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General · 20th January 2011
Jim Abram
Well, here we go again! Another year of productive activity in Area C. I am looking forward to it and am quite excited about how much we have accomplished in the past year. At times it seemed glacially slow, but that is the way it goes sometimes. Now we are moving forward on all of that work that took so long to get to the point of implementation. I doubt that we will be able to complete all of the many projects that are in the work plan for this year. But we are going to do our best to make it all happen.

The parking conundrum in the Cove

As you know, Rudder Road was closed a number of months ago to help alleviate the problems associated with parking along Green Road. It was blocked off by the Ministry of Highways at the top and bottom of the road. This, along with the "No Parking" signs along Green Road (north), did in fact reduce the parking problem for that area. However the problem was then transferred to Green Road (south) and remains a problem to this day. I have received many complaints which I have passed on to the RCMP. A suggestion came to me a short time ago that I am bringing to the Safety council this Thursday night. The suggestion involves moving the concrete barriers at the bottom of Rudder Road upwards along Rudder Road just far enough to create about twelve angle parking spots. This area of Rudder Road is still relatively flat and it just might work. If it does and it is allowed by the Ministry, the cars that are now parking along Green Road would be able to park in those newly created spaces and eliminate the dangers caused by having to park so near to (or on) the road surface along Green Road. I certainly feel it deserves consideration. We'll see!

Internet Committee

I would appreciate it if the four or five individuals who expressed an interest in sitting on this committee to help me get high speed service for all of Quadra, would email me with their name, phone number and dates / times when they might be available to meet as a group. I will find a time and date that works best for all (or most) and set up a meeting.

Local Area Plan for the Quathiaski Cove Village Planning process

The Regional District committed to getting back to the community, through the steering committee, by this month. We are meeting this Tuesday night at the Heriot Bay Inn to review the first draft of the Local Area Plan amendment to the Official Community Plan. This is a very exciting moment and it has entailed a couple of years of work by members of the community and myself and a full six month process with a consultant to guide us through the process. Public involvement has been incredible and we are now going to look at a near finished product, which will still go to the entire public for comment. I have been reading the SRD draft for the past two days and I think it is an incredible reflection of what the community told them they wanted. We will see how it is received by the other committee members and then prepare for a public meeting in the near future. Stay tuned!

Library

I know that many of you are concerned about the library discussion that is taking place at the Vancouver Island Library Board (VIRL) level. This is not an issue that the Regional District will be making a decision on. It is in the hands of the VIRL and they are reviewing the requests for proposals for both Heriot Bay and Quathiaski Cove. I spoke with the SRD representative on the VIRL last week and she told me that the committee has finished their review and it now goes to the board. She also told me, for clarification, that the policy regarding one library being 15 minutes from another library does not apply to the outer islands. I would encourage anyone who has comments on the library issue to please forward them directly to the VIRL at PO Box 3333, Nanaimo, BC, V9R 5N3

Sewer issues

As I stated in my last report on the ongoing sewer issues for both Heriot Bay and for Quathiaski Cove, things are going very well and are on schedule. This would include the expansion of the sewer system to a number of houses that need the service on the northern and eastern boundaries. Those costs are being fine tuned and our application for a Towns for Tomorrow grant will be evaluated very shortly. If we get the grant, the cost of sewer service will be greatly reduced. A fact sheet is being developed by the SRD staff at this time to be distributed to all of the potential customers. The study of the sewer plant itself is nearly complete and will be released as soon as possible. The study to connect the Heriot Bay area to the Q. Cove sewer is weeks away from completion and the Development Cost Charges study is also in the final stages of drafting. All of this will come together very soon and a public meeting will be held to discuss the issues at a time to be determined.

Quathiaski Cove sewer fees and service area taxation

I was having a really good day today, with time set aside for writing this report. Then, silly me, I answered the phone and was asked to go to Campbell River for yet another meeting about the financial plan for this year. So I went to town and met with our Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Financial Officer and General Manager of Operations for a full two hours. Keep in mind this is not the first time we have met. We have been working on the financial plan for three months! My goal has been to keep our taxes as low as humanly possible. In most services this was achievable. However, today we hit the proverbial brick wall. The Q. Cove sewer service has been a real challenge for the past year due to a major breakdown in the plant last year. The repairs had to be done by creating a deficit for 2010 and a property tax had to be levied to the people living within the specified area of the sewer system for the first time since I have been the director. The user fees have always paid for the system in the past, but could not cover such a major event. I totally opposed the property tax last year and still am fighting to have it disappear and go back to a strictly user pay system. It was explained to me today that staff cannot find a way to eliminate the property tax THIS YEAR and that the user fee needs to be increased nominally to avoid going further into the hole. We went through every possible scenario that the four of us could come up with and the best we could do was to increase the user fee slightly and keep the property tax at the same level as last year. That is for now. They are still working on finding other ways to reduce the budget. I am pulling my hair out trying to make this work.

The good news is that when the 47 new hook-ups that are being added if they pass through all of the hoops and agree to go ahead, will substantially reduce the cost to all users and will help to eliminate the property tax in 2012.

I have asked staff to hold a public meeting to explain all of this to you and answer any questions and they have agreed to do that. I certainly cannot explain all of the details of the restrictions that they face through legislation in how tax money gets spent. So, we will have a town hall meeting. Date to be determined and publicized.

That has got to be enough to keep you reading for awhile! 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