General · 23rd March 2010
This will be my last report before going on holidays. I wanted to make sure the you were given as much information as possible regarding the many contentious issues that are going on right now prior to my departure.
So, I am going to dive right in.
Scallop farm public hearing rezoning results
The public hearing was held on Wednesday, March 17th at the Community Centre and was a packed room. More than 200 people attended.
This has been a very highly charged issue since its inception and that was obvious at the hearing. After the hearing, the directors were charged with reading two three inch thick binders of presentations prior to being able to make a decision at the SRD Board meeting on Tuesday, March 23rd.
This was a very difficult decision to make in that the applicants are our neighbours and were asking to establish a use that might improve economic development opportunities for their people. The choice of the siting of that use was probably the most contentious part of the application and certainly the part that was spoken about the most often. The other point that was mentioned as often was the fact that the application is contrary to our Official Community Plan. The plan was recently updated in 2007 / 08 and had language added to it that would specifically address marine based industrial activities in settlement areas. This was the direct result of applications by the provincial government to establish geoduck farms in the same vicinity and in Open Bay. There was resounding opposition to that proposal and after it was defeated, the language was added to the OCP to insure that it would not happen again.
After a great deal of consideration by the Electoral Area Directors, the decision was to deny the rezoning application for this use in this area. From the input received at and before the public hearing, I believe any person would have been compelled to do the same. This is not in any way a show of opposition to aquaculture nor First Nations economic development, but more a show of support for the OCP and an acknowledgment that this site is not the right site, according to the community.
The OCP was developed in full consultation with the community as a whole and included full and meaningful First Nations consultation. This holds true for previous iterations of the OCP and certainly for the development of the 1990 Shoreline Zoning Bylaw. All First Nations in this area were consulted, in addition to the Hamatla Treaty Society.
I made a subsequent motion to start discussions with the Cape Mudge Band to find a site that is both suitable and acceptable to the community.
Grieg Seafood fish farm at Gunner Point
After many, many months of very heated debate, hundreds of submissions and two well attended public hearings, the SRD has denied final adoption of this bylaw.
What started out as a well intentioned attempt by the Electoral Area directors to precipitate major changes in how the fin-fish farm industry operated has proven to be unobtainable at this time due to a host of circumstances.
The regulatory framework that we were operating under at the time this application came forward has changed dramatically. It is unknown if any of the conditions that we had negotiated with the applicant could be carried out under the new jurisdictional changes that are anticipated for 2011. That is too far off in the future with no guarantees of what anything will look like at that time. Due to these extenuating circumstances, staff, legal advice and the directors all feel that this process can not be left hanging any longer.
It will now be up to the applicant to consider their options after the new legislative regime is in place in 2011. By that time, I hope that closed containment will be the industry standard as we were trying to support / promote in this application.
I am glad that we as elected leaders at the local level did what we did in trying to leverage better practices within the industry to help keep the industry alive at the same time that we were enhancing the protection of the environment and the wild fishery.
Quathiaski Cove Village planning process
The third public meeting took place on Sunday, March 21st at the Community Centre after two and a half very intense days of "charrette" (design workshop) process. I attended all of the sessions and I can assure you that every possible option was considered and reconsidered. It was exhausting at the same time as being very exciting. David Rousseau (the consultant) and five members of the various "teams" of working group members presented the results to a crowd of about 60 people at the Centre and explained how we got to where we did. It was a very well laid out power point presentation and the audience seemed to enjoy it. I fielded questions from the audience at the end and all in all I feel it was a very successful evening. Now David and his team will pull together all of the details and work with the planners at the SRD and come back to the public in mid-May and give another public presentation. Please watch all of our local media for meeting time and date. I look forward to seeing you there.
Rebecca Spit road work
I have reported earlier that we are going to get improvements on the road at the Spit. The road work has commenced and will hopefully be finished by the end of the month, which isn't too far off. Doug Peters has done some work trying to get rid of the water and break up some of the potholes and then the grader will be brought in to smooth everything out and then material will be added (crushed rock) and graded once again. So we are getting there.
Evans Bay wharf divestiture
I cannot even remember how many years I have been working on getting this wharf divested to the community through the regional district. Let's just say, it has been a very long process! I have been in negotiations with Transport Canada, along with the regional district staff during the last year of this process and it has proven to be a very successful (though slow) process. We have finally gotten the final documents, which we have had to keep confidential since they are dealing with negotiations, and we can now report out to the public on this newly acquired piece of much needed marine infrastructure for the outer islands. I am very pleased to be able to say that we have finally achieved this goal and would like to thank all of the people from Read Island, especially Richard Gilmore, for helping to make it happen. I would also like to thank our Chief Administrative Officer, Brian Reardon, for putting up with my ongoing hounding to get this issue completed! We could write a book about this ongoing saga, but I will let it go at, "We finally did it!"
Taking a break
In spite of having surgery in October and taking a few weeks to recover, this has been the craziest, busiest year of my entire local government career! A number of the issues have been drawing to a close this past week, or at least to a break in work load. It is time for Wendy and I to take a break and get some rest and relaxation. So, I will be away until the end of April. I will not have my cell phone nor my laptop. My alternate director will be attending board meetings in my place during my absence. Feel free to call me when I return between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday (not on weekends, folks!) at 285-3355, or you can fax me at 285-3533 or you can email me anytime at jimabramxplornet.ca, or by mail at Box 278 in the Cove, V0P 1N0... Lots of choices.
Please note my new email address.
Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD