This past month has been busier than ever. With the ferry fight in full swing including rallies, continuous media and Board business at an all-time high on top of everything else, my days have been pretty much filled to the brim. I will try to keep this report to a minimum.Ferries, dreaded #*&!*# Ferries!
Where on earth do I start? I guess I’ll start with the daily stories coming from you, the public, concerning the hardships caused by the new schedule (and fares). Every day, I hear additional stories of how you are being impacted and I list them and I speak to media about them, so that government can hear it broadcast all over the Province. We will also bring these concerns to the BCFerry corp. at our next Ferry Advisory Committee on June 10th. Should be a heated one and remember that the public is invited to attend as observers and can also request to speak as a delegation. I really wish more of you would take advantage of expressing yourselves to BCFS in person at these meetings.
The UBCM Special Committee on BC Ferries (that I am on) will meet on April 30th to discuss phase two of the report, which is the actual socio-economic study (that the Province never did). We will give the consultants the terms of reference and strategize on how best to make this have serious impact on the government. As you all know from my last report, we had a great rally at the AVICC convention in Qualicum Beach on April 12th. We solidified the local governments of this coast, and beyond, and they are now totally on our side in this battle including the President of the UBCM (from the northern interior!).
As most of you saw from the news reports, we had an emergency call-out a few days ago and we didn’t have enough crew to make the after hours sailing. So the CCG was called and they did it. From the initial call to arrival at the hospital the incident took two and one half hours. That comes straight from the family involved. This is totally unacceptable and could have been a matter of life and death. This too will be on our agenda for June 10th with the FAC and BCFS brass. This is a (poor) management issue, not a crew issue. Luckily the event turned out positive for the patient, but what about next time. We heard at the last public meeting from Emergency Service providers that after hour call-outs happen on average, 4 times per month. That is 48 times per year! This needs to be fixed. Now!
I will be doing a CTV story on Monday when the stuff hits the fan over the new changes to the schedule. They called me and asked to cover the story. Of course I will do the story. What better way to get the problems out there for people to see. (This will have taken place by the time you read this, so go to the CTV archives to see the video, if you like).
Please document all problems with the ferry schedule that you encounter and send them to me by email, so that I can forward them easily. Having to transcribe phone calls and / or written comments takes a lot of time that I don’t have. So please use email if possible.
Last of all on the Ferry front, but possibly the most important, is that I have been compiling a list of possible issues that might be worthy of taking to court. I have contacted lawyers from my past provincial group involvements and have a group of bright lawyers who are willing to take what I have given them and see if they can spin the issues into legal arguments that are actionable. I just finished sending the issues to them on Friday the 25th, so hopefully I will hear back from them by the end of this week. So keep your fingers crossed that we have a valid case. Any lawyers that read this that want to throw in their two-bits, I am here to listen! OK, enough on Ferries! Thinking about them 24/7 is bad enough. Having to then write about all that is going on is enough to make one’s blood boil!Marine area Planning Partnership (MaPP) and… Geoducks!
This process is nearing finalization and the input from the recent public meeting is being processed. I will be going to Vancouver for two days starting tomorrow to work on final details with the group.
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 public meeting. 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) This is what I will be attending tomorrow and Tuesday.
I hope this helps you in understanding what I have been involved in on your behalf and how to provide feedback.
The reason I have reprinted some of the info from my last report is due to the newly released plans of the Federal Government, who always seem to act independently of everyone else and in denial of what is going on around them. They are aware of this MaPP process and the “zoning” that it has developed for acceptability of certain uses throughout the plan area. However, in complete isolation, they have released a plan to open the entire coast up to Geoduck farming (very large clams that live in sandy bottoms - see site below), in spite of the MaPP plan which controls the tenuring of such activities. True, the Feds issue the license to raise the critters, but the Province and the Local Government control the actual site tenure.
DFO has indicated that geoduck applications would be considered for almost every beach and foreshore in the Discovery Islands, including Waiatt Bay and Small Inlet, where we just spent 20 years going to the trouble of securing as continuous park lands and protected area.
We can inform DFO of our unhappiness with this method of “planning” on their part, by supporting the MaPP recommendations. This may be the most effective way to prevent the uncontrolled use of our shorelines. The deadline for submissions is May 15.
