FVRD chair asks Abby to reconsider vote to leave

Patricia Ross, FVRD chair, is asking Abbotsford City council to reconsider its decision leave the regional district.

Patricia Ross, chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District, is asking Abbotsford City council to reconsider its decision to leave the regional district.

“Abbotsford’s withdrawal from the FVRD would prove costly and damaging to Abbotsford as well as the region,” Ross said in a Thursday news release.

“We’ve seen no sign that the Province is interested in dismantling the FVRD,” she said. “The Local Government Act is very specific on the function of regional district government and on the importance of coordination among municipalities.”

Abbotsford city council voted earlier this week to ask the B.C. government for permission to leave the FVRD, and to form its own single-tier governance, citing a staff report that the city could save close to $759,000 a year by the move.

The report said the city could provide all the services now delivered by the FVRD for $1.6 million, including 9-1-1 dispatch and solid waste management.

But Ross, who is also an Abbotsford City councillor, said the report contains “a number of inaccuracies.”

She said the report states the city had to “sacrifice” $300,000 in regional gas tax revenue to other municipalities in the region.

“This is not correct,” she said. “The money in question is allocated specifically to regional districts for regionally significant projects.”

“If Abbotsford wasn’t part of the FVRD, there’s no guarantee the city would get any revenue grant at all,” she said.

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary said in an earlier interview that city taxpayers can’t help but save, if the regional layer of government is eliminated.

Ross said Abbotsford taxpayers currently pay about $2.42 a month for FVRD services that include 9-1-1, regional fire dispatch, solid waste management, weed and mosquito control, data collection on homelessness and transportation, and “liaison” with the B.C. government planners.

She said Abbotsford has never made use of a “clear process” in provincial legislation to resolve disputes, and invited city officials to meet with the FVRD.

“It would make sense for the city to bring its concerns into a constructive dialogue with the FVRD, rather than taking a confrontational approach,” she said in the  news release.

Ross was the only city councillor who voted against the motion to seek withdrawal from the FVRD.

The FVRD includes Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Kent, Hope, Mission, Harrison Hot Springs and seven electoral areas.