Comox Valley Regional District asked to acknowledge culture

The Courtenay and District Museum and Comox Valley Art Gallery are requesting the regional district board to endorse various recommendations in a pair of reports conducted by Jennifer Wilson & Associates.
The reports are intended to assist in the decision-making process to establish a regional recreation/culture facilities service.
In particular, the organizations hope the board will agree to expand a bylaw to recognize culture alongside recreation as a force to develop the region.
"We're asking for a fundamental shift in the bylaw, not money," gallery administrator Sharon Karsten said last week at committee of the whole proceedings.
In recent years the museum received 33 per cent of its budget from Courtenay and two per cent from the CVRD. Last year it drew 6,500 students, and 23,000 local and international visitors.
The gallery is one of four regional public galleries on Vancouver Island. It drew 22,000 visitors last year.
"I want to commend you for what you do," said Courtenay director Jon Ambler, who feels cultural elements contribute to a city's livability.
Area B director Jim Gillis feels it is vital that arts and culture are considered side by side with sports and recreation.
"Let's hope we can find a way to make it work," Gillis said, noting the subject will resurface in June when staff reports back.
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The committee approved a recommendation to provide the local transit service an additional $75,000 to account for possible increases in operating costs, which are expected to be similar to 2011. It also approved a recommendation to advise BC Transit of a wish to reserve 5,000 expansion hours for possible implementation once the transit master plan has determined priorities.
The Valley now has 14 transit routes, including a new downtown Courtenay-to-Comox express connector.
The fleet consists of 12 vehicles to serve 45,000 people. About 600,000 rides were given last year, up 17 per cent from 2010.
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The committee also approved recommendations to approve 2012-2016 financial plans for the Regional Growth Strategy ($152,314 budget for 2012), the Emergency Program ($115,397), Search and Rescue ($87,596) and the Recreation Grant Service ($281,964).
Budget discussions continue Tuesday.

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