All the information is on the MaPP websites listed above. Go to North Vancouver Island and go to Draft Plan for Input
Please write comments in support of this Plan before the 15th. For information on the Federal plans, please see the following: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/consultation/aquaculture/geoimf-cgipan/geoimf-cgipan-eng.pdfhttp://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/consultation/aquaculture/geoimf-cgipan/maps-cartes-eng.html
For Further Information about Geoduck Farming go to: www.protectourshoreline.org Centre for Civic Governance Conference
I attended the above mentioned forum in Vancouver on April 4th and 5th. It is an annual conference of progressive leaders in local government and is always a treat to spend time with like minded local govt. officials and leaders in various fields from across the country. I was asked to attend as a presenter on the BC Ferries issue and had a wonderful response from leaders across the entire province, not just the coast. I know, this could have gone under my Ferries portion of this report, but this forum was about more than ferries. It was most importantly about climate change. The need to raise awareness of the immediate threat at our doorstep was emphasized with the latest science. One of the main things that came out of the forum on that front was a joint resolution, that I was asked to help draft, to be sent to the AVICC, then on to the UBCM and lastly on to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. It basically is asking the Province to lobby the Feds to revisit the targets for greenhouse gas reductions in light of the upcoming international forum on climate change in 2015. Things are progressing far faster than earlier models predicted and therefore the targets need to be strengthened now!Luncheon with Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
I had the honour of being invited by the Nuyumbalees Cultural Society at Cape Mudge to attend a luncheon with Her Honour Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon on April 25. She was doing a coastal tour to acquaint herself with the communities along our shores. It was a wonderful opportunity for her to meet the people and see our area. She was traveling on a Navy Frigate! I jokingly suggested she try the ferry next time when we were talking informally after lunch.
The Cultural Centre put on a beautiful lunch in partnership with Gowlland Harbour Resort and SouthEnd Farm and Vineyards. Park addition celebration
The evening of April 25th was also the official celebration of the acquisition of the additional lands at Small Inlet - Waiatt Bay Provincial parks. It was purchased from Merrill Ring, a forest company from Port Angeles, Washington after 20 years of negotiation and ups and downs. Though the Provincial govt. provided the largest share of funding and land trades, the people of Quadra supplied the lion’s share of the work to make this happen. I am not going to go into the history of the acquisition at this point, but just want to thank the organizers of the event which was held at the Heriot Bay Inn and was a packed house. And I do mean packed! We were there to celebrate our success, and we did! A few short speeches were given and the atmosphere in the room was nothing short of joyous! Provincial representatives came up from Victoria to attend since they worked on the file from the beginning. Unfortunately the Minister, the Hon. Mary Polak, was unable to make it. She has been a supporter since she took over the ministry. And of course, there were many tributes to the one person that worked so doggedly from the start, Judy Leicester, who was there in our hearts. We owe her a great deal for pursuing this for so many years. It is so unfortunate that she didn’t live to see it come to fruition. She will not be forgotten.Quathiaski Cove Sewer Expansion
We passed a number of readings of bylaws regarding the expansion project of the new properties that are proposed to be included in the sewer district. These will enable us to move on to the referendum. I am hearing all sorts of rumours and misinformation out there already and I hope that the ads that will be published shortly, and the letters that will be sent to each individual property, will clear up some of the confusion.
My own personal opinion is that if this expansion does not pass this time, the people who are effected will never again have the kind of opportunity that is now being offered them. The sewer will allow them to dispose of their sewage in an environmentally conscious manner, will increase their ability to densify the Cove area, as the community has already given the green light to in our Local Area Plan and it will increase their property value and the ability to sell a property if one wishes to, because it is a serviced lot with none of the uncertainty of buying a lot serviced by a septic field. I have been able to put a substantial amount of Gas Tax Money (a Fed., Prov., Local Govt. program) into this expansion project that will not be available in the future if this is turned down this time around. The cost of joining has literally been cut in half with those additional funds.
It is now up to the people within the expansion area only to vote on this. we have spent an inordinate amount of time on the issue. So no matter how you feel about the project, let’s vote in July and get it over with.
And now I will stop! 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!
Jim Abram Director,
Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD