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General · 9th September 2010
Jim Abram
Well, here we are at the end of the summer season, with Labour Day passed and the kids going back to school. It really feels like fall. The rain was needed but I would not complain if we got a few more months of sunshine and warm weather. I am not ready for this, even though most of September and October will be spent indoors in meetings and more meetings! This happens every year: Labour Day passes and meetings go crazy.

So, last report I presented a long list of things that were coming up at the Board meeting on August 26th. Many of them were to do with sewer issues. And sure enough, they were all on the agenda.

Quathiaski Cove Sewer User Fees

This item was on the agenda for all four readings to raise the annual residential rate for sewer users by $39.00. This may not seem like a lot, but it was right on the heels of a first time ever taxation on properties within the sewer area to pay for some unexpected repairs from last year. I said in my last report that I was not in support of this increase for a number of reasons, all of which hinged on additions to the sewer area, thereby bringing in more user fees and more connection fees / development cost charges, which would be put into reserve for any possible repairs. The addition of users would even possibly bring the global user fee down over time, rather than looking at an increase at this time. Staff made a good argument to increase it now, since the new users would not be on-line in the 2011 budget year. They would possibly be on-line in the 2012 budget year. Hence, I was willing to take the chance that since we did all of the necessary repairs this last year, that there would be no urgency to increase the rates at this time. There was much healthy debate around the table (this is a full board vote, not just electoral areas). In the end, a vote was taken and the User Fee Bylaw passed. I voted against it, as I said I would do, along with three other directors.

The good news is that this rate will probably be short lived and I have talked with our Chief Financial Officer about reviewing our five year financial plan in great detail and figuring out how we can eliminate the property tax portion all together for next year, or at least significantly reduce it. I hope that we can make that happen. This action in combination with more users coming on-line in the next couple of years should make the financing of the sewer system sustainable. That is the goal.

Sewer expansion area
This received approval by the board to go ahead and draw up the bylaws that are necessary to expand the sewer area to take in some properties on the west and north ends of the defined area. Staff were also directed to develop the best method for voter assent of this proposal. There will be a vote within the sewer area!

Sewer condition and capacity study
This item was passed without a hitch, since it is the key part in this whole issue of sewer use. The study will be paid for entirely out of Gas Tax rebate funds from the Federal government to a maximum of $25,000.00. Once we know the results of this study, we will be able to make much more informed decisions with respect to sewer issues.

Gowlland Harbour Views proposal

This development out near April Point was to receive first and second readings, but the board felt that there still needed to be more work done on insuring wildlife corridors are protected. This seemed to be a reasonable suggestion by the Mayor of Campbell River and I believe the applicant will be agreeable to having a better look at this item. It was given to staff to deal with and will probably be back at the next board meeting

Park dedication on Read Island
The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) is very pleased to announce that it has accepted a land donation which will result in a new park being created on Read Island. The new park, ‘John Kim Nature Sanctuary’, is a 4.6 acre forested property located just inland from Surge Narrows on Read Island just beyond the school property. It was gifted by Eileen Sowerby and her land partners and the property will be preserved as a natural park area in memory of Eileen’s beloved son John McKim Millar. Ms. Sowerby is most grateful to her land partners, who readily agreed to the donation. I would like to sincerely thank Ms. Sowerby for this very generous gift and lasting endowment.
The Nature Trust of BC will be holding a covenant on the property and the Strathcona Regional District will be assisted by the Surge Narrows Community Association to steward the park’s growth in the spirit in which this gift was intended. Once again, thanks, Eileen!

Tax exemption
I was pleased to once again put through a tax exemption for the Royal Canadian Legion for the Class 8 portion of their property taxes. This is the portion that is connected to the recreational aspect of their activities and it helps them out in their efforts that benefit the community.

Union of BC Municipalities upcoming meeting

I will be away attending the UBCM annual conference from September 26th until October 1st, dealing with all of the issues that effect our area and also all of the broader issues that effect us all from the broader provincial perspective. It is a great opportunity to network with other local government representatives and also to meet with provincial ministers and ministries.

Feel free to call me between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday (please, 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.

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Abram
Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD