|January 11, 2018
Kootenay Presbytery Motion regarding the Interim Report from Boundaries Commission
Kootenay Presbytery appreciates the opportunity to comment on the interim report from the Boundaries Commission dated January 10, 2018. We recognize the criteria used to propose the boundaries of the Regional Councils: geography, relationships, capacity, and culture. We strongly disagree with the proposal to divide the existing BC Conference into Regional Councils 1 & 2. Instead, we suggest merging the proposed Regional Councils 1 & 2 into one.
We consider the rationale for our disagreement under the same criteria used by the Commission.
By any definition, the BC interior has a challenging geography. Mountains and mountain passes constrained the construction of railways and highways. These constraints are somewhat less relevant with access to air travel, but air travel tends to Vancouver International Airport as a hub. For example, to travel from Castlegar to Prince George, which are both in the proposed Region 2, the most efficient route is to fly through Vancouver, which is in the proposed Region 1. (One could also fly through Calgary, which is in the proposed Region 4.) At first glance, traveling within the other proposed Regions does not require traveling through a separate Region: e.g. flying from Sudbury to Kenora – while arduous – does not require flying through Toronto. There is a paucity of north-south highways in BC, thus limiting the travel options that one might assume exist based on the proposed boundaries. The geographical rationale for dividing BC Conference is weak.
We are pleased that Kootenay Presbytery is not subdivided because this would have been challenging. However, our relationship with, say, Kamloops-Okanagan Presbytery is not stronger than our relationship with, say, Vancouver Burrard Presbytery. The proposed division of BC Conference into Regions 1 & 2 does not shore up existing strong relationship. Conversely, severing the Kootenays from our existing relationships in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver and area) would be detrimental.
At present, the bulk of the capacity in BC Conference is concentrated in the Conference office. There may well be a fair way to distribute this existing capacity among the proposed Regions 1 & 2 but the simplest and most equitable way to maintain and even enhance capacity is the merge Regions 1 & 2. This would make for a large Region, both in terms of number of pastoral charges (186 according to the interim report, which omits Vancouver South Presbytery in name) and in geographical area. However, one could argue convincingly that BC Conference is presently managing both of these challenges extremely effectively. We foresee no gains in capacity arising from dividing BC Conference.
This is the only rationale the supports the notion of dividing BC Conference into 2 regions: the Lower Mainland has a distinct culture from Vancouver Island, which has a distinct culture from the rest of BC. However, the pastoral charges in the northern portion of the proposed Region 1 have more culture in common with the pastoral charges of Region 2 than with the Lower Mainland. On this basis the culture-based rationale loses its merit.
In short, Kootenay Presbytery sees little merit in dividing the existing and high-functioning BC Conference. We rely on the resources and capacity concentrated at the BC Conference office and spreading these over two regions is likely to weaken them and, worse, duplicate them rather than uncover previously unexploited efficiencies.
The Planning and Visioning Team of Kootenay Presbytery moves: “We encourage the Boundaries Commission to reconsider this split and to merge the proposed Regions 1 & 2.”
M/S Jody Dudley/Gordon Swedburg CARRIED