The new chairman of the Regional District of Nanaimo board is a representative of the City of Nanaimo.
Ian Thorpe was elected chairman of the RDN board on Tuesday night at the new board’s inaugural meeting.
Thorpe said he was aware that Rogers would be nominated and had a prior discussion to ensure that both would be OK with the other running.
“I was very pleased at the result, but I certainly wasn’t necessarily expecting it,” said Thorpe. “Director Rogers has been on the board as long as I have and brings a lot of experience as well.”
Thorpe and Rogers are two of only four returning members of the last RDN board of directors, a 19-member body; Thorpe was the vice-chairman of the previous board.
He said the first priority is getting directors familiar with one another.
“The first thing is for the board to get to know each other and to see what our priorities individually are and what we bring to the table as an individual and then see how we can transform those individual priorities into board strategic plan priorities,” Thorpe said. “So the first step for me is melding as a group and then looking at our governance model and making sure that we’re going to be able to move meetings forward in an orderly and respectful way and make progress on the issues people want to see us address.”
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At Tuesday’s meeting, Thorpe said it wouldn’t be a Nanaimo voting bloc on the board, something he reiterated afterward.
“It’s unfortunate that there has been a perception that Nanaimo can rule the RDN and in fact, we don’t. We don’t have that power, although we do have eight votes,” he said. “In past practice, the chair of the RDN has always been an area director. For some reason there was fear that having a Nanaimo chair would sway the meeting in favour of Nanaimo. I don’t think that’s at all true, in fact I see the role of the chair as to be a neutral arbiter of discussion, so if anything it almost takes a vote away from Nanaimo.”
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog echoed Thorpe’s sentiments.
“Nanaimo has always had the votes and so the fact that a councillor from Nanaimo is the chair, I don’t think is going to make any difference,” said Krog. “I think Nanaimo has always striven to be respectful of the needs of the regional district and I’m hopeful that it will simply promote a better era of co-operation amongst the various board members.
“The reality is, I don’t think Ian would have won if he didn’t have the support of the regional directors individually.”
Bill Veenhof, who was the chairman of the previous RDN board, was not re-elected in Area H (Shaw Hill, Deep Bay, Bowser).