The torch passed quietly for Union Bay, as the Comox Valley Regional District is now responsible for water service, fire protection and streetlights in the community south of Courtenay.
The Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) office technically closed on June 25, but there was a small ceremony for June 30 to hand over the proverbial keys.
“Thank you to the UBID staff, trustees, and volunteers who have contributed their time, hard work and leadership to maintain and supply services to the community for the past 60 years,” former UBID chair Ian Munro said in a news release. “There is a significant history of successfully providing critical services and achieving progress for the community that should not be overlooked. Union Bay continues to own its proud heritage on Vancouver Island, and this conversion is merely a step on the path towards our promising future.”
Union Bay voters supported a proposal last fall to convert the services UBID provides to the CVRD as of July 1.
At the latest CVRD meeting on June 29, the board passed housekeeping bylaws in order for the services.
Area A director Daniel Arbour, who represents the electoral area including Union Bay, brought up the issue of service rates, explaining there had been some discussion among residents about rates increasing associated with the takeover.
“The rates are not changing,” deputy chief administrative officer James Warren responded.
The UBID board did bring in rate hikes in the spring to account for operating costs. The change at the CVRD level, Warren added, was the bylaw would allow a change to quarterly billing from bi-monthly.
The four bylaws covered water tolls and other charges, district fire service administration, parcel taxes and, finally, water use and distribution. When the bylaws passed, there was a brief round of applause from the board table.
In the news release about the June 30 ceremony, Arbour said, “A big thank-you is in order for all those who have contributed to delivering the many details of this transition with dedication and cooperation…. It has been a complicated task that required hard work from many individuals. The CVRD and UBID teams demonstrated professionalism, collaboration and utmost respect throughout the conversion process.”
At a March 20 meeting, the UBID board brought up the idea of the ceremony for the end of June, even though broader public events had been restricted in terms of numbers due to COVID-19 regulations. Board chair Ian Munro said the idea had come up at an open house as a way to thank UBID staff and those who served on the board for the roughly 60 years of its existence.
“That was the proposal, and I responded at that meeting to say I thought it was a good idea,” he said.
While the transfer was smooth, the community faced controversy and dissension in recent years, leading up to last fall’s referendum in which 72 per cent of voters supported the move to convert services to the regional district. Even in board meetings earlier this year, the online meetings faced disruptions, though it was not clear whether the intrusions were politically motivated.
To assist residents, the CVRD has provided information about the changes on its website at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/ubid