The board at Cowichan Valley Regional District couldn’t decide on a regional formula for funding recreation in the Valley at a special meeting on April 27.
But directors did agree to explore the possibility of establishing a number of sub-regional committees to work together to deal with outstanding recreational issues in the district, including the funding of the region’s nine regionally significant recreation facilities.
After a lengthy debate, council passed a motion asking staff to develop a framework for establishing the sub-regional recreation committees that will be brought back to the board for consideration.
“I don’t expect that this idea will make everybody happy, but it will not make everybody angry either,” said board chairman Jon Lefebure.
“If the decision is made (after the report is tabled), each sub region in the district will be in a position to negotiate their outstanding issues between these committees.”
Friday’s meeting came on the heels of a report tabled by the CVRD’s regional recreation committee in which committee members said the existing status-quo funding of the nine main recreation facilities in the regional district is no longer an option.
Currently, recreation projects and complexes in the CVRD are planned, built and funded piecemeal by self-interested areas and municipalities within the regional district, rather than by the regional district as a whole.
This has led to years of in-fighting among areas within the regional district competing for recreation projects and dollars.
The committee brought forward several funding models at a recent workshop, with each model proposing to apportion costs on a single new basis for funding; namely, usage, population, taxable assessment, proximity and hierarchy of use.
But the committee couldn’t decide which model it would recommend to the board, leaving the consultant to prepare a recommendation that would have seen some jurisdictions in the district paying more for recreational services, while others would pay less.
But, after more than three hours of discussions at the meeting, no consensus could be found and CAO Brian Carruthers suggested exploring the possibility of the sub-regional recreation committees.
“There would still be some problematic areas, but this model would allow the different jurisdictions to negotiate among themselves to solve problems,” Carruthers said.
“This takes these issues from the board table and puts them back in the community where solutions can be developed. This should not be considered a finite solution, but a part of an ongoing process.”
Only Alison Nicholson, director for Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora, voted against asking staff to prepare the report.
She said she’s not convinced the initiative would help the district with its regional recreation issues.
“We’re looking for some way forward, and think this may, or may not, do that,” Nicholson said.
Ian Morrison, director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls, had introduced a failed motion at the meeting proposing that current governance models stay in place and negotiations begin between municipalities and electoral areas to deal with financial inequities.
He said he would support the writing of the staff report.
“I’d like to see that before we get too far into this process,” he said.
Sharon Jackson, a director from the City of Duncan, said during the meeting that she wasn’t satisfied with the status quo.
“This has been an issue for 32 years,” she said. “I see this motion as the only way we can move this forward.”