UrbanSystemsCanada195 subscribers SUBSCRIBE Union Bay Improvement District Conversion Study In August and September 2019, UBID and the Province of BC exchanged correspondence that led to a Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) Board resolution to partner with UBID and the Province to undertake a study that would: – conduct a condition assessment of Union Bay Improvement District assets and liabilities; – analyze the governance options to remain as an improvement district or convert the street lighting, water supply and distribution and fire protection services to regional district services; and – develop and execute a communication plan that: – assesses public perspective on the topic of Union Bay governance and service delivery; and – informs the public on potential outcomes from the assessment and governance models Early in 2020 Urban Systems was selected to undertake the study work in partnership with the CVRD and UBID, which will include public engagement with property owners in Union Bay.
While the report is intended to provide a neutral analysis of the potential options, there a number of key summary observations outlined which may help the residents and elected officials of UBID and CVRD in making an informed decision.
• Regardless of the option the assets and liabilities will remain with the community ratepayers, either as an improvement district or regional district local service. For the latter, although all assets and liabilities would
transfer to the Comox Valley Regional District, they would remain with the specific local service established for
the Union Bay community for water, fire protection, and street lighting.
• Based on the available information and assumptions in the study, conversion to a Regional District local service is estimated to be cost neutral (with a potential small cost savings depending on labour costs). This is based on the CVRD support service costs of approximately 4 – 5% of expenditures for water and fire protection, with nominal
support service costs for street lighting.
• Conversion to a Regional District local service would mean the dissolution of the UBID Board of Trustees, but local representation would still be through the Electoral Area Director for Area “A”.
• Conversion to a Regional District local service would provide access to a larger pool of expertise (e.g. engineering, planning, finance and administration), access to senior government grants, and financing through Municipal Finance Authority (MFA).
• Conversion of the Fire Service would involve the provision of an annual operating grant from the CVRD to the Union Bay Volunteer Firefighters Association, who would then operate the fire services contract with the Regional
District, for administration, bookkeeping services, insurance and utilities, and volunteer firefighter remuneration. The Union Bay Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief would become employees of the CVRD.
• Although the analysis was based on the UBID 2020 budget, there will be additional costs under either option including additional operating costs for the new water treatment plant (commissioned in May 2020) and additional labour costs due to the new union collective agreement (currently under negotiation).
• Costs for watermain replacement could increase under the conversion option, due to the CVRD’s higher level of service for watermain repair. However, with either option it is recommended that additional asset management practices be incorporated into the organization, in order to support sustainable service delivery.