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ANDREW FALL

Regional Director

REGIONAL DISTRICT NEWS:

Budget season nearing end-game: The bell rang on round 3 of 4 of the budget process in Jan. Details can be found in the Jan 11 Finance Committee agenda on the qRD website (qathet.ca).

The total tax requisition from Lasqueti is currently estimated to go from about $485,600 in 2022 to about $538,400 in 2023 (approx. 10.9%). This may go down a bit in the final budget as numbers from last year are finalized (in particular surpluses that roll over to reduce taxes for 2023). The main factor is inflation, which accounts for 6% or more. In addition, the main items with tax increases include:

(a)   Waste management: the Resource Recovery Centre (RRC) just north of Powell River is a complex (and expensive) project. The qRD has funded this with grants (received over $6 million so far, with other applications in process), but also with taxes and borrowing. But although the costs of the waste management service overall will increase quite a bit this year, the cost to Lasqueti is still much less than if we funded our local waste management on our own (like we did prior to a few years ago). The RRC is a very good project that cleaned up a contaminated site and, once operational, will help divert lots of recyclable/reusable waste. The qRD just put out a nice report on its history and current status, available on the qRD web site.

(b)     Library: library costs have gone up (also due mostly to inflation), but the cost to Lasqueti went up higher than average. This is because the contribution is based 50% on property values and 50% on population, and the recent Statistics Canada census recorded that our population went up by 25% over the last 5 years (real or not, this is much more than average). Fortunately, the library is the only service with contributions based on population.

(c)   LIVFD: the fire department service is our largest regional service. Lasqueti funds LIVFD entirely on its own (it’s a stand-alone service), and increasing requirements for training and equipment (as well as high inflation) led to increased costs in several items. The qRD has also been trying to save in the reserve fund for future major items in order to avoid/reduce borrowing (e.g. replacement fire engines and pumpers). The reserve at the end of 2022 is a bit over $272,000.

LIVFD Honourariums and Mental Health Supports: At its Jan meeting, the Board made public the following two supports for LIVFD (and other regional fire departments):

  • the Board directed staff to provide qRD fire department members with Mental Health support through the PATHS Program.

  • the Board retroactively extended honourariums to the start of 2022 for all members of LIVFD based on the number of personnel hours recorded at training and incidents at $12/hour.

 

This is good support from the qRD Board for all volunteer fire department members.

The letters that many Lasquetians sent on this topic helped the Board understand local sentiment. I have also heard from many directly (including many volunteers, past, present and potential future). As the decision was made in a closed meeting (since it related to personnel issues), I cannot provide details on the process, just the outcome.

The honourariums should hopefully help and honour our LIVFD volunteers for their contribution to our community well-being in 2022. The amount will be well within the amount budgeted for 2022. The roll-out of these honourariums will be done via the fire department, and according to LIVFD policies (i.e. outside my wheelhouse). Note for fire dep't members: honourariums are considered as taxable income by Revenue Canada (which is well outside qRD influence…).

Going forward, the process of developing a new comprehensive honourarium policy for all regional fire departments is ongoing. I will report on this in a future article.

Honourarium vs. Honorarium: what’s up with “u”?

Here is one definition that I like: “a payment made as a matter of honour and not because it is due as a legally enforceable debt” (i.e. given as an honour and in respect).

Or, perhaps you may prefer: “honourarium is a non-standard spelling of honorarium”.

Why do I persist with a non-standard spelling?

The Latin root of honour means respect or esteem, and the root of honourarium means conferred as an honour (i.e. honourary). However, in Roman times, an “honorarium” also meant a “bribe paid to get appointed to an honorary post” or a “voluntary contribution to the treasury made on being admitted to public office”. Not quite what we are looking for (and I ponder at the thought of me paying to have the honour of being your Regional Director … I’ll get back to you on that …).

In seriousness, I want to ensure that “honour” is included in the word and that the intended meaning is not lost (while staying consistent with Canadian spelling). The qRD seems to agree, and includes the “u” (although we never debated it…).

Thanks to Celia and Kathie for caring about language – words matter.

PS If we want to go full “eats, shoots and leaves”, then perhaps it should be “honouraria”…

I am honoured to be your regional representative.

Director Andrew Fall, qathet Regional District
Contact: Tel: 250-333-8595

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