A Colwood-proposed service review of the Capital Regional District drew some support in Oak Bay.
While much of council was content to simply receive the letter, Coun. Hazel Braithwaite agreed with the questions presented by the West Shore community.
“Two recent announcements of diverting resources from existing functions to support new initiatives at the Capital Regional District has my council calling into question why we were paying into the existing functions if they no longer served a purpose, raising the question of a service review,” wrote Carol Hamilton, mayor of Colwood.
That community asked its staff to investigate the feasibility of initiating a CRD service review and that the information be circulated around the CRD.
“At this time we are advising all the local municipalities in the Capital Region of our intent to initiate a service review, which is intended to identify and generate discussion about any existing CRD service budgets that are, or appear to be, inactive and unnecessary,” Hamilton wrote.
Mayor Nils Jensen, Oak Bay’s representative to the CRD, said there is a service plan provided by each department each year – serving as an ongoing review.
“Those are worked on by the standing committees. Once they are completed at that stage they go to the board for approval and get incorporated into the budget,” Jensen said. “It’s a very efficient, stepped process.”
He noted that no issues were raised throughout that process and added the letter shares no specifics of concerns.
“I think the CRD does do great work in many things but I know in the past I have questioned some of the resources they’ve asked for when it does seem, as the letter suggests, diverting funding,” Braithwaite said. “It’s really important that we hold the CRD to the same level that we hold our own municipality. I would support giving Colwood our support in looking at this.”
Coun. Kevin Murdoch, the only other to oppose the motion to simply receive the letter, said the primary concern he would hold was cost of a service review, and what it would look like. He said the CRD and its provision of core services are “capable and confident.”
That said, things such as a recent transportation plan cost that indicated it would have no associated cost because people are free to do the job is a concern.
“That does resonate with me. There is a need to make sure there aren’t projects or departments that are there just because they were always there,” Murdoch said.
A review would offer comfort for the general public on due diligence and offer a look at what services Oak Bay wants the CRD to provide, he added. “We should support the idea in principal and request more information from them in terms of what they’re thinking about.”