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qathet Regional District to consider volunteerism on regional district property

Staff directed to look into cemetery cleanup request
GIVE CONSIDERATION: qathet Regional District directors voted for a report from staff to examine a request from the Rotary Club of Powell River to clean up around grave markers in Powell River Regional Cemetery.

qathet Regional District have directed staff to explore the potential of allowing the Rotary Club of Powell River to organize a cemetery grave markers work party.

At the July 29 regional board meeting, directors considered the request that came from club representative Joyce Carlson at the July 15 committee of the whole meeting. Carlson said Rotarians could clean up some of the markers and clip the grass away as a community service project.

At the regional board meeting, Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said she wanted to change a word in the original recommendation that was before the board. The original recommendation read that the board direct staff to explore the hazards of allowing Rotarians to organize the work party. She said she wanted to remove the word hazards and insert the word potential.

“Exploring hazards is not something we really want to do,” said McCormick. “The discussion at committee of the whole was that there is a need to have a policy regarding volunteers doing services on regional district property. We have people who want to volunteer to clean up Shelter Point Park but they can’t do it because of insurance, yet we cover insurance for trail cleanups and we provide funding for that as well. There’s a lot of inconsistency.”

McCormick said the regional district did not have a policy regarding volunteerism on regional district property and she believes there should be one.

“Exploring the potential rather than the hazards will open the door to creating such a policy,” said McCormick. “It’s a more positive way to go. It’s certainly more in keeping with our strategic plan, being open and transparent, consultative and inclusive. Exploring hazards is not something I want to do.”

Board chair and Electoral Area A director Patrick Brabazon said McCormick was not the only one to find the word hazards jarring.

“I don’t think the delegation saw themselves as a hazard,” said Brabazon.

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said he shared McCormick’s concerns. He said the regional board should be looking at opportunities and options. He said in addition to the request from Rotary, the regional board could consider getting rid of the reference to the club in the motion and insert the word volunteers.

“This would give staff the clear direction that we want to find out about volunteers in all of our parks and our cemetery,” said Gisborne.

He proposed an amendment to the motion to replace Rotary Club of Powell River with volunteers to contribute to parks and the cemetery. City director CaroleAnn Leishman called a point of order, saying there was a piece of correspondence attached to the item that was specific to a cemetery grave markers work party, so she thought Gisborne’s motion was an entirely new one.

Brabazon said it was sufficiently murky that he was going to call for a vote among the directors to determine if the amendment was out of order. The board voted the amendment out of order.

Gisborne said he was serving notice of motion for the committee of the whole, where he would bring a more broad motion before the assembly. He said City of Nanaimo has a volunteers in a parks program, so he is looking at expanding what could be done in qathet Regional District.

The board voted in favour of a staff report regarding the Rotary club’s request.