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General · 16th February 2012
Jim Abram
Writing my report is a bit more difficult than usual at this time. As we all know a number of our island friends, family and neighbours have died in this past year. I came home from meetings in Vancouver on Saturday night only to receive notice on Sunday that yet another of my friends has died. As many of you may have heard by now, my good friend Al Luoma moved on Sunday morning. Al was one of the long time residents of Granite Bay and a son and grandson to some of the earlier founding Luomas of that area. He had a previous reputation of being one of the "wild ones" of the island and may have been in the earlier years. In the past many years that I have known Al, he has proven to be one of the most gentle people I know. He was as honest as the day is long and as true of a friend as anyone could ask. He loved animals and the outdoors with a passion. He has run the Granite Bay Park wharf and ramp for the regional district since we opened it and has done a remarkable job of keeping it up. I am going to miss him, as will many others.

This report may be fairly scattered and I hope you will forgive me for that. I am sitting in my hotel room in Richmond preparing for meetings of the Pacific Coast Marine planning group all day tomorrow. I guess there is only one way to get on with it and that is to just jump in and start somewhere.

First of all, I would like to take a look at the last issue of the DI and make a few comments on some of the content.

Homelessness Coalition
On page 2 there was a notice entitled "Homelessness Coalition.... etc." This initiative came out of a grant that was to be given to the SRD in some manner. After discussion at the Board, all directors agreed to just put it into a project that was already underway in Campbell River. Upon further thought, I considered asking for our portion, based on assessment, to be given to our Community Kitchen and our Food Bank, since they work in a related field to homelessness. I am still having staff explore this option and see if it is possible. If it is, then we will have a fairly nice infusion of cash into two of our very worthwhile programs. I know there are other programs and maybe they will also benefit. We'll see.

Gowlland Views proposal
On page 5, there was a letter, "Changing our Community Plan and Bylaws by a Contract... etc". This is not the case. It talks about the letter by Dan Bowen, the agent for the developer of the Gowlland Views proposal, from the previous issue. I have no intention of dealing with Mr. Bowen's letter or the comments therein. However, the author is correct in his statement about 100% support of the SRD for the proposal moving on to 1st and 2nd reading, not 100% support of the proposal. This is the process that needs to happen to get it before the public so it can be dealt with.

The major flaw in the letter is suggesting that the OCP and bylaws can be changed by contract. The contract that is being referred to is the Development Agreement, which usually happens after public hearing and third reading but before final adoption. I insisted that this process was flawed and I want the development agreement settled PRIOR to the public hearing so that the public will have every last tiny little detail of the proposal before them before they make up their minds on the proposal. This was an attempt to give you MORE information, not an attempt to twist the system. This way, you will know what you are really looking at in the final design of the proposal before the board votes on anything. This is for the benefit of the community, not the developer. So please understand the intent.

All advertising for this public hearing will be at the full extent of our ability as local government. Everyone will know. There will be no "subverting the normal process". The normal process will be enhanced if anything.

There are more items in the issue that deserve correcting, but you have probably had enough of that for now. I know I have! So I will move on to some of the other things that have been going on.

Ferry Commissioner Meeting in Victoria
I traveled to Victoria with 13 other Chairs of coastal regional districts and the Islands' Trust to meet with the Ferry Commissioner to discuss his report and recommendations. We were pleased with a few of them but had some serious questions about others. One that stood out was having local government tax, on our property taxes, to pay the Ferry Service additional money so that we could then lower the fare at the ticket booth! So... they will take our money at the booth and then take it again on our property taxes!?!?! That was just one example. So, let's just say that what we have been hearing from communities for many years and what he heard directly from them was not entirely reflected in his report. So our next step is to meet once again with the Minister and the Premier to try and get our fares lowered, the system put back in Highways so that we are all treated equally regarding transportation and to get rid of the Coastal Ferry Act. I will be talking to the Minister personally tomorrow in addition to our group meeting later this month.

Meeting with Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation on Quadra
We had a great meeting on Quadra with Minister Pat Bell and his assistant about a week ago. I arranged the meeting to take place with the President of the Chamber of Commerce, and with Spirit of the West Adventures so as to showcase our tourism industry, potential, and real life problems. Then we had a good discussion about connectivity and high speed internet, since his portfolio is Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. I then took him for a tour of the proposed Quathiaski Cove Local Area Plan proposal so he could see the "innovation" that we have worked so hard to work into our community planning which will create jobs, encourage innovation and create various styles of housing for all generations. He was quite impressed.

I received a call from him a few days ago to tell me that he had already followed up with the forestry company that is potentially going to cause a great deal of damage to our tourism operators. He has spoken to the top person in the forest company and instructed them to deal directly with the forester in charge to iron out the problems. So, I believe our time was well spent.

Meeting with Minister Responsible for Connectivity
I will be going to Victoria once again to meet with Minister Margaret McDiarmid, who is responsible for Labour and Connectivity, on the 20th. I intend to give her the business case for connecting our entire island to high speed fiber optic and to also increase reliable cell coverage to all of our island and the outer islands. This will include wireless internet where there is no chance of fiber optic. She will work closely with Network BC and with Telus on our problems.

Meeting with Regional Director of Telus
I will once again be meeting with the Regional Director of Telus for our area on the 27th in Victoria. I have now provided him with a complete set of maps and a written business case outlining the possible build-out for Quadra Island under the current OCP and bylaws. This gives him an idea of what our potential is for them to acquire customers. The SRD was very helpful in dropping everything and getting our GIS technician and our planners to work on this steady for a number of days. So when you question the value of our planning department, remember items like this. They did an exceptional job. Now when I meet with Telus I will have hard facts for them to bring to their superiors. I will also be asking them exactly what it is that they need to see on our survey. I don't want to go to all of the trouble to do a survey and give them useless information. I will fill you in after the meeting.

I have a whole lis of other projects that I am working on but I think this is about as much steam as I have left for the night. I still have preparation for tomorrow's meeting.

So, that is about it for this report. Please feel free to contact me (but not on weekends!) by email at jimabramxplornet.ca, by phone at 250-285-3355, fax at 250-285-3533 or send mail to Box 278, Quathiaski Cove, V0P 1N0.

I look forward to hearing feedback, so please feel free. Then I will know someone is reading my reports!

Respectfully,
Jim Abram

Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets, Area C
Strathcona Regional District
Jim Rocks!
Comment by annieofthenorth on 17th February 2012
Thanks for the imense amount of work you do for us all!
Anne Milne