Island News & Views
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General · 4th November 2010
Jim Abram
Well, here we are at the beginning of November already. The brilliant colours of fall still surround us, although the winds are doing their best to take care of that. We had a great summer season, although it seemed to fly by faster than usual. Hopefully we will have a "reasonable" winter!

I have skipped the last couple of reports for a number of reasons: too many items pending to actually have anything to report, too much "doing the work" to take the time and energy to write about it and just plain ol' missing the deadline in one case, due to being in Vancouver for meetings. I know, "No excuse". But there you have it. I will try to fill you in on the host of things that are going on in local government in this report.

Belated Halloween greetings

I would like to make mention at this point of how wonderful it was to see our community out having fun this Halloween weekend. There was a great party / dance at the Heriot Bay Inn to start things off, followed by another great party / dance at the Legion and topped off by a wonderful Halloween Fun Night for the kids at the Community Centre along with the annual fireworks display. This is very encouraging to me as your director. I like a party as much as the next person (as you can see from the photo), but my point is that we are having fun as a community, in a number of venues and involving all ages. This is what is needed to keep communities alive and vibrant. So, congratulations to all of those people that made these events happen, especially the volunteers that put together the "Fun Night" for the kids. Let's keep it up everyone!



Budget time

It is that time of year again when we at the Strathcona Regional District must turn a lot of our attention to doing the budget for the upcoming year and revising the five year financial plan. This process started in September and will continue right to the end of March 2011. So you can see it is not something that gets thrown together quickly. One part of the process that I insisted on during the design of this year's process is that there be a public meeting on Quadra Island to explain the process and the figures. That was going to happen this month, but I asked that it be postponed, since there were no numbers to be discussed. There would have only been a general presentation on the process. So it will be held the first part of the new year instead. I believe this will be more valuable to the community and staff are very wiling to cooperate in this regard.

Light station de-staffing

As many of you are aware, there is a process that was announced by the Minister in September of 2009. It would have seen all light stations in BC de-staffed in the next few years. Our SRD board took a very strong position against this and we took it to the Union of BC Municipalities convention that year where it passed unanimously and then went on to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, where it passed unanimously also. So the initiative by the Minister was referred to the Senate, for a sub-committee to "study". That has been going on for months in Ottawa. I, and others, have lobbied the Senate to come to BC and hold hearings on the coast to get a real feel for how users feel about this proposal. I was notified yesterday that the Senate will be sending a group of Senators to BC during the week of November 15th. They will start in Victoria, move to Nanaimo and end up in Campbell River on the 18th. They will be booking meetings during the day with parties that want to present to them and then there will be formal meetings running from 4 pm to 7 pm with the first two hours being made up of booked appointments to speak for 10 - 15 minutes and then an hour of open mike with a 3 minute limit. I do not know where the meetings will take place at the time of this writing but please watch for further postings as I get more information from the Senate clerk. It is essential that people interested in retaining staffing at light stations (Cape Mudge and Chatham Point are on that list!), attend these meetings. Even the views of occasional, casual users of the services are important for the Senators to hear. PLEASE ATTEND.

Quathiaski Cove Treatment Plant Study

Worsely Parsons, the engineering contractor hired by the SRD, has completed the physical assessment of the treatment plant for the Quathiaski Cove sewer system and is currently writing a report due on November 5 that details the current conditions of the plant including its ability to be expanded, any required maintenance and upgrades, and a recommendation for maintenance procedures and scheduling. These engineering details are critical prior to planning for any expansion of the local sewer service area and will inform several of the projects that are moving
forward.

Quathiaski Cove sewer expansion

The regional district has received a final report on expansion of the current sewer service area to include a collection system for a further 40-45 lots that are adjacent to the current service area. The report indicates routes for sewer lines, any pump station requirements and addresses the individual needs of each proposed new service in terms of whether on site small pumps will be required due to topography. Approximate costs have been determined for the collection lines. We are waiting for the results of the Treatment Plant Study noted above prior to moving this project forward. If the treatment plant study results are positive, the next step will be to contact all of the landowners in the proposed expansion areas to provide information on costs, scheduling and process. At that point the regional board will need to formally seek the consent of the landowners in order to proceed. The process for that consent will still need to be determined.

