It’s a matter of balance and representation.
The residents of Area C South Shuswap in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District have long local questioned governance.
At their Oct. 15 board meeting, directors were unanimous in their support of an application to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for $50,000 to help offset the cost of a governance study.
Despite having almost 14 times the population of Area B Rural Revelstoke at 552, according to the 2011 census, South Shuswap with 7,662 residents gets only one representative on the regional district board.
While the possible incorporation of Sorrento has been discussed before, South Shuswap director Paul Demenok is quick to point out the request for funding is for a study that will include the entire 601 square kilometre electoral area.
“The rationale is that Area C is disproportionately large in terms of population and is underrepresented at the board table,” he says. “Area C has more than 10 times the population of Area B but we have the same vote.”
Demenok says he and CSRD chair Rhona Martin met with Peter Fassbender, minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) in September.
He says it was a positive meeting and the regional district was advised to apply for the funding to review governance and lay out options.
“There are a number of options – remaining in the status quo, subdividing Area C into smaller areas or incorporation of part or all of Area C,” Demenok says. “A recommendation will be made by a governance committee of residents to the ministry upon completion of the study.”
In order to send a request for funding to Fassbender, Demenok first needed to get a board resolution supporting the governance study.
In his report to the CSRD board, chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton pointed out the question of governance in the Sorrento community has been an important to area residents dating back to 1990, with letters being exchanged between the CSRD and the ministry on the topic of an incorporation feasibility study for the Sorrento community.
“Until recently, the scope of the incorporation study focused solely on Sorrento,” wrote Hamilton in his report to the board.
“However, the area director has indicated it would be more appropriate to examine governance issues for a broader area, particularly in view of the fact that Sorrento has little or no industry or commercial operations.”
Directors agreed unanimously to support Hamilton’s recommendations to undertake a governance study and the draft terms of reference that have been developed to guide the study process.
Demenok says the process will take quite a period of time and will include “substantial community engagement and consultation.”
He says his guess is that the process would begin sometime in 2016.
The process involves retaining a qualified consultant to carry out the governance analysis as well as the public consultation.
The budget estimate is $50,000 for the study, $10,000 for advertising, consultation, consultant travel and other miscellaneous costs, and $5,000 for meeting expenses.