Just what “slice” of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s (RDN) Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) does Area B (Gabriola, De Courcy and Mudge islands) subscribe to and what does the area get from it?
‘Studies that might be helpful in planning’ was among the answers given to that query, which was posed by Trustee Sheila Malcolmson at a recent protocol meeting between Islands Trust and Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) staff and elected representatives.
RDN Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Carol Mason said at the meeting at the Trust office on North Road, that former Regional Director Berni Sperling asked that Area B be added to the RGS because many of the regional district’s studies “went beyond land use”, addressing broader issues from which the area could benefit. She said Area B is not included in land-use planning for other district areas, but does have a “valuable” vote on amendments to the RDN’s strategic plan. She said this gives the area “a direct elected input into activities that happen in other areas in the regional district”.
Trustee Gisele Rudischer said Sperling asked to add Gabriola to the function “because we wanted money for our affordable housing study”. RDN General Manager of Development Services Paul Thorkelsson said he wasn’t sure if that was the reason, but “that did flow out of” a request they got from the Local Trust Committee (LTC) for funding towards the study.
Mason said the LTC got about $8,000 for that project. Thorkelsson added that there are other projects that “might be of interest on a broad planning basis”. He said there are ways for the LTC to tie into those other studies.
Mason said Area B would be considered as part of any economic studies. Thorkelsson said a study on options for rural development would be relevant for the LTC. He said this will have “some good information on land use and alternate approaches to developing rural areas”.
Mason said Area B’s financial contribution for the service is not large, especially compared to what it gets. Rudischer was not so sure, noting the cost was twice as much as what the LTC got for the housing study.
Malcolmson said she was not familiar with what services are available from the strategic plan. There needs to be some way to keep trustees in the loop, she said.
Mason said the RDN could explain how the finances are being used. She said it might also be valuable for trustees to be invited to “sit in on a Sustainability Select Committee meeting as ex-officio members”, as a lot of the RGS work is done through that committee. Malcolmson said the LTC would discuss this.
Thorkelsson said the committee has a number of initiatives underway. Regional Director Howard Houle agreed to let the LTC know when he sees an agenda item that might be of interest.
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