Here we are into February already and that would mean that we are well into the upswing in seasons. Let's hope that we do not get hit by some more really bad weather, as sometimes happens just when we think we are "out of the woods". The days are getting longer and bulbs are peeking out of the ground!
Advisory Group meeting
My Advisory group inaugural meeting took place January 24th and was a great success. Fifteen of the seventeen members attended and we had good discussion after introductions and hearing what it is that each was bringing to the table. This is a very great group of people who represent most views and areas of the island. They will be a useful sounding board for me and the forum will be a good conduit for the community to bring issues to me. Our next meeting will be in a couple of months. Since the meeting, Paul Puddy has been added to the group, so the number will now be eighteen. Their commitment to the process of community involvement is sincerely appreciated.
Community to Community Forum
A meeting with the Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' First Nation (Kyuquot / Chekleset) under the Community to Community Forum auspices, which is sponsored in part by the Union of BC Municipalities, was held on Jan. 18th. The Chief and Council met with our Board at the Maritime Heritage Centre and had a very open and frank discussion about all of the issues they are concerned about and we discussed all of the issues that we might be concerned about. They have a signed treaty and will possibly be joining our Board as a full member at some future time. They will be joining as observers in the very near future and will be pursuing joining the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District Board as soon as it can be arranged. This same process will take place with each First Nation that completes a Treaty, so our Board table could increase in the near future. We are all looking forward to a very positive exchange of ideas at the Board table.
Rather than dedicate an entire section to each topic, it seems sufficient to mention some of the issues that continue to fill my plate, such as:
The Quatiaski Cove Sewer user fees debate between the users and the staff at the SRD (still unresolved, but creative solutions are being explored);
The provision of cell and high speed data transmission to the Islands. A meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 25th in Victoria with the man in charge and the work has begun on the installation of the cellular / data equipment here on Quadra. The timeline is still the end of March.
The wharf divestiture process continues for Surge Narrows, Owen Bay and Port Neville. A conference call was held with Transport Canada, myself and SRD staff to discuss details and next steps. My preference for Surge Narrows wharf was that Transport Canada not divest it and that they continue to maintain it since it is the hub for the outer islands. We will be doing an inspection tour as soon as it can be arranged and advertised to the communities.
The Board appointed me to a number of "outside" committees that have a huge impact on our area. My attendance at their meetings is required and is in Richmond, Vancouver, Victoria, Campbell River and Nanaimo. The committees are the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA), a federal DFO group, the Marine Area Planning Initiative (MaPP), a Provincial / First nations marine planning initiative, the Regional District Chairs Group to deal with BC Ferries and the Homalco Treat Advisory Committee to advise the Province on local government concerns that may arise in the negotiations. Each of these committees are crucial to our Area C and it is incumbent on the Director for Area C to take an interest, since the issues being discussed have an effect on our social, environmental and economic health.
The annual budget process is underway (also known and the Five year Financial Plan) and will be at the final draft stage in the next month. It is available on line at www.strathconard.ca
It will need to be adopted prior to March 31st.
That's 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!
Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD