There should be a cap on the amount spent on a public communications strategy related to the proposed Eco-Depot.
This is the message Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls area director Ian Morrison brought to the Cowichan Valley Regional District board, during their Wednesday, October 12 regular meeting.
“I question why we don’t have a cost to this – an up-to-date number,” he told the board, after having heard that the cost could be $50,000; an amount covering just public relations costs, such as advertising and consulting.
“Hearing that it’s $50,000, it shook me rigid,” he said. “We have to protect the taxpayers’ interests… We have to show financial responsibility.”
The Eco Depot Community Recycling Centre has been proposed for Cameron Taggart Road in South Cowichan.
It has proven itself a controversial topic, therefore a non-legally binding referendum vote will take place November 19, with residents in three electoral areas eligible to vote, including those in Mill Bay/Malahat, Cobble Hill, and Shawnigan Lake.
Morrison cited a comparable such campaign that took place a few years ago at Cowichan Lake, for the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena referendum question.
This public relations campaign also covered three electoral areas; Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls, Youbou/Meade Creek, and the Town of Lake Cowichan. Its cost was about $13,000.
Even the Regional Parkland Acquisition public relations campaign, which encompassed the entire regional district, cost less, at $47,000, than the proposed $50,000 cost to the Eco Depot campaign.
Morrison then motioned that the public relations campaign cost no more than $20,000. He then sat back and allowed his fellow directors time to discuss the motion.
Most of the directors were not aware of the $50,000 figure.
“It does seem a little high… $50,000 seems high,” North Oyster/Diamond area director Mary Marcotte said.
“It seems like we made an error in not explaining it more thoroughly,” Saltair/Gulf Islands area director Mel Dorey said.
CVRD chair Gerry Giles said that with 3/4 of the board not knowing what is going on, looking at a motion while blind-sided will not be effective.
“So, it’s an awkward communication all the way along,” she said.
“We don’t have enough information,” District of North Cowichan area director Tom Walker said. “I’m concerned that if we didn’t make the right decision then, I don’t think we’ll get the right decision now.”
“Now we’re back-tracking with the amount we’ve done,” Giles said.
The board resolved to carry the motion to a special meeting, called Tuesday, October 18, at 7:30 p.m., following the Electoral Area Services Committee Meeting.
This, the board hopes, will enable everyone enough time to become up to date on the issue.