Governance and the Gulf Islands
November 19th, we vote for Island Trustees, 26 people who will then elect a four-person Executive Committee. Members of the Executive chair Local Trust Committee meetings, and approve, or refuse approval, for bylaws passed by the LTCs.
For 38 years, the Trust has been shaped by forces ranging from hard-environmentalist activism to passive cynicism and dismissal, with occasional flashes of community involvement around specific proposals. These events have played out mostly in isolation – each community struggling alone with its governance dynamics in what the Trust refers to as “…a unique federation of independent local governments…” The Big Picture, including plans for expanding the Trust’s role in the life of all these communities, is largely concentrated in the Executive and administrative and planning staff located inVictoria.
This election cycle, things are changing. Isolation between communities is being overcome at the grass-roots level. Islanders seeking better alternatives are reaching out to each other across the “federation” and finding common cause outside official Trust information channels. Wider sharing of information and concerns will lead to a more mature relationship with the Trust than the present one of being under the appointed guardianship and administrative program of forces too-often based outside our communities.
Which leads back to the question: What have we learned, and what shall we do about it? What questions should be put to them to help us make up our minds? Some suggestions:
- When Islands Trust Mandates, Policy Statements, various ‘global warming’ and anti-vehicle agendas conflict with needs and desires of your community, where will your loyalty lie?
- What is your position on recent Trust budgets and their impact on taxes? Would you support rolling back any budget items, leave them as they are, or expand any?
- Can you reference an action or policy of theLTCor Trust Council you support or don’t support that would give voters a clue of how you might behave in office?
Readers will no doubt have their own lists. Some may have moved to Mayne to be part of an ongoing experiment in eco-activism, and appreciate strenuous efforts of the Trust to protect us from our baser humanity. Others came here hoping for a less intrusively regulatory, authoritarian environment. Public-spirited candidates will all have their fine qualities, but how will their philosophies, assumptions, tendencies and agendas affect ability to live as we want in this chosen place? Don’t be shy about asking candidates where they stand; you have the power, until you hand it to them.
Aside from funding support for local Parks and Recreation, a volunteer-run organization that Mayne Islanders are deeply grateful to, theCRDcontrol’s ourMinersBaywharf, and has a growing involvement in our groundwater issues.
MIRRA was frustrated in its efforts to get better vehicle access to the wharf, unable to convince theCRDthat their vehicle barrier policy was not structurally necessary and was a chronic inconvenience to some Mayne Islanders.
RegardingCRDtakeover of water districts, what are impacts on users and other taxpayers likely to be when this infrastructure is controlled by a non-community bureaucracy? Can we get more local perspective incorporated intoCRDdecision making? Are there candidates for whom this might be a priority?
September 17 at the Community Centre: an important meeting with the BC Ferries Commissioner, who is reviewing the impact of BC Ferries on island communities. All are encouraged to attend and participate in the discussion. Small business owners in particular have a unique opportunity to voice their concerns to the commissioner. The review will look into the current price cap model and assess its impact on the affordability and sustainability of ferry service to communities depending on it.
Members of MIRRA’s executive met recently with Mark Traverso, Operations Manager, Ministry of Transportation and Highways, V.I. District, Saanich Area Office, and Leon Bohmer, Manager of Mainroad Contracting,South Island. Sympathy was offered for the condition of our roads, but budget constraints only allow for keeping up with worst cases of pavement failure. $2,000,000 in paving commitments by previous managers were in fact undocumented and are not in force. Figures were cited to show Mayne is not being short-changed for its share of available budget.
After being toured around Mayne’s crumbling infrastructure, they came away with an impression that some roads need serious work (HortonBayand Gallagher Bay Roads in the area of MacKay’s farm, andWaugh Road). Concerns with the undermining ofGeorgina Point Roadat Garrick hit home and they assured us this was a priority. They say we are likely to see about the same amount of paving each year, and they will try to focus on the bad sections. They suggested undertaking some polling on island to ensure they were addressing community concerns. We shall see, but at least the lines of communication are open.
October 8th,1 PM at the Community Centre. Memberships, $10 at the door. The Ratepayers are not a one-trick pony: issues critical to the community abound. MIRRA can always use more help from members and encourages candidates to stand for directorships on the board. Membership fees cover basic expenses, but donations are always welcome to help with costs of special community meetings and projects, etc.
Municipal Incorporation Discussion Meeting
MIRRA is intending to host a meeting discussing pros and cons of the municipal option. We’re hoping for a date in October, before the Islands Trustee All-Candidates Meeting, intending that it will add some depth of consideration to governance issues.
Canada Post plans to implement a new addressing policy for community organizations, namely, free numbers at group boxes will cease, and we’ll have to pay $120 a year at the Post Office, or have mail sent to an individual’s address. Sound like good service? Didn’t think so. Can we get together to register our dissatisfaction and need for a better solution?