Across from Argyle Road, just outside the heart of Union Bay, there’s a field, and facing drivers connecting to the Old Island Highway are two signs with conflicting messages,
To the left, the sign says, “Vote No to CVRD,” while the sign to the right offers a rebuttal, ”Vote Today. Vote CVRD Makes Sense.”
On Saturday, Nov. 28 then, Union Bay voters made their choice as to which message they supported, ultimately deciding to go a new direction. The question before voters was: “Are you in favour of dissolving the Union Bay Improvement District and converting to Comox Valley Regional District local service areas?”
Unofficial results as of Saturday night showed 418 Yes votes to 159 No votes, meaning about 72 per cent of 557 voters opted for change.
Voting at the Union Bay Community Hall on general voting day was described as “steady,” following a couple of days of advance voting earlier this month.
At issue for voters in the community south of Courtenay was whether to roll the three services of water, fire protection and streetlights into Comox Valley Regional District administrative jurisdiction, or to maintain the status quo of having the Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) board and staff oversee operations, though with recommendations to enhance current governance.
The referendum question marked the end of a period for the community to consider the future of its governance. This has included discussions with stakeholders, forums for voters and a report looking at the ramifications of converting the services to the regional district. The governance discussion itself followed more upheaval on the board in recent years, which has included court action and resignations of board members.
“In recent years, there have been a number of challenges to UBID’s governance model including multiple board trustee resignations resulting in a loss of quorum. Staff transitions have added to the challenges,” the conversion study states.
On Nov. 19, returning officer Peter Crawford released numbers from the two days of advanced voting, held on Nov. 10 and 17. Voters cast a total of 415 ballots prior to general voting day. The recent governance study report notes that UBID provides service to 690 properties and almost 800 ratepayers.