Columbia Shuswap Regional District Chief Administrative Officer John MacLean joined the CSRD in early November 2022 and has been familiarizing himself with staff and services in the huge regional district.
The regional district has a land area of 28,885.82 square kilometres and Statistics Canada’s 2021 census of population revealed the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District had a population of 57,021, an increase of 11 per cent from the 2016 census.
Similar to counties in other parts of Canada, regional districts provide municipal services as the local government in areas not incorporated into a municipality, and in certain regional affairs of shared concern between residents of unincorporated areas and those in the municipalities such as a stakeholder role in regional planning.
In those predominantly rural areas, regional districts provide services such as land use planning, building inspection, solid-waste management and fire protection.
At the April 20 board of directors meeting in Simon Arm, MacLean presented his first quarterly report for the period ending March 31.
In offering the report, MacLean said it was impossible for the board to know everything that is going on something that in many cases is not necessary or desirable. But, he pointed out that an understanding of the day-to-day and week-to-week work that he and staff do is helpful.
“It is not the intention of this report to be extensive or detailed,” he said. “I will let the board know, in general, what I am planning to be working on soon and the issues that I may be concerned about and am keeping an eye on.”
MacLean has been familiarizing himself with services the regional district provides, communities and staff, orientation on CSRD board practices and policies, and participation in the development of the five-year financial plan. As well, he has been meeting with directors in order to get their input on various issues such as a code of conduct, cultural awareness training, respect in the workplace and media and social media awareness.
Also noted in his report is time spent getting up to speed on the Rail Trail and engaging with various services CSRD provides and First Nation engagement, among others.
MacLean iterated the number of meetings he has attended and listed the many upcoming meetings and conferences he will be attending in the weeks ahead.
In terms of what he is keeping his eye on, he noted the effect of weather would play in the 2023 freshet, the potential impact to the region of the Emergency Modernization Act and housing.
“There is an incredible amount of attention being placed on housing availability and affordability,” he noted. “What is the role of the CSRD in facilitating and regulating in this area?”
Directors at the meeting zeroed in on the subject of a code of conduct and respect in the workplace.
Electoral Area C director Marty Gibbons asked that an outside entity be considered on developing the code of conduct.
“Having a policy is fine but if it’s not put in place it’s no good,” he said.
MacLean replied that he is committed to doing it in-house but will take the suggestion under advisement.
Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin wanted training to include the issue of harassment and where staff could take their concerns.
“We need to give employees the ability and confidence to come forward without the hammer coming down on them,” she said.
Following the meeting, Area A director Karen Cathcart called CSRD a large organization that requires a lot of work and effort.
“He’s very open and he has really taken time to meet with CAOs across CSRD,” she says. “It’s all about building relationships. The other stuff? That’s why you hire good staff.
Due to winter weather and road closures, MacLean has not yet travelled to Golden, says Mayor Ron Oszust, but the meeting will be re-scheduled.