For several months now a group of citizens has been meeting in the hopes of initiating an independent study to determine if the governance of the Comox Valley is structured in a manner that will satisfy the political, cultural and public services the community needs to meet the challenges that growth brings.
“The recent announcement by the Auditor General for Local Government to conduct audits on spending habits of B.C. municipalities is certainly a move in the right direction,” said Joe Smith, who is acting as spokesperson for the group.
In fact representatives for the group had met with Minister Bill Bennett last September seeking guidance on how to approach the community to have a feasibility study conducted to determine future direction.
“The reason behind the group’s formation in the first place was in response to an underlying feeling, expressed by many people in the community, that something should be done to examine how we govern and provide services to our various communities,” said Smith.
“Some people are of the mind the communities should be amalgamated, others are of the opinion that only public services should fall under one roof. In fact there are many opinions,” continued Smith. “Our objective is to have a study conducted to find out for certain what direction the Comox Valley could be taking in the future.”
In a followup letter the group received from Bennett, he indicated that for a restructure study to be conducted in the area, it would require broad community support as well as support from the elected officials of Comox Valley municipalities and the Comox Valley Regional District board.
If there is sufficient desire expressed, then the Comox Valley would be able to petition the provincial government to conduct a study.
“It is these comments from the minister that the group is focusing on right now,” said Smith. “We need to find out if there truly is a desire to investigate how our different communities can co-operate in a manner that is fair and equitable for all.
"At this point in time no one knows for certain. We may even find that the majority has no desire at all to undertake such an initiative. However we need to know one way or the other so that we, the community in general, can direct our energies and resources to what is most important.”
Taking a neutral position, the members of the group feel that the only way to firmly resolve the issue is to begin a dialogue. Over the next few months the group plans to speak with various community and citizen based organizations in order to gather feedback. They are developing a Facebook page and a blog so that individuals can add their comments to the conversation.
At this point the group encourages other concerned citizens to speak with their local elected representatives, write letters to the editor or join in the conversation on the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cvgovreview.
Members of the group come from many different communities within the Comox Valley and they will be listed on the Facebook page. Anyone interested in becoming involved or who would like a representative to speak with their organization can contact the group via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.