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General · 20th December 2015
Jim Abram
Since this is the last report prior to Christmas, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you the very best Holiday Season possible. We have had challenges over the past year and we will have more over the next year, but for now, it is time to step back and reflect upon all the wonderful things that we have: our freedoms; our beautiful islands; our friends and families; our “riches”; our wonderful lives. We are all very lucky people and need to celebrate that even if it is only for a couple of weeks. Then we need to try and keep it in mind throughout the year, when those challenges present themselves. We are fortunate people. Please don’t forget it. Treat each other well, even those with whom you don’t agree with, and we will do fine as a society, locally and globally. I only have a few more commitments until the new year and I intend to spend my time with family and working outdoors, recharging for the new year. You will not hear from me until the new year, unless you need to contact me for some reason. I’ll be here as always. So, once again, wishing you the best of the season.

It has been a jam-packed month and the following are a few of the issues I have had to deal with:

BC Ferries

Ongoing, never-ending battle to get our fares reduced, service restored and ferries put back into the Ministry of Transportation where they belong. I work on that daily, with both levels of senior government, with the media and on Facebook. (incredible tool, by the way). We are making progress.

I will report further when I have all the details about the fiasco that took place last night (Monday) leaving people stranded on both sides for many hours due to a “staff shortage”… This is an issue that the FAC and I have been dealing with for the past couple of years and BCFS still can’t get it right. More later.

Meeting with the Feds

I will be meeting with the Minister responsible for DFO and Coast Guard (Hunter Tootoo) as early as this week. Just waiting for my appointment date. I will be discussing all coastal issues with him such as, closure of CCG Radio Stations, re-commitment to keep staff on light stations, addition of staff to our underfunded DFO science and enforcement personnel, commitment to marine planning for our coasts, and last but certainly not least, Federal support for BC Ferries. This was an election issue for the Fed. Liberals and I intend to remind them of it as often as possible.

Meeting with the Province

I have also had a very good couple of meetings with the provincial Minister for local governments (Peter Fassbender) and will be meeting with him first thing in the new year. He has committed to me to advocate to other Ministers and the Cabinet for issues that are not necessarily in his mandate. He is OUR Minister and should be our advocate. He agrees and will be talking with other Ministers on all issues that effect communities, ferries being a big one. He will be meeting with the same Fed.Minister that I will be meeting with. He will also be helping out on things like our lack of connectivity and a whole list of other issues. I am very hopeful and have a good relationship with all of his senior staff.

Highways and flooding

I spent many days dealing with the last series of storms with Emcon at all three of their levels, with the Ministry of Transportation and with the Emergency Services folks here and at the Regional District. What a mess! The underfunding by the provincial government has finally effected the Ministry’s ability to properly resource the contractor (Emcon) and they are down to one full time staff member and one very part time worker. The lack of maintenance has finally come back to haunt us. Shoulders (aprons) not being cleaned off (graded) has caused roads to become rivers and channel water into places it should not be going, such as driveways and side roads, causing extensive damage. Culverts that have not been cleaned out or replaced with larger volume units are causing ditches to overflow and once again cause damage. I will be bringing this issue to our Minister and to the Minister for Transportation. We need help! We didn’t even have a stash of sandbags on the island when they were needed most. Thanks to Emergency Services volunteers and the Regional District we finally got a supply on day two. I was at the various scenes to assess the severity of the situation prior to getting hold of all of the agencies mentioned above. We need some serious rethinking of how our roads are maintained. Our one-man crew does his best but he can only do so much and only drive one piece of machinery at a time. I commend him for trying so hard under difficult circumstances.

School District update

There was a lot of activity around the proposed Facilities Planning proposed by the School District Administration. It caused a lot of confusion in the community and caused a lot of meetings to be held. I attended them since schools are not just a School District issue. They effect our community and all of the issues that I am responsible for. Our Trustee attended some off those meetings to help clear up some of the misconceptions caused by wording in the document and lack of meaningful consultation written right in the document. The Regional District wrote under my signature as the Chair of the SRD, to the School District to ask for amendments to the recommendations of the report to the SD Board. I also presented at the School Board Trustees meeting on Dec. 8th. There was no problem and the trustees willingly and happily granted the requests of the SRD and the community to add those few words regarding community consultation in the event of any changes to our schools, region wide. Our primary concern was of course, Surge Narrows and Quadra schools. So I hope that they are satisfied that they can get on with their review process and we can breathe a sigh of relief for now.

Hydro truck on Quadra!

After a number of years, with many iterations of placing a truck on Quadra full time, Hydro has agreed to build a structure to house a full size, fully equipped truck on a small piece of land that they own in the Cove. This is such an incredible win for us and for them. No waits in the ferry line ups and worries about getting over if the ferry stops sailing. So we should have great service once this project is complete. I have been working with some incredible, community-minded senior managers at BC Hydro to make this happen and I would like to commend them for their commitment to our community. I hope that every time you pass a hydro truck that is working on our power lines and a person is on the road waving you by, that you will put down your window and give them a warm Quadra Island “Thank You!!!!” Your greeting and appreciation will help to keep them warm in the lousy weather they have to work in!

Lunches

I had the pleasure of attending a packed hall at the Legion for the annual OAP seniors luncheon. It was wonderful affair with Christmas Carols, live music and fantastic food. We have such an incredible group of seniors on this island and they always pull together a great day for their members and guests! The food was great with choices for all palates and dietary needs and all done by volunteer labour.

I will be attending the annual Christmas Community Lunch, which has turned into such an incredible community event over the years. The Centre is usually standing room only and provides a good opportunity to speak with people you might not otherwise get the opportunity to visit with. My compliments to the Quadra Island Recreation Society, the staff and all the volunteers that make this work so perfectly every year.

I will attend the Discovery Islands Chamber of Commerce event this Thursday where some very special awards will be presented to some very special people that this island can not do without. I am really looking forward to their public acknowledgement for all that they do for us, every day.

SRD elections

The SRD annual elections were held on Thursday, Dec. 10th. Mayor John MacDonald of Sayward was elected chair. The Board is looking at an Electoral Area Director for two years and a Municipal Director for two years to make things fair. I have done my two years. I was elected as Vice Chair and will still represent the Board on all of the outside committees that I have been a part of, including the Coastal BC Ferries Chairs Group. It was a pleasure and an honour representing the Board over the past two years and I will continue to work with the new chair to promote all of our issues at higher levels.

That is about it for now, so I will see you around during the holidays and write again in the new year. Feel free to contact 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!

Respectfully submitted,