RDN directors nix proposed housing planner

·3 min read

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s 2022 provisional budget came in with a total tax requisition of $72.5 million, an 11.7 per cent increase from last year, though directors have already voted on budget reductions.

The increase is 4.3 per cent higher than it would have been if the 2021 tax increase had not been half of what was initially planned. Service levels last year were “not typical,” the provisional budget staff report says, hence the lower increase. As of this writing the provisional 2022 total requisition for Electoral Area B is $1,818,779, an increase of $163,456. Total taxes for an average home in Area B ($449,037), based on 2021 assessments, are provisionally set at $455, an increase of $36. Community parks, electoral area administration and recreation administration represent the largest increases.

During the Nov. 23 committee of the whole meeting, directors voted to remove a proposed housing planner position with a proposed salary of $105,736. Two directors, including Area B Director Vanessa Craig, voted against the removal. The new staff member would have been in charge of housing initiatives in the region including the development of a regional housing strategy planned for 2022. “With many federal and provincial funding programs available, the RDN does not have the capacity currently to promote, facilitate and partner on housing initiatives,” an appendix to the provisional budget says.

“Given the number of conversations we have at the table about having supportive housing and how we can facilitate some of these social issues,” such as recreation and transportation, “these are threads that are core issues that we continually address but have limited scope and staff to tackle,” Craig said before the vote.

Transfers to external organizations total over $15.2 million and include ongoing funding for recipients including Gabriola Arts Council, the Gabriola Community Bus Foundation for the operation of GERTIE, the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce, Gabriola Island Community Hall, Gabriola Museum & Archive Society, Gabriola Recreation Society and People for a Healthy Community for the taxi saver program.

Still in flux as the regional district awaits approval from the inspector of municipalities is the regional parks and trails service area conversion bylaw amendment, which would see allocation of acquisition and capital costs covered via a 50 per cent assessment and 50 per cent population conversion instead of a parcel tax. If approval is not received by the end of January, the change will come into effect in 2023.

At a previous committee of the whole meeting, staff salary increases for new positions indicated 12 per cent annual increases through 2026, which turned out to be a formula error; the 12 per cent increase only applies to 2023 due to an administration cost allocation policy.

A final review of the budget happens in February at which time 2022 property assessments, parcel counts, the latest Census data and external costs like the southern community recreation will be known. Budget discussions continued on Dec. 7.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting