The Town of Comox is requesting a review of the Comox Valley Regional District Economic Development Service, up to and including a potential service withdrawal.
Courtenay council has received the request, which came by letter from Comox Mayor Russ Arnott.
The letter is addressed to the regional district board, the participants of the service, and to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson.
“Economic development has become an increasingly divisive topic within the CVRD, and has led to a fraying of relationships as different members desire to pursue different development paths,” Arnott states.
He says the service delivery vehicle — the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) — has been subjected to criticism as people have questioned its ability to undertake economic development, and to operate in a transparent and effective manner — which comes at the expense of economic development work, and results in slow progress and building confusion on the “de jure and de facto governance model.”
Arnott notes that service reps have participated in exercises, including contract negotiations with CVEDS, to reach agreement between members. A liaison committee was formed, and a two-day strategic planning session was held.
“These steps have not created a more harmonious situation and instead have, in part, led to numerous CVEDS board resignations,” Arnott states.
Along with examining the governance model, Comox wishes to initiate a review to provide options for repairing the service, for Comox’s withdrawal, or for dissolving the regional service, given the differing views.
“Through this process it is important to remember that our region works collaboratively and constructively in many services. These services are discussed and delivered in a positive manner, where conversation and disagreement are understood and welcomed. Continued participation in a regional economic development model seems destined to pull us apart rather than unite us. It is time to discuss formally whether we would all be better served with a different structure of this regional function.”
Courtenay interim CAO Trevor Kushner is to discuss the issue with regional CAOs Thursday morning.