Island News & Views
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General · 18th December 2010
Jim Abram
I am pleased to have this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, a joyous holiday season and hopefully a slower paced new year!. May you spend time enjoying your family and friends and appreciating all that you have and where possible share what you have with others, even if it is no more than a sense of caring. I wish it were Christmas time year round, so that all of us could have that feeling of peace and love in our hearts towards our fellow human beings that seems to be more prominent at Christmas time. We all share this wonderful earth so please be good to it, yourselves and others. Happy holidays from Jim and Wendy, our kids, Melissa and Jesse, son-in-law Dan, and grand daughters Kira and Cleo. They make all of this intense involvement in politics worth it! We need to think about the future generations.

Lightstations
I have just returned from 5 days in Ottawa dealing with the issue of the destaffing of lightstations. I was summoned by the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to appear as a witness, at their expense. I also made use of the trip by setting up a meeting with the entire BC Caucus of the Conservative government, which includes all MInisters, MP's and Senators from BC, and also attended the House Committee on Fisheries and Oceans along with meeting personally with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (responsible for lightstations). I also met with numerous Ministers, MP's and Senators individually and with opposition MP's as well. I finished off the week by meeting in Vancouver in the Ministers' Regional Offices, with three lead Ministers, and two lead Senators. It was a very successful week. The Senate will write its report and recommendations and deliver it to the Minister by the end of December for a decision. I would like to thank all of you who made the effort to appear before the Senate sub-committee when they were in Campbell River. Also, many thanks to all of you who wrote supportive letters to the Senators. I represent two lightstations that directly serve our area and many more that serve us indirectly. I will keep you informed of the progress. In the mean time; Fingers crossed!

Internet committee
I put out a call for people interested in getting together with me in the new year to work on getting high-speed internet for all of the island. I got a good response and I just want to remind those individuals that I have not forgotten about them. These past two months have just been too incredibly busy to concentrate on any more new projects. By January I hope to be able to set up a meeting. Will all of the interested parties please email me their availability as soon as possible. I have staff working on possibilities from the SRD end, but I think we need to deal with this ourselves.

Quathiaski Cove Village Planning process - Next Steps
Now that we have almost completed the village planning process for the Cove, the SRD planning department has had time to do a rough draft of taking that information and putting it into the format that it needs to be in to be considered as a Local Area Plan amendment to our Official Community Plan. The commitment by the planners was to bring that document back to the steering committee for comment in the late fall. A meeting was set for this week but too many people were unable to make it so the meetings have been moved to January 18th and February 1st. The plan will then be "tweaked" and put into bylaw form and brought to the community for consideration. This has been a very long process (years) and has been actively being worked on at the steering committee level and now the SRD level. It is an innovative solution to many of the problems that we as islanders have identified. We have applied to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for recognition under their Sustainable Communities program, since there is good reason to believe that this could be an example of process and product that could be duplicated across the country.

Gowlland View development
Last month the board decided to not proceed with first and second readings of this application because there were some wildlife corridor issues that needed to be dealt with. Staff met with the applicant and worked out those details and the application was before us again at the committee meeting last week. We recommended that it go to first and second reading and then to a process of developing a Comprehensive Development Agreement prior to proceeding to a public meeting and then a public hearing. So this development is getting a great deal of attention from the SRD to make sure it is as good as it can get prior to putting the public through the process of reviewing it.

Sewer issues
In past reports I have mentioned all that is going on with the Quathiaski Cove sewer and the proposed Heriot Bay sewer system. I will try to give you a brief update here since there is a lot of activity around these issues.

First off, we are in the budget process right now and will be until March. My initial direction to staff for Area C, Quathiaske Cove sewer service area, was to run the system on user fees alone and eliminate the property taxation that was applied this last year. We have gone over every conceivable scenario on how to do that and unless we raise the user fees by well over $100.00 per year, that can just not happen this year. So I have agreed to a compromise for this year only: Do not raise the user fee and reduce the property taxation as much as humanly possible and to ELIMINATE it for 2012. By then we will have enough new connections that the system should be able to run on the user fees alone. I have done my best to make this very difficult situation bearable for this year, as a transition year.

The treatment plant study has been completed and it showed that there needs to be an immediate inspection of the main shaft in the plant. it is an old plant and was old when it was taken over by the SRD. The cost of doing this inspection, in the amount of around $10,000.00, will be completely covered by the Gas Tax Fund that we have access to. Once that is done we will see if it needs replacing. This is required due to the fact that if it fails, the plant will be shut down for an unacceptable amount of time.

The study to expand the sewer area to take in 47 more properties is pretty much complete and the costs are in. There are two options for the route of the mainline to take and one is cheaper than the other but it depends on getting a short right-of-way dedicated between two properties. The really good news on this front is that the SRD board just applied for a grant of $400,000.00 to do this project and if we get it, the cost to the property owners will be about 50% of what the engineers are telling us right now! This will make the addition extremely affordable to all property owners that hook up and the overall impact of this expansion will add 47 users to the running of the entire system, keeping the user rate down or even reducing it, in the best case.

The Heriot Bay study is almost complete and we will be releasing the details in January for consideration. The proposal seems feasible at first look, but the question will be more along the lines of is it acceptable. That will be for you to decide. Stay tuned!

I guess the point to be made here is that the SRD has been working really hard to catch up on the sewer issues that were let go for far too long when we were still part of the CSRD in Courtenay. I did everything I possibly could to move things along but it was impossible to get anywhere. Now that we have our own good staff and an engineer, we are moving ahead rapidly. I am still doing everything humanly possible to make all of this work for all parties at the least possible cost to anyone.

A wish for Quadra

As winter approaches, I hope that we as a community will not hunker down for the next three months in our own little worlds. I hope that there will be festivals, parties, performances, gatherings, get-togethers and collaboration on how to have fun. We need more "fun" on Quadra right now. I don't know what form it should or might take, but I have too many people say that they are looking for more to do, especially in the evening. I know that many of the businesses are working hard at making this happen. And we need to support them. But I would also like to see people of all ages make things happen!. It takes energy. And there is a lot of that on Quadra. So let's harness some of that energy and make it through the winter doldrums. And who knows, maybe it will last throughout the entire year, with more outdoor festivals and events where we can have fun!

My next report will not be until the middle of January. The SRD office will be closed the week after Christmas. So everyone take a break and enjoy the holidays. I am going to try to do that as much as I am allowed.

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
Cleo, age 1, by Melissa Abram
Cleo, age 1, by Melissa Abram
Kira, age 4, also by Melissa
Kira, age 4, also by Melissa