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General · 16th April 2014
Jim Abram
I hope that many of you got to see our celestial bodies at work last night! That was an incredible eclipse of the moon! We were very fortunate that the clouds cooperated (to a degree). The view of Mars was also incredible. And tonight we have a full moon. Spring has sprung. I guess I can blame BC Ferries for my not getting my fruit trees pruned this year. I just didn’t have time, with all the organizing, media, meetings, etc. Oh well, they will get a break from the pruning shears this year. This job pretty much takes up all of my time and energy and other things (like taking care of my home and property) need to be put aside. Hopefully there will be a break at some point.

BC Ferries - Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC)

On Saturday, April 12th, A group of about 80 - 100 people gathered with signs at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre to rally around local governments while they met at the AVICC to discuss many important issues including a major policy paper on BC Ferries. The meeting inside was attended by local govt. reps. from the Central Coast, the Sunshine Coast and all of Vancouver Island. After the March 11th protest at the Legislature in Victoria, I was wracking my brain to come up with “what’s next?” and it came to me that we had the AVICC convention coming up in exactly one month. I put out feelers for interested parties amongst all of the islands and got very little interest. But good ol’ Quadra, always ready for opposition to oppression, stepped up to the plate. It wasn’t easy after just having put so much energy into the Victoria protest to get people out but eventually a few stepped up. Heidi Ridgway set up an event page on Facebook and took on the lead organizer spot for me and some of the usual helpers came forward and we managed to pull it off.

It was a great day! The weather was perfect, the local government reps. were primed and ready due to lots of phone calls that I made beforehand to let them know what was going on.

This was a rally with a difference. We were there to SUPPORT local govt. in its efforts to help us with the BC Ferry issue. The UBCM and AVICC set up a Select Committee (which I sit on) and then hired a consultant to look into the false statements made by the Minister that they had looked at the impacts of the decisions that they were making. We knew this was false and our consultants proved it. They found that, “there appears to be no public information available from the government… We would have hoped and expected that the Government would have done a business case study before making these announcements.” That is pretty powerful stuff coming from independent sources, hired by organizations that rarely get this involved in any single issue.

They developed a policy paper that was released at the AVICC on April 11th just prior to our panel discussion of the issue that day (which I was part of). The entire report with appendices was about 80 pages long with information gathered from over 400 respondents to their survey on impacts to individual businesses and communities. We had a full hour and hit the entire gamut of issues around BC Ferries to bring all of the local government officials up to speed. The policy paper then went to the floor of the convention on the morning of April 12th (just before our rally) and the recommendations were to proceed with a phase two report, the gist of which would be going back and getting quantifiable data regarding the impacts and then reporting back to the Select Committee and then taking it to the UBCM convention in September for a reporting out to the members of UBCM. I was thrilled that the motion passed nearly unanimously (two didn’t vote in favour, out of about 400).

So back to the rally. I greeted the crowd and spoke a bit and then invited members of the community, many local govt. officials, the union rep., provincial reps, the President of AVICC (Mayor of Sydney) and the President of UBCM to speak to us. The message was very clear: All local governments support our efforts and will work diligently over this next year to change the course of the provincial government. In the AVICC wrap-up remarks at the end of the convention, the President said that there are two main focuses for the AVICC in the coming year, and the first one on the list of two, was BC Ferries. It doesn’t get better than this. So, my sincere thanks to all of the people who helped make this day possible. You were great! And don’t forget; this is not over yet! We will win this war, but you will need to stay involved. We must keep the heat on constantly. I am doing another CFAX Radio 1070 AM interview today (15th) at 1:00 - 1:30 pm with Ian Jessop. You can get it on podcast on their site if you want to listen later. We have been getting media for a number of months on a daily basis. Since the March 12 rally in Victoria we have gotten anywhere from one to six media articles every day, some of them from the majors, like Stephen Hume, Michael Smyth and others.So, please don’t lose faith! As I said we can win this. The gov’t is going to cry “uncle” at some point and turn this around as soon as they realize how much jeopardy this will put them in during the next election in the rest of the province. The rest of the province supports us! That is what I am working on continuously and we are winning! We have so many letters of support from local governments, Chambers of Commerce and businesses from areas that do not have ferries. This is getting to the government. If you know people in the other parts of the province, get them to write the Premier and the Minister and letters to the editor of their local papers (and the major ones also) and to copy them to me. This will do great things for our cause.

Quathiaski Cove Sewer Expansion - Progress!

Well, as I mentioned in a previous report, we are moving ahead quite nicely with the process to determine if the sewer area will be expanded. A number of key motions were passed by the Board last week and we will be proceeding to a referendum on July 26th. The full report that was presented to the Board can be found on the SRD website, strathconard.ca There is a lot of detail associated with the report that I will not go into here due to space. It is a very straightforward process and I am hoping that the will of the people will deal with this issue once and for all. I do support the expansion as it will solve the sewage problems that either exist or may exist in the not too distant future. Property values will be increased which is a benefit to the owners. This may also allow for a bit of densification in the Cove area which is consistent with our Local Area Plan and could provide some more affordable housing. There will be lots of notice given and public advertising of the process in the months to come. Only people in the effected expansion area will be voting in the referendum.

Marine area Planning Partnership (MaPP) meeting last night

It was great to see some Quadra people show up last night at the meeting in Campbell River, even though the notice and advertising were pretty minimal. I have mentioned this process in previous reports and the fact that I have been a part of the process as the SRD appointment. It is a planning process in conjunction with the Provincial government and First nations governments, along with stakeholders from all sectors. I have participated for over two years and the plan is due to wrap up in June, if all goes well. I am including some websites for you to look at. A couple are for information on the process and one is for feedback if you were unable to make the meeting last night. The plan area is the entire coast from Alaska border to the bottom of Quadra Island and it is divided into four sub-regions. We are the North Vancouver Island Region. Here is the webpage with the North Vancouver Island Plan and associated documents:

Web page for NVI Plan: http://mappocean.org/north-vancouver-island/draft-plan-for-input/

Plan itself: http://mappocean.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NVI_DraftPublicPlan.pdf

Plan Summary: http://mappocean.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NVI_MPSummary_FINAL.pdf

Things to Know about MaPP: http://mappocean.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Things_To_Know_About_MaPP_20140401.pdf

Webpage to provide feedback by May 15: http://mappocean.org/north-vancouver-island/draft-plan-for-input/north-vancouver-island-online-response-form/

The meetings have been mostly two days long in Campbell River every six to eight weeks as the NVI Plan area and then about every two months in Richmond for two to three days for the entire plan area (all four sub-regions)

I hope this helps you in understanding what I have been involved in on your behalf and how to provide feedback.

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… or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JimAbram…. 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