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General · 16th May 2013
Jim Abram
After a day of the most intense rainfall of the past few months, I am looking out my office window at the sunshine as sunset approaches. What a day! We certainly needed the rain. Now the sun can come back. It is such a "mood enhancer" and I get more done around here when I am actually at home. The Regional District meetings and island issues do their best to keep me away and it has been one of those months. Back to back meetings of the Board, numerous meetings of the outside committees that the Board has appointed me to and local island issues of great importance have all kept my days and nights filled.

I must tell you that as much as I love this position, work at our Board table is sometimes totally fruitless. The really productive work gets done with certain staff outside of Board meetings (requiring more days in town) and is well worth the effort. The level of stress at the Board is unbelievable yet things manage to get done by taking the time to work collaboratively outside of the official meetings.

The number of complaints from constituents is on the rise and most of them are serious business and need to be dealt with. The frustrating part is I am unable to talk about many of them due to confidentiality. Eventually all will be in the public domain and can be discussed. For the time being, I just need to keep woking on the issues and know that the best possible outcome will be achieved.

The outside committees that the Board has appointed me to (Federal Marine Planning, Provincial and First Nations Marine Planning and BC Ferries Chairs Group) are all due to wrap up by the end of this year. The reports that we have been contributing to will be up for public review by July and everyone will have a chance to view them and comment.

On this eve of our Provincial Election, I eagerly await the results. If the current government is re-elected, then we have no hope with the ferries from the information that I have at this point. No commitments have been made in our favour. Service cuts have been promised by the current Minister. If the NDP gets elected, they are on record to freeze the fares, look at roll-backs to 2003 levels and treating the ferry system as part of the marine highway under the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. So by the time you read this we will know where we stand with our future regarding ferries.

As was mentioned in an earlier report, I obtained $40,000.00 from the Ministry of Community, Culture and Sport to be applied to reducing the user fees for the Quathiaski Cove sewer user fees. I will be attending a meeting with the users later this month to discuss how the money should be applied: all at once this year or using a portion of it to leverage more funds to reduce it over two years. It's complicated. More to follow after the meeting. Staff at the SRD have been very helpful in coming up with some creative solutions on how to make this work in favour of the users.

In the very near future I will be able to announce some very wonderful news regarding more grants (not from your property taxes!) to a number of organizations and initiatives. These will be discussed at the next Board meeting and then I will be able to give you the details. You will be very pleased with the diversity of initiatives that will benefit from these grants.

We are in the process of hiring a new Chief Administrative Officer due to the departure of Brian Reardon. He has taken a job in the interior of BC. As a member of the committee I cannot discuss the details since it is a Restricted in-Camera issue. What can be said is that we are making this a priority for the Board and will hopefully have a new CAO in the very near future. In the meantime, business carries on as usual.

I am sorry to leave you hanging on a few issues, but I felt it necessary to at least let you know that there is a phenomenal amount of work being done even though I am not allowed to speak about some of it at this time.

And, oh yes! I am awaiting word from Telus on the completion of phase one of our cell / data/ internet coverage. As soon as I hear you will be the first to know.

That is about it for now. 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