Improving awareness of the Capital Regional District’s various roles and responsibilities is probably one of the biggest challenges ahead, says its new chief administrative officer.
“[That includes] the number of services we’re involved in; why we’re providing that service; how it’s been agreed on and why there’s a shared interest,” said CAO Bob Lapham, the former general manager of planning and protective services. “The services we’re involved in have been agreed to, and we’re in them because they are either more efficiently delivered that way or we’ve been asked to participate and deliver that service.”
Years of distrust and animosity toward the CRD — particularly in some parts of the West Shore — seem to have given way to the notion that there are some issues that are better dealt with regionally.
“Because of the growth that’s occurred over the last 10 or 15 years, there’s a much more common awareness that you have to have a common system of road connections or trail connections — the obvious ones,” Lapham said.
“That’s extended into other things that we do, where you’re getting into shared cost of infrastructure or even recreation service delivery.”
As chief administrative officer, Lapham is responsible for the CRD’s more than 200 regional, sub-regional and local services and agreements, including: regional planning, water supply, waste management and disposal, resource recovery, environmental protection, regional parks and recreation facilities, housing, protective services and emergency response.
The CRD’s major capital project is a $783-million secondary sewage treatment plant, the cost of which is being shared with the federal and provincial governments.
Transportation is also emerging as a priority.
A committee is working on how to get agreement on what the region’s role should be in transportation, he said, and ensuring “we’re able to make the best argument for investments and cost sharing by the federal and provincial governments on major improvements.”
Lapham had been manager of planning and protective services since 2006. Prior to working at the CRD, he held a number of positions with the Regional District of Nanaimo.
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