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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Doug Routley is the chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act. (File photo)
Routley selected chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA acknowledges there will be a lot of material to process

Amanda Vance, executive director of the DDBIA, said the business organization will host a workshop for its members on how to deal with customers who refuse to wear masks. (File photo)
Workshop to help Duncan businesses deal with customers refusing to wear masks

DDBIA says businesses continue to deal with anti-maskers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read