RDN financial plan details include changes to 34 staff positions

Before the Regional District of Nanaimo’s preliminary financial plan is presented at the committee of the whole on Jan. 17, the board of directors received a report on staffing recommendations, new service levels and $500,000-plus capital projects at their December meeting.

Changes to 34 positions, equating to 32.5 full-time equivalents, are recommended in 2023, including the addition of 28 full-time positions some of which are conversions from casual or temporary to permanent.

New positions include a special projects coordinator to support the automated curbside collection program. The position would help address increased customer service demands the program currently experiences, a staff report notes. The $91,000 salaried position “is critical in deploying the next phase of public education, aimed at achieving higher levels of curbside diversion and decreased contamination of the recycling streams,” the report says. Also under the solid waste department, a new zero waste compliance officer is requested to help implement the waste hauler licensing and mandatory waste source separation bylaws currently awaiting approval from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

An operations coordinator responsible for fire risk management plans and fuel management prescriptions for regional and community parks as well as overseeing invasive species management and volunteer stewardship was approved as a temporary pilot position in 2021. Staff are now recommending the position becomes permanent in 2023. Without the position, the RDN would need to use consultants, which could be less effective and more costly, the staff report says. Other proposed new positions for recreation and parks include a building service worker for recreation facilities, a business administrator and a second superintendent of recreation program services.

The projected annual cost of the 34 positions is $3.4 million with a projected tax impact of $2.6 million. The projected tax impact represents 5.5 per cent of the total 2022 RDN budgeted wages and benefits.

A total of 17 new capital projects with budgets over $500,000 are proposed to begin in 2023 in addition to projects that will continue into the new budget year.

New projects planned to begin include the Coats Marsh Regional Park weir replacement. The board has previously approved a budget of $414,100 for the project, $56,240 of which was used in 2022 to complete an assessment of the current weir. The assessment estimates a cost of $950,000 to design and construct a new weir, meaning the board will need to approve an additional $597,161 in 2023. The project budget includes $950,000 from reserves plus a 2023 district-wide tax implication of $5,021.

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