In 2020, Neilson Strategies was retained to assist the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) in preparing a Background Study aimed at determining the feasibility of a new Regional Parks Service for the Comox Valley. The decision to conduct the Study was driven by a shared desire among the Regional District’s member municipalities and electoral areas to protect regionally-significant natural areas, and to create a network of greenway linkages between communities. A Project Working Group, supported by the region’s four Chief Administrative Officers, oversaw and guided the study.
The Background Study was a research piece designed to help local government decision-makers understand what regional parks are, why regional parks services get established, and what a regional parks service in the Comox Valley could look like. Examples of existing regional parks services in high-growth parts of British Columbia were profiled to identify the service structure options available. Recommendations on a framework for a Comox Valley Regional Parks Service were provided for consideration by the Regional District and its member municipalities.
The Study recommended that any new service be region-wide in nature, with participation by all electoral areas and all member municipalities. The Study also recommended:
- The establishment of a Regional Parks Committee to oversee the service, and to provide recommendations on all service matters to the Board
- The use of a customized voting structure for the Committee designed to address the concerns of participating jurisdictions related to control over important decisions, including those related to the acquisition of lands and development of service budgets
- The use of property value taxes, allocated among participating jurisdictions on the basis of converted assessment, to fund the service
The CVRD and its member municipalities established the Regional Parks Service in 2021.