Island News & Views
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General · 22nd October 2013
Jim Abram
The fog has just lifted and what a beautiful, sunny day was hiding behind it! Hope you are all enjoying our fantastic fall weather.

I have been doing my best to keep my reports short so that people will read them. I have failed dismally the last two reports as they have been very long. However, from the feedback I have been getting, they are being read. So here we go with another one!

Ground breaking and the Local Area Plan… some clarifications

As the person who initiated the Q. Cove Local Area Planning process and its inclusion into our OCP, I am very pleased to see some activity taking place in the designated area. So many people spent so many volunteer hours over more than two years to develop the plan and it is finally coming to fruition. I am sure this will encourage others to move ahead with their plans for developing a walkable, multi-generational village.

I would like to clarify some of the comments / questions posed in a letter to the editor in the last issue of the DI. They were valid concerns and deserve answers. I asked our staff to please clarify them for me and I am including them below. There were four main points that needed some clarity.

1) Notification and public review of Development Variances
Although it may seem like the public had no say in the variances that were granted, they actually did. They had the entire two + years of public input into developing the requirements for development permits / variances and once they are in the OCP, it becomes a staff exercise to implement them as applied for. All of the legislated requirements were followed as far as notifying the surrounding neighbours. There is no public process, like a public hearing, for variances. They are administered by staff in discussion with the applicant and through reports to the Board. As an aside, in answer to one of the comments in the letter, I would mention that the process conducted by the Vancouver Island Regional Library in deciding the location of the library was completely their process. It had little to do with the SRD and certainly has nothing to do with a development variance permit. I would also mention that due to the shortfalls of that VIRL process as pointed out by islanders, the VIRL completely revamped their consultation process and have made it much more community focused. So good work, folks! Your input was heard and acted upon.

2) Parking requirements
Yes, there was a significant reduction in the parking spaces required. This was done in conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation and fully supports the policies in the plan to have the focus in the plan area less on vehicle traffic and the provision of parking, and more on walkability and the public realm. The reduction of use of the automobile is strongly encouraged throughout the Plan, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This number of spaces (26) in the new facility is still greater than those allotted for the current facility at the Q. Cove Centre.

3) Landscaping and public walkway
Landscaping and walkway are to be installed by the developer (this is on page 11 of staff report). This forms part of the terms and conditions of the Development Permit and therefore must be completed by the developer and it has a bond attached to it. So the direction of the Plan is once again being adhered to.

4) Signage requirements
The sign structure includes two 2X8 business sign boards and one 4X8 community sign board, for a total of 64 sq. ft. However the variance is for the sign structure.
The total area permitted by the variance is to the outermost limits of the sign structure, being the timber frame. This is not a solid sign structure, but a timber frame that includes separately spaced individual sign boards affixed to the outer timber edges. The timber framed structure includes 3 separate sign boards, two for the commercial businesses and one for the community sign board. The two separate 2X8 business signs will total 32 square feet of sign board and the 4X8 community sign board will total an additional 32 square feet. The 160 square foot sign structure (16X10) will therefore include only 64 square feet of sign board. The provision of the community sign board is considered an amenity and benefits us all regarding community events.

Page 5 of the staff report indicates support for the sign variance, given the following:
Ø each of the two business signs in and of themselves meet bylaw requirements of 1.5m2 (16.15ft2) as each business sign individually is 16 ft2;

Ø the commitment by the applicant to offer the inclusion of the sign board amenity within the commercial sign;

Ø the sign being setback from the corner of the property limiting sight line issues;

Ø the first few feet of the sign structure will be screened by landscaping;

The overall design of the sign, timber framing and openings between individual sign boards, reduces the degree of massing that would be otherwise presented by a solid block of signage.

I hope that I have answered all of the questions regarding the variances given to the new facility. I am sure it will be a good start to our Local Area Plan.

Streetlights

I am faced with a bit of a dilemma regarding the Q. Cove streetlight service. Due to the outrageous cost to the individual property owners in the previous small service area, we went to a larger service area, being all of Area C, and went to a parcel tax. it was agreed by staff at the time that we would not exceed $3.00 per parcel, per year (that's right, Three dollars!)

I was told last week that due to continual annual Hydro increases that we are needing to exceed that amount and that we actually had a small deficit last year. So, staff are recommending that we raise the parcel tax or go to an assessment based tax to fund the service. I believe they said it should work out to around $6.00 per property either way, but they have not fine tuned that number yet. When they do, I will need to figure out what to do about it.

Park acquisition

I cannot give you any news as of yet reading the park purchase between Small Inlet and Waiatt Bay. I spoke with the province on Thursday and they still did not know if the offer had been accepted at that point. The deadline is up and possibly by the time that you read this report, we will have a new park! I hope everyone is keeping their fingers, toes, arms and legs crossed (might as well throw in "eyes"!).

Chamber of Commerce meeting

I had the honour of attending the Discovery Islands Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday night. It was great to hear what is going on with local businesses and promotion of our islands. If you have a business and are not yet a member, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to join. The Chamber can be a very effective voice regarding island issues.

School Zone signage

I have had conversations with the Ministry of Transportation regarding the placement of the School Zone sign on the north side of Heriot Bay road as you come down the hill. I have had so many people comment that it is way too far up the hill. I have brought this to their attention and it is actually "way too far up the hill". It will be moved to its mandated position which is closer to the stop sign at West Road. At the same time we talked about proper signage for the crosswalk for the school. That is going to be looked at this week by the engineer in charge of such things and our Area Manager.

Kanish View Estates Drive

I mentioned that Emcon and the Ministry would be touring the road to Kanish View Estates to see what needed to be done in the short and long term. They in fact did tour the road last Tuesday and are budgeting for the maintenance of the road and noting any upgrades that need to happen before winter. They are also working out the long term upgrade plan for the road. I am very pleased that they are following through on their commitment.

I think 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