General · 2nd August 2011
What an absolutely gorgeous day for BC Day and the beginning of August. Let's hope it starts a trend! This will be a fairly short report, but I will try to hit some of the highlights.
Ferry Commissioner coming to Quadra - Mark it on your calendar!
I hope that most of you have seen the urgent notice that I posted regarding the upcoming visit by the Ferry Commissioner and the Deputy Ferry Commissioner on September 26th at 7 pm at the Community Centre (yes, I know it is a long way off, but how time flies). This is our opportunity to impress upon the Commissioner how ferry fares are effecting families, jobs and the economy and the survival of our communities.
I know that many of you will be cynical about the impact we will have on the Commissioner. I know I always have that thought run through my head and my being every time some sort of consultation process comes up. What you need to understand is that the Commissioner is being sent out here to hear what the community has to say. He will want to hear about certain things. He will have a mandate from Government. What we all need to understand is, that does not matter a bit. If we all give him our heartfelt stories about the impact of ferry fares on families along with some solid numbers regarding jobs and the economy, he will be forced to report out on those comments. His mandate will be altered by public pressure. I have worked through this process more times than I care to remember. Governments come to the public with a set agenda under the guise of consultation. Government gets the riot act read to them and they are forced to convey that report to their masters. The Government agenda changes. The Government is forced to listen. It is a long-standing "play" that keeps getting enacted over and over again. It can be considered consultation by exhaustion. Tenacity prevails. This is not the time to tire of their process. It is time to use it to our advantage. All partisan politics aside, we, are the government. It just takes a lot of work and time and dogged determination on our part to make substantive change. Don't give up. Don't feel powerless. That is the government's wish. Don't buy it. Beat it.!!! Be there. Be part of the victory. Help save our communities.
As I said before, in the posted notice, I will be at the UBCM convention meeting with the Premier and the Minister on this very topic and I will be meeting with the Commissioner on August 8th, along with the Chairs of all the coastal regional districts and the Islands Trust, on this same topic. So I am counting on this community to come out in droves and fill the Community Centre and the Commissioners head with the facts: ferry fares are killing our communities. I trust that you will put on a show that will be remembered for a long time to come. I hate to miss the meeting, but I will be doing my part at even higher levels and together, we can win this battle, like so many others: attacking it from all sides at all levels at the same time!
I know that there are mixed feelings in the community regarding this proposal. I have done my part to try to make the proposal as clear as possible, through staff, so that it can be presented to the community with no hidden pieces. I have been told by individuals on the one hand, to get on with it and on the other hand, to not move it forward. As has been explained in the past, everyone has the right to apply to amend an Official Community Plan. If the application is accepted, which it was, then it needs to go through a public process to say yea or nay. It is time for this proposal to go to a public hearing and let the public tell us at the SRD what you want to do with it: pass it, deny it, amend it ??? That is up to the community at this point.
The proposal was given 1st and 2nd reading at the Board meeting last Thursday as the necessary step to getting to a public hearing. It will not proceed to a public hearing, at my request, until it has the entire Master Development Agreement attached to it for all to see. There will be no "unknowns" as far as permitted uses or any restrictions or how the enforcement will be carried out in the case of an infraction by the developers or subsequent owners. It will all be presented to you and you will tell the directors at the hearing what you think.
I hope that you all understand that this is the process that needs to be followed and that you will be totally included in it. The hearing will not be in the immediate future as I understand it, since the details of the Master Agreement will take some time to work out. So stay tuned.
Meeting with Chief and Council
We had our meeting with the Cape Mudge Band Council (Chief, three councillors, legal advisor and two staff). I believe nine of our SRD board members were able to attend. The meeting was about way more than the scallop farm lease on the east side of Quadra. It was about a changing landscape as far as First Nations rights and title are concerned and it was about how the Band feels about all levels of government and where they feel they, and we, fit in. Certainly, the scallop farm was discussed, but with no resolution. I am not going to go into any more detail than this since the Chief's final words after some healthy discussion were,"I like to listen and then go away and think about what we have talked about for a few weeks or so before I make any decisions." Out of respect for the Chief and his method of doing things, I am not going to say any more until we have had a subsequent meeting, so as not to presume what he might have to say about anything. That will need to come from him and then I will convey it to you.
I think I am going to stop here, since I have other work to do outdoors. 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. I am still getting emails at the old address which is no longer active as of today.
Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD