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

Aaron Stone, chairman of the Island Coastal Economic Trust, said ICET’s contribution of $250,000 towards the expansion plans at Shawnigan Lake Museum will help diversify and broaden the community’s reputation as a cultural and heritage draw. (File photo)
Shawnigan Lake Museum’s expansion plans gets financial boost

ICET contributes $250,000 towards $1.8-million project

Police looking for witnesses to robbery. (File photo)
RCMP looking for witnesses to Duncan robbery

Incident took place in Duncan on Oct. 30

North Cowichan council (pictured) held it’s first virtual council meeting back in April. Lake Cowichan council is following suit and will be posting their meetings on YouTube as well. (Screenshot)
Lake Cowichan going online with council meetings

For some, it’ll be the perfect background noise for deep sleep induction,… Continue reading

Stock photo
Late goal gives Fury edge over Quw’utsun

Local battle only game possible under sports travel ban

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lake Cowichan’s town hall is now locked. Members of the public can only enter by knocking or by phoning and making an appointment. (File photo)
$1.16-million in COVID cash granted to Lake Cowichan

Pandemic protocol locks town hall doors

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

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

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

The opening day on Mount Washington this year was Dec. 4. Screenshot
Mount Washington opens on time, COVID-19 protocols in place

“We’re super excited - it’s been six months in the planning.”

Most Read