Report on Gabriola community wellbeing coordinator heading to RDN board Feb. 28

A report on possible options for the Regional District of Nanaimo to hire a community wellbeing coordinator for Electoral Area B will come to the board soon with Gabriola’s director looking at gauging residents’ interest in creating a health and wellbeing service sometime later this year.

A motion by Vanessa Craig, Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy) director and RDN board chair, to deliver the report completed by a consultant in December regarding the feasibility of establishing a community health and wellbeing service as well as a staff report outlining implementation options unanimously passed at the Feb. 14 board meeting.

“Over the last year I’ve been working with the community who have indicated they are interested in having a wellbeing coordinator to help the many volunteer groups on the island address some of the outstanding issues and gaps,” Craig said. The consultant was hired following a motion by Craig in February 2022 that up to $68,000 of Area B feasibility study funds go toward a study on the “feasibility, cost and potential function of creating a community health and wellbeing planner position/contract for Electoral Area B.”

At the time of the approval of feasibility funds, RDN directors asked Craig how she envisioned such a position to be paid for, and whether it made sense for a small population to fund such a position. The exploration for an Area B-specific coordinator came a few months after the board of directors voted down exploring the creation of a regional social planning service as a followup to recommendations from the regional social needs assessment and strategy completed in 2021. Since then, in January 2023, the new board revisited that decision, voting 17 to 2 for a staff report on creating a social planning service in the RDN.

The consultant’s report for Area B and the accompanying staff report will be presented to the board on Feb. 28, staff confirmed.

“I would like to move toward having an [alternative approval process] this year to see whether or not the residents of Gabriola would like to indeed support this new service,” Craig said.

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