The Comox Valley Regional District has rolled out its itinerary for the governance study determining the future of Union Bay.
In a newsletter earlier this month, the CVRD released a schedule for the study. It is working with the Union Bay Improvement District (UBID), which oversees three services for residents in the community, and it has commissioned the consulting firm Urban Systems to undertake a “technical, unbiased review of the options” of Union Bay. Urban Systems’ mandate also includes engaging the community in the process this year. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is providing some of the funding for the study. UBID oversees water, fire protection and street light service in the community south of Courtenay.
The choices break down to maintaining the status quo while looking at ways to improve governance and service, or amalgamating all UBID services within the regional district. Incorporation as a municipality is not considered an option at this time.
The CVRD newsletter includes a timeline for the process, starting with the background review and stakeholder engagement through March into April, followed by an analysis of governance options in April and May. A draft report is slated for June, with an open house and further engagement through June and July.
“The consultant has been really clear,” says CVRD general manager of corporate services James Warren. “They want to do a real apples-to-apples comparison.”
The final document is scheduled for release in August prior to the issue going before Union Bay voters to choose the option.
“With this information that Urban Systems will put together, and an open house and newsletters … the goal is that the public will be well-enough informed to then make a decision at a referendum, probably in the fall to convert to regional district services or stay as an improvement district,” says Warren.
Urban System was brought on board following a request for proposals in January, which outline some of the goals of what needs to be accomplished and the information gaps that need to be filled.
The Record contacted UBID board interim chair Hein Vandenberg to see if he had any comments about the process but had not heard back as of press time. On the UBID website, there is a Dec. 19, 2019 letter from Vandenberg to the Minister of Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson, saying the board supports the study on service conversion. However, he also asked if referendum results do not support service conversion that the minister consider supporting a similar study on incorporation for the community as a municipality.
In other board news, UBID has given public notice of its upcoming election for two board members to start three-year terms in May. The election date is April 25, if at least three candidates run. The deadline for filing nomination papers is April 7. For more information on the governance study, email UBIDgovernance@urbansystems.ca