Upper levels of government right through to local businesses and everyone in between are often in the dark about an area director’s role, says Linda Worley.
After 15 years of being overlooked for vital meetings that impact her Area B taxpayers – the regional director is hoping to set the record straight with a new title, perhaps “Rural Mayor.”
She’s asking for political support to change “Electoral Area Director” to another term, not yet decided, that better reflects the role and responsibilities each elected official plays in their respective rural communities.
“When the word ‘director’ is thrown out, the perception of people and entities, is one of a person who sits at a board table,” she says. “They think of you as being an appointed official and not has an elected official, and that everything that comes across that table is a decision made by all of the board – and that’s just not true.”
Granted Worley is one director on the 13-member Regional District of Kootenay Boundary board – decisions for Area B services and its 1400 residents lie solely on her shoulders.
“My only council is who I choose to be my alternate director and in some cases, the Area Planning Committee (APC),” she explained, noting all those appointees are volunteers.
“I do bounce things off of them, but when it comes to decisions, I make those myself because I don’t want them to be held responsible for decisions I make – in case they back fire.”
Area B consists of seven pocket communities from Genelle to Paterson, with the seven-member APC representing interests in each sub-area.
“Those are concerns about changing designations of land, building and forestry, things like that,” Worley explained. “When it comes to my job, it’s budget and everything to do with Area B where monies are put into services – that’s what I make decisions on,” she added. “In fact, an area director has as much, sometimes more, responsibility than a mayor because I make all the decisions for my area, myself.”
Worley first brought up the idea for a more apt title during last year’s UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) and now she’s bringing the matter back home during the local government conference at month end.
“That will be going forward for discussion at the AKBLG (Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Government),” she confirmed. “It’s important to get people thinking about it, and negative or positive, at least it’s up for discussion.”
If the matter is approved by popular opinion, a resolution will be brought back to the UBCM this fall.
And if that resolution passes, Worley’s hopeful the title change could be in place within, or by the end of her current term.
“My understanding is if it goes through at the UBCM,, the worst case scenario would be three years,” she concluded. “That’s just my opinion, but I am hoping by the next (local government) election.”