

Man dies at temporary Duncan tent site for homeless

First Nations man died at The Mound site

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read