CVRD considers new ways to engage the public during annual budget-building process. (File photo)

CVRD looks for ways to engage public in budget process

Public participation has been low in recent years

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is considering new approaches to gather public input during the annual budget-building process.

A staff report, prepared by communications and engagement manager Kris Schumacher, said that town-hall meetings held in previous years were mostly sparsely attended, as were public meetings held last year by each of the district’s eight commissions and committees to gather input into their specific budgets.

Schumacher said other local governments have attempted to engage residents with the use of online budgeting tools, as North Cowichan did with the Citizen Budget platform around its 2018 budget.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN LOOKING FOR MORE PUBLIC INPUT

“Despite heavy public promotion of the tool, North Cowichan only received 213 participants, which represents just 0.9 per cent of residents,” he said in the report.

Schumacher pointed out that the CVRD operates 180 services, each with its own budget and myriad of operational and financial considerations.

“It is distinctly different from a municipality in that almost every one of its functions requires a voter-assented service with its own tax requisition,” he said.

“This is one of many reasons why it is difficult for the general public to understand the CVRD budget and provide informed input to assist the board in their decision-making process.”

RELATED STORY: CVRD SETS TAX INCREASE FOR 2019 AT 7.29 PER CENT

Considering the struggle to engage with the public during the annual budget-building process and solicit feedback, Schumacher said staff propose consideration of a number of new approaches.

One is to seek the public feedback much earlier in the 2020 budget process which would allow the public more time to become informed of budgetary changes and challenges to be addressed.

As well, Schumacher said tools like PlaceSpeak and the CVRD website can and have been used effectively to inform the public and collect feedback on a range of topics, so effort could be spent to make the 2020 budget even easier to navigate and interpret for residents from the comfort of their own homes, and on their own time.

“Reducing the number of public meetings would save resources and potentially see better attendance at the meetings that were held,” he said.

“This approach could include multiple meetings, but scheduled throughout the budget process rather than clustered together at one stage in the process.”

Schumacher said hosting public meetings to review only certain services, or groupings of services, like recreation and solid waste, may also see greater public participation.

“Consideration of the budget in its entirety can be seen as unwieldy for many, and some residents may be more willing to engage on topics that they feel strongly about or have a deeper knowledge of,” he said.

The CVRD’s corporate services committee asked Schumacher at its meeting on June 12 to summarize the options and bring back a report outlining them with the associated costs.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Province steps up with $250,000 for new Clements Centre facility in South Cowichan

New building will replace aging, smaller one in Valley’s south end

Editorial: Drivers who blow school bus stop signs need reality check

There cannot possibly be anything so important that it’s worth a dead or seriously injured child.

Coming up in Cowichan: Family fun at an arena near you; live Nativity and more

Free Christmas Family Skate at Kerry Park Sunday There will be a… Continue reading

Lake Flashback: December Madness hits the lake, Joe Allen named chair, golf club needs buyer

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: A masterclass on H&M knitwear

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

B.C. Crown corporation immune from taxation, but still might have to pay GST: Court

British Columbia Investment Management Corporation may still be on hook for GPS payments

‘He was good for the West:’ Sadness, surprise in Saskatchewan over Scheer

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his predecessor, Brad Wall, both thanked Andrew Scheer

Poll suggests travellers know little about air-passenger rights

The first set of passenger-rights rules landed in mid-July and the rest this weekend

Johnson claims Brexit mandate with new conservative majority

Conservative Party wins 365 seats in the House of Commons

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Most Read