GERTIE and Gabriola chamber requests to be incorporated into 2023 budget

Regional District of Nanaimo budget decisions are beginning to shape up.

While each electoral area and municipality’s proposed tax requisition won’t be announced until the beginning of February, RDN directors reviewed the preliminary financial plan and made some funding decisions at the Jan. 17 committee of the whole meeting.

Going into the committee of the whole meeting, the total proposed tax requisition for the RDN was approximately $80.4 million. Total operating expenses were over $165 million and capital expenditures sat around $54 million. The requisition would be an 11.3 per cent increase from 2022, less than the 13 per cent projected increase from the 2022-26 financial plan.

Information still to be incorporated in the financial plan includes 2023 property assessments, 2022 actual financial results for the RDN as well as final parcel counts and final external costs for services including southern community recreation, Vancouver Island Regional Library and emergency 911.

At the meeting, Electoral Area B Director Vanessa Craig made motions that supported recent funding increase requests for both the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce and GERTIE’s operator, the Gabriola Community Bus Foundation. The RDN will requisition $3,900 from the southern community economic development service for the chamber bringing its total annual funding to $68,900.

The bus foundation will now receive $176,805 in 2023 plus an annual 2 per cent cost of living adjustment in subsequent years.

The electoral area services committee meets Feb. 9 at which time details on each electoral area’s requisition will be discussed further. Craig also deferred a decision on the Gabriola Historical and Museum Society’s funding agreement renewal to that meeting. The society has requested a $9,000 increase to its annual funding.

On Feb. 7, the regional parks and trails committee will review proposed parks staff changes.

A recommended five additional recreation program services positions include adding a second superintendent of recreation and parks program services of which 20 per cent of the $149,306 salary would come out of Gabriola’s recreation service. The position would also have responsibilities in other electoral areas. An increase in wages for recreation positions as well as as increases in professional fees for the Area B recreation and parks master plan and transfer to the Gabriola Recreation Society account for a proposed increase of $104,648 to the island’s recreation service.

The 2023 regional parks budget has a proposed increase of $719,418. That would include $428,013 in additional operating costs due to higher usage, a staff report says, and an increase of approximately $337,141 contribution to reserves to fund future capital costs including the Nanaimo River Morden Colliery Trail.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder