In hopes of strengthening the democratic process of former communist Ukraine, Comox council voted to apply to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for participation in their Partnership for Local Economic Development and Democratic Governance.
The idea was presented at Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting from a delegation presentation from Stewart Goodings, a former consultant for FCM, who explained he first went to Ukraine in 1992, to assist the country with the transition from the communist to the democratic system.
“Under the old system, local governments didn’t have much power or control,” he said. “The idea is to share a lot of knowledge … (there is) a lot of mutual respect between the two countries.”
Goodings added citizens in smaller communist countries simply didn’t have any opportunity to participate in the governance of their communicates.
“Now Canada has the opportunity to do that again.”
The program through FCM is a five year, $19.5 million program in Ukraine with the goal to support long-term social and economic growth and prosperity. Municipal volunteers would advise PLEDDG’s initiatives.
Coun. Ken Grant asked what – if any – the costs would be for the town.
“Cost – all travel expenses and out-of-pocket … would be covered by the project. There are costs involved in terms of time,” noted Goodings.
The initiative is funded by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.
Coun. Hugh MacKinnon added he believes the concept is worthwhile and recommended the town apply.
The motion was unanimously passed with the exception of Mayor Paul Ives who was not present.
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Council approved first, second and third reading to a slight increase to 2016 water, sewer and waste collection and disposal fees.
In his report to council last week Don Jacquest, director of finance for the town, said beginning Jan. 1, 2016, the Comox Valley Regional District is planning to increase bulk water rates by 0.02 per cubic metre, plus a 10 per cent increase in its sewer requisition, and another $10/tonne increase at the landfill.
The town purchases their water and uses utility services through the regional district.
He added in his report the town’s 2015-2019 financial plan anticipated for the rises and projected increases in the 2016 utility fees to pay for them: $6 more for water (from $327 to $333 per residence); $27 more in sewer (from $348 to $375) and $12 more for garbage (from $198 to $210).
Jacquest added there is good news – to Sept. 30 the town’s bulk water purchases are down eight per cent and the sewer flows are down more than two per cent.
He credits that mostly to the Stage Three water restrictions throughout the summer, but added he hopes some of the efficiencies will persist.
Despite the regional district’s rate increase, he proposed no increase to flat rate fees for water and proposed less of an increase to the flat rate for residential sewer ($21 instead of $27).