CODROY VALLEY – Like municipalities, local service districts (LSDs) and area development associations (ADAs) work hard to ensure their residents have access to necessary programs and services. However, without access to the same level of government funding as a municipality, it can prove to be a more difficult process.
Christopher Bruce is the Chair of the Codroy Valley Area Development Association (CVADA).
“In the past there used to be some standing government funding for ADAs, and I think the LSDs as well, but there's no operational funding anymore,” explained Bruce. “We have a little bit of income from building space we rent, and we rent to a repeating tower as well. Otherwise, it's just applying for grants for one off projects and jobs and lots of volunteer time.”
Bruce said the operational funding was taken away long before he became chair, but he is sure it has made it more difficult for the CVADA to get things done for the area and residents.
“Volunteers can work hard, but there are limits to how professional an organization can be without paid staff.”
Unlike a municipality, there is no set number of people on the board. The numbers can fluctuate, but the association does provide a number of services to the residents.
“Each community is entitled to two members from their community which makes up the board. The size of the board changes year to year depending on how many folks are interested at any given time,” explained Bruce. “ADAs can provide whatever services they feel the community needs. It seems like a lot of effort has gone into tourism and hiking previously.”
A recent comment was made on the CVADA Facebook page asking for more transparency with the public, something that Bruce believes is a justified request.
“As far as open governance goes, I know I speak for the board when I say we are all ready for a big change. We've been busy so far this summer; opening up communications among the board, using our subcommittee structure, keeping existing programs ongoing, and figuring out how to open ourselves up to the public. People are right to want more from every level of government, even the volunteer ones. But change starts at home, so hopefully we can be a model for change.”
Bruce said there are numerous changes he would also like to see.
“Records and communication are a big part of it. We've gone to a shared board email, so there is a nice record for everyone on board to see. The biggest part involves engaging the public directly, of course, and just changing the way we make our choices,” said Bruce. “It's just easy to waste a lot of time and money with closed doors and secrets. We demand a lot from our governments, and I think we should live up to that standard ourselves.”
Bruce can see a couple of ways how the association can become more accessible to residents.
“Modern technology helps us make data accessible. It's just part of what people expect, and it just seems sensible to run ourselves that way. Things like a website, quarterly public meetings, focused issue-based meetings, community project days; just moving where the work is done to give everyone a bit of peace of mind,” said Bruce. “Rural areas have problems that required tailored solutions. It can't just be cookie cutter policy that works in towns. We need to take a hard look at our own resources and needs and see how to take care of our communities ourselves. That being said, we aren't really a government, and no one wants to be a municipality. We just want to help.”
Bruce said there are advantages and disadvantages to being an area development association, but they will work their hardest to combat difficulties.
“I guess the big take away on the board this year is that it's younger and a little bit less experienced. That's an asset as much as a liability. We have lots of energy but lack some institutional knowledge. But we're in a great position to grow.”
Bruce said residents should keep their eyes out because a new website for the CVADA will be launching in the near future that will allow residents to access a lot more information quite easily.
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News