What an incredibly beautiful, crispy, sunny day with a dusting of snow and frost on everything! And I hear there is more coming. Great weather for brisk walks to walk off some of the holiday treats. It has been a very busy but productive past two weeks. Every day has been filled with SRD business and lobbying for our community. It is very satisfying but very exhausting at the same time. I will try to bring you up to date on some of the most recent issues.Meeting with Telus - Connectivity!
My meeting day with the General Manager for Vancouver Island finally arrived on Jan. 9th. I had to go to Victoria the night before since my meeting was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Our one-hour meeting stretched into two hours due to the subject matter, what I had to present and his increasing interest as we met. It was great!
We discussed all aspects of coverage for our island, the history, the experience with Cantel and the way to move forward. I have a huge task on my hands, which the two of us developed at the meeting and agreed to carry out in the next few weeks. We developed a complete "work plan" for each of us and I started on mine as soon as I reached the parking lot, by calling the Minister's office responsible for connectivity to make an appointment. I also made some calls to Granite Bay contacts to assign their tasks if they are to get high speed service via fiber optic lines. They are already working on it. Each area will need to do the same, so be in touch with me and I can give you advice on how to proceed. I will be meeting with the Minister within the month (probably sooner). The very next day when I returned home I got a call from the researchers for the Minister to make sure that they had all of the data they needed. I spent an hour on the phone with them and I think they "get it".
My next major task was to convince the SRD to pull people off of existing projects and give full attention to developing a complete mapping of Quadra and part of Read Islands to show existing parcels, residences, zones, OCP designations and then to expand that into total build out under current zoning, so as to show Telus what their business case potential might be for the future. This is the most critical piece of information that they need to convince the brass at Telus to move us up the list for immediate upgrades to fiber optic service and expanded wireless and cell coverage. (I went for the entire package!.). Brian Reardon, our CAO at the SRD was most helpful in making sure that the right people were assigned to the project and they will be working on it this Monday (the 16th) long before you even read this. Once I have that info in my hand, I can share it with Telus so that they can present a good business case to their supervisors and I will also be able to present it to the Minister to make sure she keeps after Telus. This is all very exciting news to me and should be to you also if you are wanting high speed internet.
One of the next most important pieces that Telus needs is "What is the community buy-in to this service?" So, I am going to need to quickly develop a survey that will tell Telus how many existing residents would sign up for high speed service, and all of their other services if they were available. This is crucial information and I would ask everyone who lives on Quadra or Read to fill out the survey and get it back in. I would also ask that each person spread the word to anyone that does not get the survey and encourage them to fill it out. This is your chance to help out with a goal that has taken a long time to reach.
Telus wants to move quickly with the planning stages of this, so please do not delay. I am going to leave it at that for now and fill you in as we go. Anyone who wants to help in some way, please contact me by email with the title "Telus Assistance" in your subject line, and make sure you give me all of your contact info. Quathiaski Cove Sewer Expansion
I have been in many discussions with residents and with the SRD staff over this project . I have met a number of times with staff and will be again at least twice in this coming week. The project has had suggestions for a few minor changes that could possible drastically reduce the cost. The engineers are "ground truthing" that possibility this week and if it works out we will possibly hold another public meeting or send out a very complete description of the proposal by mail to all effected land owners. I will know more later this week, but want to assure you that you will be the ones that make the decision (the land owners in the newly defined area). I think that the planners have responded very well to my suggestions for possible scenarios and they have mapped each of them out and estimated costs for each scenario. I must commend them for their openness and the speed with which they put this all together. I know they want to see it work out for the people who need sewer. More to follow.
Quathiaski Cove Local Area Plan
This is the Quathiaski Cove village plan that we all worked on for about two years. It has been put into Local Area Plan format and has received 1st and 2nd readings so that we could proceed with referring it out to all of the necessary agencies. As soon as we hear back from those agencies and first nations, we will then proceed to public hearing. At that stage everyone will have the opportunity to express their opinions. Should it get a positive reaction at public hearing, it will be given 3rd reading and proceed to the Ministry for their sign-off and then back to us for final adoption. At that point the plan will take effect and any developer who wishes to put the plan into action will be considered. This will include the area that has been suggested for a seniors' care facility that would help to keep our seniors on the island instead of having to move to unfamiliar places to receive the care that they need. The plan will also include multi-generational housing for all ages and income levels with the hope of providing more affordable housing for young families and others that need it. This is another of the very exciting projects that we have been working on as a community and it is hopefully finally coming to fruition. That will be up to you!Miscellaneous FYI
We are starting our annual budget process this week that will go on for many months until it is finalized on March 31st. We will begin our Strategic Planning process for Solid Waste Management this Monday in Courtenay and we also have our Inaugural Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board on the same day. We then start our Strategic Planning process for the SRD Board on this Thursday and Friday. These are all in addition to our regular committee and board meetings, so it is going to be an extremely busy next few months.
That is about it for this report. 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. You can also view my website at www.jimabram.com
Please do not use my residential phone number for SRD calls. All business calls should be on 285-3355. Many thanks!