Oh no, I am writing this on the Ides of March! ;-) “Beware the Ides of March”… Oh well, I attend meetings on Friday the 13th also. Can’t let superstition get in the way of local government duties!
I am going to start this report with a piece on Ferries, but do not want you to think that that is all there is. I will go into detail on all of the other issues that I am dealing with after the ferry article. It is timely to speak of the ferry event first.
Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC)
The Annual General Meeting of this regional group of the UBCM will be in Courtenay this year from April 10th through 12th at the Florence Filberg Centre. We have a full agenda of local govt. work to do, but as many of you may remember, we have held two other “events” at this gathering in the past.. very successful ones that supported local government and also garnered lots of media attention.
In this massive battle with the government over BCFS, everyone is always asking, "So, what's next?"... Well I have a venue for you and it will be at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities AGM to be held at the Florence Filberg Centre starting on April 10th and going through to April 12th as stated above. We have had two demonstrations at this AGM in the past few years and they have all been remarkably successful. One was in Nanaimo and the other was in Qualicum... There will be a huge internal local govt. session on the ferry situation for the delegates that should be a really good affirmation of what we are asking for: Reduce the fares, restore the service and put BCF back into the Ministry of Transportation.
There will be a few people there that you might want to talk to. The Premier has been invited, the Minister responsible for Local Government and the leader of the Opposition. There will also be many MLA's from Govt. and Opposition.
I would suggest that a peaceful support rally be considered once again to show that the people are behind the local government position as stated above. Lots of people and lots of signs - especially about putting the ferries back into the Ministry - will make a great media event and they will be there for sure... so think about it. This group (AVICC) represents all V.I. local governments along with all of the Sunshine Coast and the the Central Coast.. all in one place at once and in a Liberal riding.!!! How good can it get.??? So, are you up for it??? The conference starts at 1:45 on the Friday and ends at noon on Sunday. The main speakers will be between 1:45 and 3pm on Friday and 8:30 and 11:00 on Sunday… Stand by for more details on exact times, etc.!
This is your chance to get us out in front of the media in a supportive role.. supportive of all of these local governments that don't support the provincial govt. method of dealing with ferries.!.. All we need are a few organizers to make sure the signs are appropriate and lots of bodies... a sound system would be good, and some presenters. I will be glad to help, speak and MC if you like...
I keep hearing, "Why aren't we hitting the streets?", etc.. So here ya go.. a PERFECT opportunity that is easy to attend... Are you going to take the bull by the horns and do something? I will be there, doing the local govt thing and on the a panel about BCF and putting it back in the Ministry. Will I see you outside when I come out to speak with you and rally with you??? People have been saying, "I am tired of talk. I want action!" So here is your chance... We could have at least a 100 people there from Quadra alone, but this is not only a Quadra issue. This is all of us! All of the coast!.. Are you putting your names forward to do a bit of sign painting and showing up???... Let's see it! Let's give them a show of our strength!... A few good organizers can make this one work. It is all ready for you... Just step up to the plate. I don't want to do all the media prep. and come out and find that no one showed up.. That will look REALLY BAD!.. So what do you say? Are you game??? The woman that started the 20,000 signature petition (the Petition is now at 23,737 and climbing) is helping out with the organization of this event also. You can go to the following website to read more:https://www.facebook.com/events/784562934963986/?source=1
Back Your Local Gov.! As they Back Us!
Friday, April 10 at 1:00pm, 11th and 12th
Florence Filberg Centre, Courtney BC
This is the posting on Facebook to alert people to the event. I hope that there will be some keeners who will step up and help out. It won’t take much!
The last number of weeks have been Ferries, Ferries, Ferries! Three separate trips to Victoria for the Petition presentation in the Legislature, a meeting between the Commissioner and the Coastal Chairs Group, and a meeting with the Minister and the Coastal Chairs Group… Not to mention continuous media interviews! We will keep this issue front and centre until we win it or until the next Provincial election... whichever comes first.
So, we have all been waiting (not so patiently on my part) for word on what Telus is going to do about all of the promises they have made to us over the years. I am working with them on getting basic phone service to Granite Bay and Kanish Bay, connecting up the fibre optic where it is possible and improving cell / data coverage. I have had a great working relationship with the Vancouver Island District manager and I have finally been told that for the time being they will be implementing improvements to the Q. Cove section of the ADSL (high-speed) internet. The improvements will not only increase the speed but may increase the radius of coverage (which would be really nice!). The bigger fibre optic connection project will be done at the same time as the Campbell River project which is supposedly next on the books. I will continue to push from my end and hope we get better service sooner than later. I have also met with two Ministers in Victoria recently on this topic and it is now a number one strategic priority of our Regional Board.
