All but one of the regional directors representing rural electoral areas voted ‘no’ Tuesday on a new Regional District of Nanaimo Regional strategic plan.
This was despite the fact that the directors had not discussed their positions before the vote, Regional Director Howard Houle said by phone Thursday. Besides himself, Houle said, in a recorded vote, Alec McPherson of Area A, Maureen Young of Area C, Julian Fell of Area E, and Bill Veenhoff of Area H all voted against the plan, which outlines the board’s long-term vision for how it intends to develop the district. Seven of the board’s 17 regional directors, including Chair Joe Stanhope, represent rural areas while the rest represent municipalities.
Despite the overwhelming disagreement with the plan by rural director’s Houle said, the plan passed.
Although there was also no discussion during the meeting about why the rural-based directors were against the plan, Houle said, after the meeting directors did share their surprise to have voted in a block. He said the dissenters agreed that: “Once again we have an urban plan for a rural area. That’s not what we want. We want a more rural plan.”
He added that the rural electoral area directors have been given literature suggesting supposed “rural development alternatives” for use in official community plans. Calling the suggestions “interesting” he said the reaction from the rural directors to the proposed policies was “no, no, and no”. He said rural areas simply don’t have the tax base and access to infrastructure to operate the way urban areas do – a reality that the proposed policies didn’t seem to grasp.
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