The Comox Valley Regional District board approved $25,000 for a study to consider the possibility of re-activating a regional parks service. File photo

The Comox Valley Regional District board approved $25,000 for a study to consider the possibility of re-activating a regional parks service. File photo

Comox Valley directors discuss regional parks service

At its Dec. 15 meeting, the Comox Valley Regional District board approved $25,000 for a study to consider the possibility of re-activating a regional parks service that went dormant after being established in 1971.

District staff say there is a renewed interest in the service to create greenway links between municipalities, and to acquire large land parcels of regional interest.

While a community parks service primarily benefits rural areas, a regional service is more widespread with all local governments contributing. Parks and trails under a regional service tend to focus on land for environmental protection or nature-based outdoor recreation.

In a presentation about the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership (CVCP), Comox Valley Land Trust executive director Tim Ennis spoke in support of re-establishing the service. The CVCP is a program operated by the CVLT. It was formed in 2008 to advocate for protection of sensitive ecosystems in the region. Ennis noted local at-risk species such as the western painted turtle and the Townsend’s big-eared bat.

“We’ve been effective at working with the CVRD to accomplish projects such as the Ruth Masters Greenway,” he said. “With CVRD support, we’ve been able to leverage on each other’s strengths to achieve greater conservation successes, I think, than what could have happened if we had worked in isolation.”

With the Morrison Creek Conservation Area, for example, he said the CVRD parks service contributed one-third of the fair market value of the property while the CVLT raised the other two-thirds.

“We wholeheartedly encourage the CVRD board to reactivate the regional parks service,” Ennis said. “Simply put, I think together, we could do more, with more.”

The board send a letter to the Town of Comox, City of Courtenay, and Village of Cumberland to gauge support for expediting the process to activate the service.

Homelessness Supports Service review

•A consultant is reviewing the Homelessness Supports Service Bylaw, which enables the CVRD to provide funds to one or more non-government organizations based on a five-year action plan prepared by the Coalition to End Homelessness.

Since 2015, the service has contributed money to a variety of projects, including single detached dwellings, supportive housing, condominium units, and capital improvements to the Connect Warming Centre. Funding recipients are coalition members. These include the Wachiay Friendship Centre, Comox Valley Transition Society, Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society, John Howard Society and Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North. To date, 78 affordable housing units have been partially funded through the service.

Courtenay director Doug Hillian feels it is worthwhile to consider the long-term sustainability of the service.

“Of course, we all want to see an end to homelessness, and would like to see the investment from federal and provincial sources that might help to bring that about,” he said. “But in the meantime, I think we can all acknowledge the tremendous value that the decision to start this service has brought about.”

Union Bay to convert services

•In a recent referendum, 72 per cent of Union Bay landowners voted in favour of dissolving the UBID and converting to regional district services. The CVRD board voted to support the conversion. The target date is July 1, 2021.

Area A director Daniel Arbour credits the UBID for initiating a water treatment plant, but cautions the board to be aware of many critical issues on the horizon.

In terms of fire services, he said the community identified a need for a new fire hall in 1996.

“That’s something that I’ll ask we put our attention to right of way,” said Arbour, noting UBID has secured land for a fire hall through Union Bay Estates.

The conversion means the CVRD will be taking on more staff members.