Hydro Truck for Quadra!
I have been lobbying for this for the past two years and I was finally called last week to arrange a meeting with the top brass to see if we could make it work. We met last Thursday in Courtenay and as it works out they are totally in favour of this initiative that I suggested. They will require a covered structure to keep it dry and I have approached the Fire Chief (who will approach her Board) and I have approached Emcon Services. They are even willing to work a garage into the business case for having the truck here, but they just need a place to plop it down. This is great news for us, since this will allow hydro to go around during storm events and disconnect lines so that our emergency services can get through and so Emcon can clear trees safely so that the population will not be stuck in areas like they were two years ago. I am quite excited about the way this is proceeding and will keep you informed.
Granite Bay Wharf
A project i have been promoting for the past year has come to fruition at the Granite Bay Park Wharf. We now have a fire pump that can pump salt water to use on the docks in case of fire and for removing snow in the winter (so the dock doesn’t sink like it almost did this year) and it can also be used in the immediate neighbourhoods in case of house or forest fires. So, I am very pleased to have this completed. And it was all done with local labour and local supply of equipment, which I always promote and insist upon. I like to see our tax dollars come back to us in some way, shape or form.
Kanish Bay junk cars on water access
Many complaints have been received about the numerous junked cars and trucks and general debris that have been deposited on the water access at Kanish Bay. I have been working with the Ministry of Transportation and they are working with the RCMP to have them all removed. Since it is now Highways road in their inventory, I was able to just talk to them about it, since it is illegal and is making use of the access difficult. This should be resolved in the month.
Evans Bay Wharf
Another project that has been ongoing since the Federal divestiture of the Evans Bay Wharf to the SRD is the reconfiguration of the positioning of the wharf and a new ramp being added. The work is proceeding nicely with local people once again being hired to supply the materials and labour. I am extremely pleased that the Regional District has listened to my pleas over the years to do business in this manner. This is some of your Federal tax dollars coming back into the community. Bonus!
Q. Cove Sewer project
This expansion process is moving along nicely and on time. The 38 additional properties should be on-line by summer and the two that were along the bank on Green Rd. are already being installed (this was a separate process running simultaneously). We have since had a number of other hook-ups in the Cove, thus helping with the annual operating cost and we have had a number of other properties wanting to be added in. We were unable to accommodate them at this time since it would have held up the project for many months while new by-laws were drawn up and approved. So they will be worked into “Phase Two” of the expansion which will take place when necessary in the future.
I was able to get staff to reduce the Annual User Fee that was being proposed in the budget. We had all expected the additional properties to be on-line soon enough to defray the user fee cost for this year. It didn’t quite meet the deadline so staff proposed a fee that I said was unacceptable; around $580.00 per residential hook up. After considerable negotiation and re-working of the budget, the staff have managed to keep it within about $20.00 of last year’s rate. This will be a “bridging year” until we get those other hook-ups paying into the system. I did my best, as did they, and the way it looks right now is that the rate may be around $20.00 higher than last year. That is better than the $100.00 they approached me with originally. (I can’t remember if I laughed or freaked out, or both when they told me!)
Solid Waste Budget
This is the issue that has been keeping my temper up for some time now. This is the budget that is controlled by the Comox Valley Regional District and the SRD. I have been against the extravagant spending that has been taking place dealing with solid waste an with the fact that in addition to tipping fees at the land-fill they are now charging a tax requisition to all residents. I have opposed this vehemently since it was proposed. The CVRD controls the vote and so the budget passed, against our wishes, but just barely! This was a major surprise that so many other directors were following my lead on this. They too are fed up. There still could be some revisions, but that is where we stand right now.
Heriot Bay Road update
The slumping that occurred a while back has now been studied to death with three engineers' reports and much anxiety on the part of the homeowners above. I have hounded the Ministry of Transportation and have even gotten Emcon to go out and do some minimal remedial work on the ditch and culverts to avoid any further damage. The good news is that I have been in conversation with our new Ministry Supervisor and they are ready to start work any day now. They are even planning to go along with my begging for use of local contractors and local materials! So another economic development win for us!. I will talk to them again this week and hopefully find out exactly when they will start. I am going to do a tour with the Supervisor very soon on a number of issues...
OK! That’s it.. I have spent most of the day on this report and I do have other things to do still. I have 7 days of travel and meetings in Vancouver and Victoria and Campbell River that I need to prepare for. (You can reach me by cell or email if it is important). So, 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…
. If it is important, my cell is 250-830-8005… 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