The inclusion of Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) as a participant in the funding of the District 69 aquatic services was given third reading by the Regional District of Nanaimo board.
The decision was reached at the regular board meeting, Jan. 11 after another long debate.
The RDN will now send the approved District 69 swimming pool service amendment bylaw to the Inspector of Municipalities for endorsement.
Area E has not contributed funds to the Ravensong Aquatic Centre since it was built in 1995. Other electoral areas in District 69 deemed the current situation to be unfair and unequitable and it prompted the process to get Area E on board.
Lawyer Don Lidstone of Lidstone and Company was invited to attend the board meeting and he discussed the various processes under the Local Government Act that allows the RDN to make an amendment to the aquatic service bylaw.
Area E director Bob Rogers argued his constituents have not had the opportunity to indicate if they favour paying into the service. He made a motion asking that residents be given the chance to vote.
“I have heard over the last several months the word ‘equity,’” said Rogers. “In my mind, equity starts when you have an equitable opportunity to vote and provide electoral approval for inclusion within a service. Equity has not occurred from the beginning on this.”
Rogers said since the Ravensong pool was constructed, Area E directors over time were never allowed to give their input on any matter related to the aquatic services. He cited as an example the recent board’s decision to approve the $20-million Ravensong Pool expansion, to which he was not allowed to speak.
However, majority of the board voted against the motion and proceeded to approve the recommendation to make Area E residents pay for the service.
“I take offence to the comment that Area E wasn’t given a chance to speak on this,” said Ed Mayne, City of Parksville director.
Mayne said from the start it was Area E that decided not to participate when the bylaw for the Ravensong Aquatic Centre was first enacted as well as the loan bylaw to pay for the construction.
“To say that they never had the representation, it was their choice not to have the representation during that period of time,” said Mayne.
The inclusion of Area E now, said Mayne, is a new beginning because residents don’t have to pay for the loan that was made to construct the pool.
“Funding is not on the table anymore because funding has been paid for a long time ago so that’s not part of it,” said Mayne. “It’s just a matter of participating from here forward.”
Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) director Leanne Salter indicated she was in favour of giving Area E residents the chance to vote on the matter. She felt the area is being “silenced” by not being allowed to have a say in the matter.