The Capital Regional District Board approved its budget without Oak Bay represented at the table.
A conflict of interest concern that raised its head last year, reappeared this year, to the dismay of Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.
“They’ve had more than a year to fix this problem and they have not done so. It’s as if they have little or no concern about the taxpayers in certain communities. This can easily be fixed, they’ve just not done so,” Jensen said. “It’s not fair and it’s not right.”
B.C. Court of Appeal decision on conflict of interest a few years ago tied the hands of many local politicians in smaller communities. The court found a pair of elected trustees were in conflict when they vote to approve grants to societies they were directors on, though they had no direct pecuniary interest.
“We’re not particularly unique, many community representatives are conflicted out of budget decisions throughout the region,” Jensen said, adding it’s not uncommon in local government across B.C.
“Legally I am the chair of the police board and as a result of that I’m required to sit on the Victoria Labour Relations Association; that creates the conflict,” he said.
Oak Bay’s alternate to the CRD is Coun. Kevin Murdoch, who serves as the Greater Victoria Public Library board chair. As a result of that position he’s also on the Labour Relations Association and conflicted out of budget discussions.
“This is the second year in the CRD budget cycle Oak Bay has not been able to have representation. The provincial government has an obligation to move to correct this,” Jensen said. “Essentially we have a situation where Oak Bay has CRD taxation without representation. It is undemocratic.”
The 2016 consolidated operating expenditure portion of the $263.1-million budget pays for a range of more than 200 CRD services and sub-services to over 378,000 people in the region.
The tax increase to Oak Bay translates to $10.59 for an average residential property.
Learn more about the budget online at crd.bc.ca.