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Greater Victoria, BC News


Date ArticleType
5/1/2014 Published Article
Regional Growing Pains

In a region with 13 municipalities that border each other, sometimes our governance models do not promote processes or planning that enhance the region as a whole. In 2003, in an attempt to enhance governance, the Community Charter was updated to make changes to local government legislation in three key areas: municipal-provincial relations, broad powers, and accountability. However, the Local Government Act, the legislation that governs regional districts, was not updated to rectify some glaring gaps in the legislation. The antiquated legislation that regional districts currently work under give them no authority in which to perform or provide services. This gap in responsibility and authority between municipalities and regional districts leaves an opening for shifting accountability.

These issues tend to come to the surface with projects that are regional in nature. Transportation is a prime example where multiple jurisdictions and governance are responsible for transportation planning and implementation. Transportation is considered a regional issue, yet many decisions are based on the individual needs and priorities of local municipalities.

An additional example is the Capital Regional District (CRD) sewage treatment plant that highlights this dysfunction and exposes the deficiency in our regional governance structures. With no authorization for land use, the CRD is reliant on municipal governments to be able to fulfil its mandate. Today, this has left us at a crossroads on where exactly to build the sewage treatment facility, if at all. The Capital Regional District has the mandate to provide the services but no way to do so.

Failure to provide a cohesive transportation plan has an impact but no regulatory stick. Whereas, failure to comply with federal regulations requiring sewage treatment brings additional questions and concerns with little clarification on who might be responsible for impending fines. The CRD, on behalf of the region, is required to build a sewage treatment facility but does not have the authority to actually build it. Can the CRD be ultimately held responsible for any fines imposed by the federal government?

It is clear that our regional government structure is broken and needs to be fixed; which will not likely be a quick or easy task. In the meantime, we need to figure out a way to collaborate on regional projects. With costs likely to rise, we need to quickly find a solution to a problem created by our flawed governance system.

Bruce Carter
CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce 
Business Examiner - May 2014


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