Published On: Friday, 10 March 2017

Council Reject's CRD 's Regional Growth Strategy

Council Reject's CRD 's Regional Growth Strategy

- RJ Senko is a Vice-President at the Esquimalt Chamber and President of RJStrategies. He can be reached at 250.888.3534.

ESQUIMALT - Regular readers of this column will know that I often use this space to question the decisions of Council and to suggest the need for a greater degree of transparency in their decision-making process.

That’s because a vital part of our democratic process is to hold elected officials and bureaucrats to account for the decisions they make on behalf of taxpayers. It is also part of the Chamber’s mandate to advocate on behalf of its members.

Questioning Council and staff actions should not be taken as criticism but instead a legitimate means of ensuring our employees are properly serving the taxpayers of the community. In the case of the Esquimalt Council and staff, I believe the answer is generally yes but like any organization, there are always improvements that can and should be made.

Over my time writing this column I have identified many issues where Council should provide greater transparency around the reasons for its decisions. However, one area where I believe Council has done a good job of making and explaining its decision is on its rejection of the CRD’s Regional Growth Strategy.

On this issue Council has squarely stood up for the future aspirations of our community to decide for itself how it wishes to develop.

This decision also clearly illustrates the dysfunctional nature of the CRD governance model as evidenced by the numerous other communities that have also said no to the Regional Growth Strategy on behalf of their citizens.

Proponents of amalgamation will say this is yet another example of why the current system of independent fiefdoms needs to be eliminated in favour of a unified governance model. And while there is definitely merit in exploring how the various municipalities of the CRD can work together, we at the Esquimalt Chamber are only too aware of the complexities of merging governing entities given all the competing interests at play.

That said, we look forward to the consultants’ report on the Capital Integrated Services and Governance Initiative, which is expected shortly.

In the meantime, we are thankful that Esquimalt Council is protecting our ability to make our own decisions as it relates to future development in our community.