Former politicians call-out CVRD on transparency issues

The Cowichan Valley Regional District's board of directors aren't transparent enough in their dealings with issues.

  • Oct. 17, 2011 11:00 a.m.
Former Town of Lake Cowichan mayor Jack Peake speaks on behalf of a delegation of former CVRD area directors during the CVRD’s Wednesday

Former Town of Lake Cowichan mayor Jack Peake speaks on behalf of a delegation of former CVRD area directors during the CVRD’s Wednesday

The Cowichan Valley Regional District’s board of directors aren’t transparent enough in their dealings with issues.

This is the crux of the argument made by a delegation of six former directors, during the board’s Wednesday, October 12, Regular Board Meeting.

“In order for the regional system to function in a consistently productive and fair manner, the style and structure of the regional district must be appropriate,” former Town of Lake Cowichan and CVRD board member Jack Peake told the board. “This current does not appear to be the case. The current organizational model does not allow for a comfortable interplay between the board and senior management. The division of roles are too rigid and regimented. The net result has been that an increasing number of residents are confused, frustrated, alienated and angered with some of the major projects and issues before the board.”

Peake spoke on behalf of himself, former Youbou/Meade Creek area director Brooke Hodson, former Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls area director Joe Allan, former Mill Bay area director Anne Bomford, former Cobble Hill are director Richard Hughes, and former Cowichan Bay area director Mike Tansley. All six directors helped draft the delegation’s statement.

“The current management system is not responsive to the needs or the expectations of the residents of our valley,” Peake concluded. “We believe it’s time to re-examine the management structure in place and we respectfully request that the new incoming board of directors implement an immediate independent public review of the current management structure of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.”

Following the presentation, CVRD chair Gerry Giles was quick to point out the CVRD’s 2011 Ipsos Reid poll, which gathered information through surveys throughout the regional district. It has been criticized by some, as the entire Cowichan Lake area only had 19 surveys completed.

“There is a fairly high level of satisfaction with the role the regional district is playing,” Giles said, citing the poll results.

One of the poll results Giles could have been referencing is 80 per cent of respondents feeling they receive very good value for their municipal tax dollars.

“I would like to just inform you that the board has already undertaken a review of the current corporate structure,” Giles said. “We believe, as a board, that within that three year period was enough time to settle.”

A few months ago, the board decided to undergo an independent review to find out if the current structure is functioning appropriately.

“I would suggest, then, that our comments are timely,” Peake responded.

Later on in the meeting, the CVRD board went over an update on the 2011 Corporate Strategic Plan Progress Report, which outlines all the projects the regional district is undertaking, and at what stage all of the projects are at.

It’s a shame the delegation didn’t stay to hear the report, Giles said;

“That could have answered all their questions, rather than come in and grandstand,” Shawnigan Lake area director Ken Cossey said.

Following the meeting, former Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls area director Joe Allan said that these things aren’t sufficient, and that those board members that spoke up must not have understood the delegation’s point.

“We didn’t want to get into an argument, so we made our comments,” he said. “If you aren’t part of their mode of thinking, there’s confrontation.”

Although he’s read the Ipsos Reid Poll, its existence doesn’t solve the problem at the CVRD, Allan said.

“You don’t have public interplay,” he said, of the CVRD board chambers. “It’s that attitude that’s pervasive down there… You have to see your elected officials debate on these things.”

With a structural switch-over about three years ago, the regional district changed; new structure, new administration, many new directors.

The group of six directors began meeting about a year ago to discuss the structural problems at the regional district.

This meeting sparked further get-togethers, with the group eventually developing the statement they provided to the regional district, last week.

The timing, Allan said, is close enough to the election that it will help provide the new board with some direction, but not close enough to the election that it becomes a political issue; something they tried to a void by making their statement as general as possible, without citing specific directors for wrong-doings.