On a very positive note, staff have come across an available grant application that may apply to this expansion. It could cover up to 80% of the cost of the actual infrastructure up to a maximum of $400,000.00. This could result in as much as a 50% reduction in the actual cost to the homeowner for their connection fee. They are actively pursuing this possibility even though it has a very short time frame for application and their staff time is pretty much already spoken for. I really appreciate their assistance in this effort to save money for Quadra Islanders.

Heriot Bay sewer services

Koers and Associates engineering firm are completing a draft report to the regional board, due November 15, that outlines the servicing options and costs for treatment of sewage from Heriot Bay. Included in this assessment is the cost and configuration of a treatment plant of some type in or around Heriot Bay and/or the costs and design details associated with connection to the Quathiaski Cove sewer system. As costs for any
potential collection system have already been determined, this final piece of work will help determine the viability of the provision of sewer to Heriot Bay for the community. As soon as the report is in, a public information session will be held to provide the results. There will be plenty of notice of this meeting once it is planned.

So, as you can see, Area C has been very active and has been receiving a great deal of time from the staff at the SRD along with a number of consultants. All of the above projects have been moving along at the same time, along with the next two major items and along with the daily activity generated by this area. I have had my hands very full trying to keep all of these projects front and centre!

Quathiaski Cove Village Plan

The Village Plan that was completed in August and was the basis for the last two public meetings was then forwarded to staff in order to review and amend where appropriate to comply with the Local Government Act. That work is substantially complete and a draft Village Plan will be forwarded to the Steering Committee (our local committee of islanders) for review and comment. Following any comments or recommendations, the draft document will be presented informally to the community through a variety of means for consideration and review prior to the initiation of the formal process of bylaw formulation and incorporation into our Official Community Plan. The referral to the Steering Committee is anticipated for the end of November.

A very exciting component of this issue is that I discovered that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has awards for Sustainable Communities. I put forward a motion at the last board meeting to ask the board to apply for this award officially. It passed at the board. Should we be successful, it will give us national recognition for the project that we have underway and may possibly allow us to leverage other grants to help put some of the innovation that is in the plan into place. Our consultant and two staff members are working on that application right now.

Gowlland Harbour Views, District Lot 208, Schellinck

The proposed rezoning for this property is in the development stage. Staff have reviewed the proposal and forwarded a comprehensive review
report to the regional board in August. The board recommended that a further staff report and proposed bylaws for 1st and 2nd reading be
prepared. This was due to the fact that it was not felt that there was enough space provided for wildlife corridors with connectivity right through the property. Discussions are ongoing with the applicant regarding key elements of the proposal including the provision of parkland, land uses
and servicing, and the connectivity issue. Once that report is complete, the next step will be the advancing of bylaws to the regional board when appropriate. This is a large and complex development and it is being given due consideration by staff and the board.

Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR)

This legislation has been brought forward by the Provincial government and it is mandatory for local governments to adopt it and incorporate it into their OCP's and bylaws. Due to this, there will be a public hearing held on Wednesday, December 8th at 7 pm at the Community Centre. We will also be holding the hearing for the Cortes Island bylaws immediately after our hearing. This is being considered a house-keeping bylaw, since it is mandatory for all areas and each area is having their public hearings to fulfill the requirement. It deals with mandatory set backs from watercourses, wetlands and the shoreline. We already have those type of regulations in place but this regulation alters the existing process and amounts required.

High speed internet

Believe me, I have not forgotten this issue. It is front and centre at all times. I have been dealing with Telus directly and our CAO has recently come up with a program that may be just what we are looking for. The deadline fast approaches, so it is one more thing that has to be at the "top of the stack", along with all the other issues I bring to staff. I am considering asking the community if they would be interested if I were to form a committee to work on this issue until it is done! We have hit so many brick walls and just don't have the resources at the SRD to keep on this daily, which is what I think it needs. There is also the issue of running fiber optic cable to Granite Bay instead of conventional wire. Why not? They need to run line out there anyway, why not join the 21st century?

So, if there is interest, please send me your interest statement (by email please) and if there is enough interest, I will set up a meeting and get this going. Community involvement!

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