Moving Forward with UBID Conversion

The Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) and Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) are working together to plan the transition of water, fire protection and streetlighting services to the CVRD this summer.

UBID/CVRD Conversion: Online Open House

Join us to learn more and ask questions about the upcoming Union Bay Improvement District conversion – an online update hosted by UBID and the Comox Valley Regional District.

May 18, 2021
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Pre-registration required. CLICK HERE to sign up. Questions can be shared in advance by submitting here.

Background

The work follows the results of the November 2020 referendum, where residents in Union Bay voted 72 percent in favour of converting services to the regional district. The conversion date is set for July 1, 2021, pending provincial approval.

Now, the CVRD and UBID are turning their focus to the transition work ahead. For more information on the referendum results, visit the Union Bay Improvement District website.

 

What is Conversion and How Does it Work?

What's Next

Over the coming months, there will be cooperative planning to ensure a smooth transition, including:

  • Advisory Group: Representatives from UBID board, staff and ratepayers are working with CVRD representatives to plan the transition. Advisory members are UBID Chair Ian Munro, Trustee Susanna Kaljur, Union Bay resident Carol Molstad, UBID Administrator Gary Nason, CVRD Director Daniel Arbour, CVRD Deputy CAO James Warren and a Ministry of Municipal Affairs staff member Catherine Lee.

  • Legal Conversion: The province will complete the formal legal process to convert the improvement district services to regional district services.

  • Public Updates: The community will continue to receive updates through the UBID Landowners Update, the virtual open house planned for May 18 (details provided above).

 

Frequently Asked Questions

We know the community has a number of questions about the upcoming transition – here’s a few of the most regularly asked:

How was the UBID Conversion Study completed?

The study explores the implications of the potential conversion of existing UBID services – specifically water, fire protection and street lighting – to the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD). Two potential governance options were reviewed for consideration by UBID ratepayers: (a) convert UBID services to CVRD local services, and (b) remain as an improvement district. 

Funding for the study was provided to the CVRD by the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (the Ministry). During the project, some additional funding was provided by the Ministry to undertake a high-level infrastructure assessment of the water system.

The consultant (Urban Systems) worked closely with UBID and CVRD staff to obtain background information, conduct site tours and field investigations, and analyze the data to assess the financial and other impacts. Throughout the study, an Advisory Working Group comprised of staff and elected officials from both UBID and CVRD as well as Ministry staff provided support and guidance to the consulting team.

Why was a municipality not considered?

UBID initially advised the Province that it wanted to study three outcomes: becoming a municipality, converting to CVRD services and continuing as an improvement district. The Province advised that it would only support a study to explore conversion to the CVRD or continuing as an improvement district. If conversion to CVRD does occur, then it could potentially be a ‘stepping stone’ towards municipal incorporation further into the future.

What are the estimated cost impacts of conversion?

The consultant worked with CVRD and UBID staff to review the potential costs for conversion to the Regional District, and determined that the “apples to apples” impacts of conversion is estimated to be cost neutral, with a potential cost savings depending on overall labour costs. Cost savings include deleting the expenditures for UBID Trustees, leasing and operations costs of the UBID Administration office, and salary and benefits for the UBID Administrator. This is offset by additional CVRD support services costs of approximately 4-5% of total expenditures for each service category (water, fire protection, and street lighting) as well as increased costs for the new water treatment plant and union collective agreement.

Regardless of conversion, 2021 was anticipated to see additional costs for UBID ratepayers, including additional operating costs for the new water treatment plant (commissioned in Spring 2020), additional labour costs due to the new union collective agreement (ratified by UBID in Fall 2020), and costs for infrastructure renewal and replacement as part of a comprehensive Asset Management Plan.

What will happen to the Union Bay Fire Department?

The fire department will become a fire department under the CVRD and operate in very much the same way as it currently does. Specific details are still being confirmed. The Union Bay Volunteer Firefighters Association will operate under a fire services contract with the Regional District, receiving an annual grant for administration, bookkeeping, insurance, utilities and volunteer remuneration.

What will happen to all of the assets of UBID?

All capital assets (e.g. infrastructure, buildings, equipment) and land owned by UBID would transfer to the CVRD for the purpose of the service that is being provided (e.g. water, fire, street lighting). Langley Lake Dam and associated water licenses would also transfer to the CVRD for the purpose of providing water service to the residents and ratepayers in Union Bay. In addition, all liabilities would also transfer to the CVRD, including the long-term debt on the water treatment plant.

In the event that Union Bay incorporates at some future date, will the Langley Lake water licenses be returned to Union Bay?

Were the community of Union Bay to incorporate as a municipality at some future date, all local services, along with the related assets and liabilities, would similarly be transferred from the regional district to the new municipality. This would include water licenses used to draw water supply and any water licenses or capital reserve funds that are accounted for in the capital plans for that water service.

What will happen with the borrowing for the water treatment plant?

The CVRD will inherit the borrowing arrangements that UBID have in place at the time of conversion. If more favourable terms become available through the CVRD and the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) after conversion, those options will be pursued.