Regional district makes plans for 2016

Chair Grace McGregor is eager to start things up in the new year, beginning with a streamlined timetable.

Grace McGregor

by Sheri Regainer, Trail Times

Nothing is rubber stamped and all 13 directors are tuned into regional district business, says Grace McGregor.

“We’ve been working hard on becoming a unified board and I believe we have that,” said McGregor, director for Area C/Christina Lake. “People are reading their agendas, paying attention and asking questions,” she added. “I think those conversations are what make the board even better.”

Now entering her third year as chair of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) board, McGregor is eager to start things up in the new year, beginning with a streamlined timetable.

“What we’ve been working on is stacking meetings, piggy-backing if you will, and simplifying it a bit,” she explained. “So people aren’t on the road all the time.”

There are currently 19 committees, not including select committees, and winter travel can be especially cumbersome between Grand Forks and Trail.

Beginning January, Committee of the Whole days are planned, meaning two or three committee meetings scheduled over the course of one day instead of three separate days.

“We are giving that a try and hoping it will work,” said McGregor. “Because it will free up time for elected officials to spend more time in their respective communities, and take on other portfolios they’ve wanted to do, but haven’t had the time to do.”

Another trial starting in the new year could keep agenda matters moving along during the winter months despite the weather.

Broadband Internet service was upgraded in the Grand Forks location this month, allowing for telecommunication in future situations when driving conditions are poor.

“I would like to make this clear that we are not looking at video conferencing to take over board meetings or face-to-face meetings,” McGregor clarified. “We are looking at video conferencing for committees when weather is bad or things prevent us from getting together,” she said. “Or, if someone wants to do a board presentation, it’s not always convenient for people to come to our little world…we can still do the work without putting it on the back burner, and sometimes that information is what provides good understanding and good decision making.”

Another undertaking launching in the new year is an overall review of the organization that is meant to help improve both governance and administration.

“I think, quite frankly, our people at the regional district are very, very busy,” she said. “We may find out, they are too busy.”

The goal is to identify which operations are working efficiently as well as areas that require improvement.

“I think people get lost in the ideas of cutbacks and they forget communication and good service is also the primary goal,” McGregor continued. “If you can cutback and not lose service then fine—if you can’t, then you need to find a different way,” she added. “If you really care about people getting the right information, sometimes it just costs more, period.

“So this is something I am going to find very interesting and I think, people are going to be a little surprised.”