Queen Charlotte has moved one step towards incorporating as a village, following a meeting Wednesday night.
More than 50 people filled the Eric Ross room to overflowing to hear a representative of the province outline the process necessary to incorporate.
Cathy Watson from the Ministry of Community Services outlined the process required by Victoria. It entails a local committee of no less than10, no more than 15 members be formed to request an incorporation study, getting Victoria’s approval and funding ($40,000), developing terms of reference for the study, hiring a consultant approved by the ministry, public discussion of the issue and then, if recommended by the volunteer committee, a referendum on incorporation.
“What I am going to go back to Victoria and say is that I think the community is definitely ready to set up a committeeÂ… so the community will set up a committee and that committee will communicate with the ministry, and at that point in time if they are still interested in a study, it will definitely go to the minister,” said Cathy Watson of the Ministry of Community Services.
“I am not in favour of a study. I am not in favour of hiring a consultant, I think it is essentially a waste of money” said Keith Moore, who participated in a previous failed incorporation attempt. Mr. Moore said most questions that come up involve ‘what’s the deal?’ and getting the best offer on restructuring from the province as fast as possible is more important than a study.
Once incorporated, a village is responsible for maintaining its own roads, for example, something the province now pays for, and something that could be costly in a spread-out community like Queen Charlotte with lots of roads and only 1,045 people. The province is likely willing to pay for road maintenance for five years after incorporation, but it’s possible Queen Charlotte could negotiate a longer period. It’s items such as this that are included in the ‘deal’ mentioned by Mr. Moore.
“Bringing in someone from the outside is contrary to just about what everybody here thinks,” said Clyde Greenough, a former chair of QC/SLAPC, the management committee’s precursor. “I think you can do a better job without a consultant.”
“Can we make sure the consultant is local?” Barb Rowsell asked, while Mike Hennigan suggested hiring local high school students to look into the issue, saying they usually give you the ‘straight skinny’. Ministry rep Cathy Watson said the consultant had to be picked from a list approved by the ministry, and that while it includes no local consultants, several of those approved are experienced with communities on islands.
There was some discussion about the area that will be included, should the community incorporate. Lindsey Doerksen of Skidegate Landing was hopeful that residents there could themselves decide if they want to be included or not, something that will be decided by the volunteer committee once it forms However, it’s likely Skidegate Landing will be in, given that it currently is included in the regional district’s ‘Area F’.
“Could we try (incorporation) for a year and then go back?,” Reine Pineault asked. The answer from the ministry was ‘either you are in or you are out’, and that it would be too expensive to set up an incorporated village, then dismantle it within a short period.
In the end, a show of hands was held to determine if a local volunteer committee ought to be formed, and the vote went about 30 for, 3 against. A list of criteria was then developed to ensure that this committee will represent the community, and turned over to the management committee to get the new committee up and running. A commitment was also made that all the meetings of this group would be public, well advertised and questions and discussion from the public will be permitted.
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