RDN Director's Report

Director Howard Houle

Wednesday, March 30 2016

At the RDN 2016 started off slow then built, closer to the end of the month, into the usual frenzy of meetings. At the RDN board meeting of Jan. 12, I proposed a motion “That staff provide an analysis of establishing Handy Dart service for Electoral Area B residents with trips starting from the Gabriola ferry terminal in Nanaimo”.  

“Why?” is the first question. 

Answer: because a resident talked with me about the big difference it would make in her life, but the even bigger difference it would make to her disabled daughter. 

After that I asked around and found out how hard both financially and time-wise it was to take someone with a disability to programs that make a difference to their life. 

This is just a staff report, and once we know the facts then we can look at what we may be able to do.

The second of three community to community meetings with the Qualicum First Nations took place on the 13th of January. We are close to a protocol agreement, and just need to make sure that we are both agreeing to things we can do under the two different legislations that govern what we do. When this passes it will be historic for the RDN as it will be our first agreement with a First Nation that covers so many things in such a respectful way. 

The AGM for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) was interesting. 

We are waiting to see if the union is going to except our offer to settle the employee contract for five years. 

It would be great to see us avoid closing down because of labour issues. This was also the election of the executive committee and the chair and vice chair, I was successful at being elected to the executive committee of VIRL.

I went to the Seniors’ lunch at the Rollo center to help PHC with the kick off of the taxi saver program on Gabriola. This program is to help seniors with low incomes or with a disability to access the taxi service at a discount. If you need more information, talk with Brenda at PHC about your needs. 

Those are most of the highlights for January, unless you’re into budget numbers, and those you can get online at the RDN web site. 

One number you may be interested in is a likely tax increase of $9.60 per $100,000 of your house value. If your home is about $300,000 in value, your taxes to the RDN in 2015 were about $293 and in 2016 it goes up to $320. 

The taxes we pay to the RDN are the lowest in the RDN even with our increase in service.

So that was January

February was a lot of budget meetings to thrash out priorities and the new direction the RDN is going. 

What I mean by that is we are looking at how the RDN is dealing with everything from funding of the Nanaimo pollution control center to parks. This is not a core review but to know what our priorities are and how to make the RDN more cost effective.

The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) has a new head; John Hankins. I will be meeting with John soon to discuss what the NEDC can do for Area ‘B.’ 

Feb. 11 was the 5th annual gathering of the Moose Hide Campaign. The event was held in the traditional territory of the Lkwungen people. The attendees were from all over the province. If you are not familiar with the campaign it is a grassroots movement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men who are standing up against violence towards women and children. They do have a web site if you would like to know more.

The referendum for GERTIE was held and the majority who voted confirmed a new transit system for all of Area B users. 

I would like to thank everyone who voted, as it is important that we get out there and exercise our power to vote. The new transit team is taking the negative vote to heart and will be working hard to improve the service and make it an even bigger success.

Well, I had better move on as by the time you read this it will be the end of March and we will need to talk again. 

Howard Houle is the locally elected Director for Electoral Area B of the Regional District of Nanaimo, which includes Gabriola, Mudge and DeCourcy Islands.