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General · 6th November 2012
Jim Abram
We certainly are into fall! Another blustery day of wind and rain gives me good reason to stay in and write my report. There has been lots going on since the UBCM report that I wrote previously. I'll try to not be as lengthy with this one. I know there is a fine balance of keeping you informed and keeping your attention!

Upcoming Ferry Service Consultations

I know this is a ways off, (November 27th) but this is super important news for you to mark on your calendar. This will probably be the last opportunity to voice our concerns about the intended cuts to our service prior to the spring election. The meeting will be with the Ministry of Transportation, not BC Ferries Service! This is a good thing. It is the Minister, the ministry and the government that have the power to make positive change for us, not the Ferry Service. All the Ferry Service can do is rearrange the deck chairs on this sinking ship.

The meeting will be at the Quadra Community Centre on November 27th, from 6 pm to 9 pm. there will be another meeting on Cortes the next day from 11 am to 1 pm. It is essential that the ministry sees how important it is for our ferry service to be considered part of the highway system and treated as such as our marine highway. They need to hear this over and over. We cannot fall for their tactic of trying to get us into a conversation on which sailings can be cut or how to save them 26 million dollars. They don't need to save it. They need to properly fund it through the ministry, as they do all other forms of transportation in BC. So, please come to this meeting and drag all of your family members and friends. I am asking our young people to please take special note of this. It is your generation that can least afford the present ferry service, so it should be your generation that comes out en masse to tell the ministry how you are suffering. Please be there!

Sonora Island visit

I went by water taxi to Sonora Island on Oct. 11th to view an application for a public dock on Florence Lake at the northern end of Sonora Island. The application is from Sonora Island Lodge and I wanted to make sure that this would be as a public facility and would not alienate crown land and water from the public. I was pleased to learn that the facility will be totally open to the general public and will allow access to another great recreational opportunity for anyone that goes there. There will be a small dock and an outhouse and a picnic table for all to use.

Surge Narrows road end and Read Island visit

On the very next day (Oct. 12th) I spent the entire day dealing with Highways issues. I met up with the Manager of Highways and our Area Manager and we travelled to the road end at Hoskyn Channel Landing (our SRD park!), which is the transit point for the outer islands. This portion of the road (the last few hundred feet) has been the centre of controversy for years. Who has the jurisdiction? Who maintains it? There is no doubt in my mind nor in the minds of the outer islanders that it is the jurisdiction of Highways and they should maintain it. They have in the past and they must into the future. However, due to their insistence that it is not theirs, the community has been left holding the bag and has put in many hours of volunteer work to keep the road passable at the very end. This has been a herculean effort on their part and all done by hand rather than by Highways contracted machines. We were told that the issue needed to be settled by a judge. The community is willing to accept that challenge. More on that later.

We then travelled to Read Island in open boats in inclement weather and were met by a contingent of Read Islanders who took us on a very thorough tour of the island's road system, which is all within Highways jurisdiction. It was a rough day of bouncing around on bad roads that need lots of work. The reward was a great pot luck luncheon provided by the Read Island community. They are always very accommodating and generous with their hospitality. I believe the visit was very productive and will bring some very positive changes to Read Island in the way of some new culverts, and general road work.

Tidal Power applications in CR media

There are two tidal power applications advertised in the local papers for provincial permissions. File #1412452 and File #1412933, one to harness tidal power throughout Seymour Narrows from Brown's Bay to Maude Island and the other from Quathiaski Cove to the Cape Mudge Lightstation. Both are from SRM Projects of Nanaimo, B.C..

I have responded negatively to both of these through the SRD due to the nature of these waters. Anything that might be constructed in the area would not only be a hazard to navigation in an already dangerous area, but would be very unlikely to be able to withstand the forces of nature.
Even though the proponent talks about the works being underwater in nature, he may have forgotten the nature of the traffic in the area with tow lines deep under water behind tugs and a memorable rock in Seymour Narrows that to this day is occasionally touched by those lines.

I am in favour of tidal power and supported the application and the rezoning behind Maude Island, which is still to come to fruition. However, I cannot support these broad-brush applications for most of Discovery Passage from Brown's Bay to the Light house. This is absurd, at best. I hope that others will contact the lands branch and register your concerns. You can contact Front Counter BC or send in comments to John Neil at the SRD, jneillstrathconard.ca to be forwarded to the province.

Permissive Tax Exemptions

I was very pleased to be able to sponsor a tax exemption for the recreational portion of the Royal Canadian Legion property in Heriot Bay. They provide many amenities to this community and do many charitable works for our residents. I have been able to have the Board provide this exemption for many years. There were also two other properties that had some exemption applied due to the conservation aspects of their properties which they voluntarily gave up for the good of the environment.

Quadra Parks initiative

As you are all aware, a massive undertaking has been underway for some time to raise money for the purchase of three lots owned by American forestry company, Merrill-Ring of Port Angeles, Washington. These parcels will provide the joining of the Octopus Islands Marine Park and the Small Inlet Provincial Park and complete a multi-year effort by Quadra Islanders. This purchase and addition to the park will be a testament to the tenacity and hard work of the late Judy Leicester. She worked tirelessly for all of the years this has been on the books.

I will be very glad to see this process wrapped up successfully as I have been involved with the negotiations with this company since the '90's. I am now trying my best to help finish it up by approaching possible corporate donors on behalf of the parks group. I have had some success which will be announced later and am pursuing a number of other leads at this time.

I cannot stress enough, how hard the parks group has worked to achieve their goal of $200,000.00 from private donations. They are getting close, so if you haven't donated please contact the group and do what you can.

I would be remiss in not extending a very grateful thank you to all of the people who have donated so far. Your generosity is astounding and I thank you for taking part in this worthwhile endeavour.

Sewer Issues

The ongoing saga of the Quathiaski sewer fees continues. A group of about 10 users met with SRD staff last week and are not much farther ahead then when they entered the meeting. There was agreement to form a committee to try and come up with some innovative ideas on how to reduce the burden on them.

The SRD has started work on two bylaws to deal with connection fees and Development Cost Charges, both of which will help add money to the operation of the system over time. We will be looking at the expansion areas in the new year and deciding what to do on that front.

Advisory group

I have been going through all of the names in Area C and writing down possible advisors for a group that I can bring issues to and that I can ask to do work as needed: whether it be research or attending meetings of the committees or Board for support. I will be contacting people in this month to try and find a date for an introductory meeting.

OK... that is it for this report! If you need to contact me, 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 do not use my residential phone number for SRD calls. All business calls should be on 285-3355. Many thanks!

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Abram
Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD