As promised, this week I am going to focus in on one of the organizations that belongs to the sector I introduced you to last week. We’re going to take a closer look at the Capital Regional District (CRD) which I included in Victoria’s government sector (which is numerically – if you include the Department of Defence [DND] – Victoria’s biggest employer). The CRD’s own statistics say that in 2011 just over 1,000 people worked for the organization split about 70/30 in terms of full time/part time employment respectively.
The CRD is the “regional government for the 13 municipalities and three electoral areas that are located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island”. The CRD was formed in 1966 and thus is a fairly young organization in comparison to some of the municipalities, such as Oak Bay (incorporated as the ‘District of Oak Bay’ in 1906) and Victoria (incorporated as a city in 1862). Regional government organizations like the CRD are formed when “a number of local governments join together as partners so that they can benefit from economies of scale and eliminate duplication of effort on a region-wide perspective”.
Probably the most contentious issues that the CRD has had on its plate within the past decade are the sewage issue and the introduction of various smoking bylaws. A bit of background on the former – since 1894 (according to the Victoria Sewage Alliance website) Victoria has been dumping its sewage, without treating it any way other than, in the 1970s, introducing screening to remove any “solid objects larger than a thumbtack”, into the ocean off Clover and Macaulay Points. For at least 15 years a battle has been going on about whether or not this outfall is harming the aquatic environment and its inhabitants. and whether the CRD and the municipalities should build sewage treatment plants. If the answer to the latter question is yes, then the next argument will be over where said plants should be located (not surprisingly nobody wants them on their territory!) and how the massive projected cost should be met.
The second issue – smoking bylaws – is pretty innocuous in comparison although the odd dispute has come up regarding allowing smoking for residents of extended care facilities. In 2007 the CRD imposed a smoking ban on outdoor patios – basically all drinking and dining establishments are now completely non-smoking in the Capital Regional District and I must admit as a non-smoker who used to avoid bars because of the eye-stinging and stinky atmosphere within I love this ruling. I see the latest is that the CRD in March is being urged by some councillors to consider a smoking ban in playgrounds.
It is my impression, and I could be wrong, that the CRD generally has a pretty low profile in the eyes of most Victorians. I don’t think this is an accurate reflection of its level of activity and involvement with the municipalities and electoral areas within its boundaries. A quick Google search reveals many programs and initiatives that the CRD is part of including a pedestrian and cycling master plan and the Happiness Index Partnership – and these are just two of a diverse range of projects and activities.
As an employer I think the CRD probably pays well above average. Certainly I am always impressed by the wages that they offer in the job postings I review and put up on the fresh sheet. They frequently have jobs that would be excellent for students that also pay well – for example there is currently a Planning Research Assistant position open that pays $26.21 per hour which compares very favourably to a co-op job with the Provincial Government for a ‘Level 2 Co-op’ position which pays a maximum of $22.34 per hour.
The CRD is governed by a board that, not surprisingly, is chaired by and comprised of councillors, mayors and other elected representatives from the 13 municipalities and 3 electoral districts that fall within the CRD’s boundaries. You can learn more about how the CRD is organized by investigating its org chart and the long, long list of special committees and commissions.
If you’d like to learn more about the CRD in an informal way consider attending one of the monthly Resilient Region breakfasts which the CRD sponsors. As well as a free nosh you’ll get the chance to meet at least one CRD staffer (currently Sarah Webb is organizing these meetups but that could change) and potentially many more as there are typically several CRD employees in attendance at these meetings.
Next week I’ll give an introduction to the healthcare sector – Victoria’s second largest employer.