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Consideration to combine commissions, committees on some regional services being investigated

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
July 11th, 2024

There is something to be said for thinking outside of the box.

And there is a regional district-wide movement to think outside of the box when it comes to delivering the services of recreation and parks.

At an all-recreation commission meeting late last month one of the most significant items discussed was the number of recreation commissions and community commissions across the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK).

All of those disparate commissions and committees had passed similar motions, asking how governance can be carried out differently on a committee level, which is a community services conversation, said City councillor Keith Page, also the chair of Recreation No. 5 commission that serves Nelson and district.

“Because there is an alignment across all of these disparate parts of the system asking for something similar, we are sending (regional district) staff off looking at what sub-regional community services would look like for Nelson and district, Salmo and Area G, the South Sloan communities and Castlegar and its district,” he said July 2 during the councillor reports segment of a City council meeting.

There is a report expected to come back to the all-recreation commission but is not tied to any timeline.

The change “could be on creating a decision-making table that would consolidate things like Parks and Recreation, libraries and economic development so that we are having those conversations more as major cities and their rural partners as opposed to individual silo based on bylaws,” Page explained.

Coun. Kate Tait was also at the meeting, noting that Nelson, Areas E and F have a lot of services that go together, and right now those services have their separate committees and commissions.

“The idea is to perhaps find a way for those different committees and commissions for those little sub-regions to all meet at once, so that when you are talking about recreation it also takes into account parks, because they are separate right now,” she said.

Combining the committees is a model that works well in Creston, said Page.

“You might have decisions that come forward and only part of the table is involved in that service so they get to vote, but everybody gets to benefit from being at the conversation,” he said. “It’s just a place that’s easy for the public to access because they are not trying to nail down all of these commission meetings.”

The Rec 5 commission, the all-recreation committee and the City will be getting some reporting as what that government structure might look like, Page said.

It is not clear if the current committees and commissions would be retained if the new government structure is created.

Nelson Mayor Janice Morrison said it was time for a reminder that the Provincial government needs, in its next mandate, to look at actually finishing its review of local government structure and operation.

“Because while we (municipalities) have a Community Charter which we can utilize here in the City of Nelson, they stopped short of doing a review of regional districts, and a model that was put in place in 1964 is a model that really” doesn’t work in 2024, she pointed out. “So there needs to be some wholesale change, so … we can make some on the ground while we are moving in that direction.”

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