With a majority of Union Bay voters opting to roll improvement district services into the regional district, the question is what will happen next?
Representatives from both the Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) and the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) expect they will make moves at the local level soon to further the process of integration along.
Both boards expect to put forward resolutions about the conversion process during December. Representatives of both bodies met after the Nov. 28 referendum to talk about next steps.
“The targets are that we will both pass our resolutions this month, in December,” said UBID chair Ian Munro.
After this happens, the process moves on to the provincial government. With a new majority for the government and a new minister for municipal affairs, there is no clear timeline for when the province will be ready to give approval.
For the referendum, voters had to choose between keeping water, fire protection and streetlights under the current administration and governance of UBID or move them to the CVRD.
The hope is that everything for the conversion of services will be in place by July 1, 2021.
“After conversion, essentially what was UBID becomes service areas of CVRD,” Munro said.
Until that takes place, the UBID board will continue with its regular business.
“Next steps could include a lot more communication with the community,” he added.
One fact that should make the process move more easily is the strong mandate voters gave the idea of integration, as approximately 72 per cent of voters in the community south of Courtenay said yes to rolling the services into the CVRD.
“Whether it was yes or no, that was a wish of mine … please be clear about what you want,” Munro said. “This is a clear mandate.”
Area A director Daniel Arbour of the CVRD agrees about the importance of the decisive vote. He also said the process will be helped along by the fact that the governance process and resulting study this past year have already provided some answers to questions about moving services into the regional district.
“That’s the value of having spent the year together,” he said. “We’ve really taken a deep dive into the assets, the operations, everything over the last year, just to understand it, so I think it’s been very valuable.”
Arbour also expects there will be some kind of advisory group of residents after conversion to help guide the transition process.
“Once the official transfer happens, we’ll retain a committee of Union Bay folks, trustees or otherwise,” he said.
(This story has been edited to clarify that it was 72 per cent of voters who supported the ‘yes’ side, and not 72 per cent of ‘people,’ as stated.)