From left to right: Glenn Loxam, Jim Elliott, Peter Jacques, Gord Mason. Photo by Scott Strasser.

Union Bay Improvement District approves putting off letter to CVRD on pros and cons of conversion

CAO says there are other priorities Union Bay should focus on before addressing conversion to CVRD

Union Bay residents interested in learning if their local governing body will eventually convert over to the Comox Valley Regional District will have to wait a little longer.

At its November board meeting, UBID had passed a motion to send a letter to the CVRD requesting a study on the pros and cons of joining the regional district as a service area.

Read More: Erased video footage of board meeting puts blight on Union Bay Improvement District

The issue did not come up at the board’s following meeting in December, however, to the chagrin of some gallery members who asked about the letter’s status.

But at its board meeting on Jan. 18, UBID approved a new motion to put aside sending that letter and assessing its governance until other priorities are met.

After the meeting, UBID chief administrative officer Gord Mason said Union Bay has other focuses on its plate right now, including building a water treatment plant and implementing a new billing system.

The improvement district is also involved with trying to prevent impending logging near the shores of Langley Lake — Union Bay’s drinking water source — this summer.

Read More: Union Bay residents concerned about logging within Langley Lake watershed

Mason said the new motion did not erase the previous one and that he had spoken with Ministry of Municipal Affairs representatives about the community’s possible options for the future.

“The ministry stands that the main priority for Union Bay is to provide clean, safe drinking water for the residents,” he said.

“When I have the opportunities… we’re going to look at the three options we talked about, which are staying as an improvement district, the possibility of becoming a municipality or merging with the regional district.

“But we have to do things right, we have to do things strategically, and we have to do things with the staff that we have available.”

The debate surrounding governance in Union Bay is a longstanding issue. A petition to dissolve UBID and transfer its Letters Patent to the CVRD garnered more than 400 signatures in 2016.

UBID ultimately deemed the petition inadmissible due to some of the signees not being Union Bay landowners.

Read More: Group wants UBID dissolved

If Union Bay were to become a service area, such as the case in Royston or Black Creek, it would essentially dissolve UBID of its responsibilities and transfer its governance over to the CVRD.

One concern brought up at the Jan. 18 UBID meeting was that the study on conversion would cost the improvement district money or staff time.

Bruce Jolliffe, the CVRD’s Area A director (which includes Union Bay) says that would not be the case.

“Basically, they’d send a request to us for a study, the CVRD would take care of the rest, and we’d look after getting the funding,” said Jolliffe. “There are various funding options available to do those studies at no cost to UBID.”

UBID currently provides waterworks, street lighting, and fire protection services to about 1,200 people.

Mason said he will be meeting with the CVRD this week to discuss possible options moving forward.

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