Friday, July 16, 2010

Why do we have to have the CRD?

I keep coming across more and more reasons to dislike the the CRD but all of these reasons come down to one fundamental issue - the CRD is not elected and is not accountable to the public.   The CRD is an undemocratic body that has as much public legitimacy to make decisions in our lives as the federal Senate does.

The vast majority of the people who sit on the CRD board are not elected to be there by the public, they are chosen to be there by the councils they represent.   There are a couple that are elected from the unincorporated areas and these are the only people that have any popular mandate to govern.

When someone is elected by the citizens to represent them on council, they have to answer for what they do there when they come the polls again - we can vote them out.   On the CRD the board members do not represent any part of the electorate, but the municipality they are representing.   The electorate that chooses them is the council.   Some councils allow for some manner of public input into who would represent them at the CRD, but ultimately that decision is made by the council.

When someone is elected by the public, they have a fiduciary relationship with the public.  They have a responsibility to act in the best interests of the public they represent.  People that sit in the CRD board do not have this link but instead have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the council that appointed them.   A person from Oak Bay on the CRD board has to defend the interests of the Oak Bay council.    The way the regional district board is chosen means we can never have decent and holistic regional governance.

What right does Saanich have to make decisions about Sooke when no on was given a popular mandate to make decisions about issues outside of their own municipality?  

The CRD has a mass of staff that report to a board that is not elected by the public to make decisions or be accountable for their actions.   The CRD can pass bylaws that interfere with our lives even though we have no right to decide who makes those decisions.

There needs to be a provincial reform of the regional districts, but in the absence of that there are some specific steps that can be taken in this region to bring us responsible regional governance.

Do not have the CRD pass any bylaws beyond the absolute minimum that is needed to function.   Things like smoking bans, age limits on tanning booths etc... are examples of things that should be left to governments elected by the people, be that local, provincial or federal.

Get rid of anything the CRD does that does not need to be done by them.  Parks, they should either be municipal or provincial, water should be dealt with by the local governments that make use of it, recreation should be handled by the local governments,  environmental issues should left to the local governments, etc.....

Eventually move away from needing a regional district for anything by creating three municipal governments in the CRD and making each one of these take on the powers of a regional district.   Fort Nelson has done this and is the only location in BC where the whole regional district board is elected by the public.

The public in Canada has a right to elect who governs them, anything other than responsible government is undemocratic and needs to ended.
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