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General · 31st March 2016
Jim Abram
Sorry I was unable to write a report a few weeks ago, but just far too busy. It is not much better this time but I have to keep in touch! In the next three weeks, besides this morning, I have one day to myself. All the rest are booked for Regional District business. Details to follow.

So, from the last reporting period I will mention a few items of interest and add some details:

Meeting follow up
In my last report of Feb. 29th, I mentioned that I had met with our Local Govt. Minister, Peter Fassbender, in Victoria along with his entire senior staff. I then met with senior staff the next day on the same topics. The key person who was to get back to me is on holiday until tomorrow, so I can’t give final details, but I can say that we should be hearing about our previously refused grant applications for Q. Cove sewer, Quadra Island Community Centre seismic upgrade, information on seniors housing and connectivity, and of course, ferries! So by next issue I should be able to give you some more up to date info.

I can tell you that because of that meeting, our Board has now agreed to reapply for the sewer and seismic grants, as instructed by the Minister. Hard to believe, but they were reluctant to do so due to a couple of city Directors. I did manage to win the support of the Board to proceed.

Meeting with Minister Stone and RD Chair’s Ferries Working Group
I mentioned that our Coastal RD Chairs Ferries WorkingGroup was about to be notified of a time for our meeting with the Minister. (The Coastal Regional District Chairs working group, which now includes the First Nations Summit due to the resolution that we put through their Annual General meeting, which passed unanimously, to support Local Govt.) Our meeting date has been set for April 4th in Victoria and the Chairs Group will meet prior to that time to strategize. Hopefully this meeting will bring some results that will actually help us out as ferry dependent communities. I always remain hopeful!

Shoreline accesses
I have spoken of this previously in numerous reports. We finally finished all of the mapping and cataloguing last Thursday. Prioritizing is the next step and then the ones that are to be marked so people can make better use of them will get a small, tasteful sign erected. This has been a long time coming and was looked at a few years ago and then with a change of staffing, got dropped. We picked it up this past year and started over with the use of GPS and lots of other technology. It is probably best that we waited since the finished project will now be far better.

Dog Bylaw update
I have mentioned this in many reports also, but we have now finally gotten to a place that I believe it will be acceptable to Quadra, tailored to Quadra needs and not just another “urban bylaw”. The issue came to our last meeting on Thursday and the Board gave direction to proceed with setting up a service. This is step one. It only establishes that we may have the service. Then the actual bylaw will come forward with all the details for everyone to see. Staff have been very accommodating in bringing this back time and time again each time that I have told them that this is not what we need on Quadra. I think they have finally got it!

Budget and Work Plan for 2016/17 (and beyond)
We passed these two items at the Board. So that means our budget et al is adopted prior to the deadline of March 31st. This was an incredible amount of work and took many meetings outside off the regular Board and Committee meetings to deal with the details. I did everything in my power, as I always do, to keep our tax requisition as low as possible while still trying to provide the services that you ask for. There was a slight increase due to a number of issues, but I am not even going to try and translate that into how it will effect your tax bill, since the “translation” is never correct. So let’s wait and see. Our community needs are growing every year and we have to somehow pay for that increase. We now have staff that are much more tuned into applying for Grants from other sources than taxes, so hopefully that will help out.

Chief Administration Officer hiring (CAO)
As I have mentioned in past reports, I have been on the Select Committee for CAO Recruitment. After about a dozen meetings and many calls and emails, non-stop, we have a new CAO. His name is Dave Leitch and he started on March 1st and I have met with him many times since then to help him understand our communities and our needs, and by jove, I think he’s got it! I asked him to come to our Public Hearing on March 17th at Surge Narrows so that he could meet people from all of the outer islands. It was a good experience for him and we had about 60 people show up at Surge Narrows, so it was very representative. That is a huge number for a hearing in the outer islands.

Q. Cove Sewer expansion
I am just going to slip in a brief word here on this ongoing issue. Now that we have our new CAO in place and he is completely conversant with what needs to be done to make this happen (did I mention he is also an engineer!?) and now that our grant is being re-looked at, we are getting very close to moving ahead. I am soooo pleased to finally get on with this and Dave is savvy on issues of this type, so I am forever hopeful!

Surge Narrows Public Hearing
This hearing was about an application on North Rendezvous Island. Since the Board will not deal with the issue until April 28th for disposition of the application, we, as Directors, cannot receive any information about the application until after that time. So, I can’t tell you a lot other than it happened and was well attended. As soon as we have dealt with it I will totally fill you in.

Pay Parking at Hospitals
I have mentioned my efforts to stop this stupid plan in previous reports and all I will say here is that the movement is gathering momentum province wide and I will continue to oppose it for the sake of our patients and the staff that work at the hospitals. I hope that all of you will take a minute to write the Minister of Health to lodge your disgust with this money grab.

Monstrosity on Back Road

I am not sure how many of you have seen the “renovation” that the Ministry of Transportation has done at the intersection of Cape Mudge RD. and Joyce Rd., but if you have not, please have a look! The problem that was conveyed to Highways and Emcon via the Safety Council and myself was about poor visibility to the south on Cape Mudge Rd. when entering from Joyce Rd. All that needed to be done was remove one tree and clear some low brush. (a few hours work) The solution that the engineers came up with was, let’s move the stop sign out farther into the roadway and then put in three six feet long bright yellow, and two four foot long “no-Post” barriers (you know, those massive concrete barriers?) to now protect the sign post!!! The barriers narrowed Joyce Road so much that two cars did not fit on the road and one would drive right up the barrier if they tried to use the road at the same time.

I called and arranged for the Area Manager of the Ministry of Transportation to meet with me immediately after this installation. (She is very good to work with). She came up and we spent a long, on-site visit, having a “chat” about the stupidity of this “solution”. She even tried to drive it and found it was impossible, so graciously agreed that they needed to do something. The “something" that their “rule book” gives is still stupid! So I have asked her to please go back to Engineering and see if we can start over. The local woodlot owner had kindly offered to take down the one tree blocking the view. Emcon has offered to do all the clearing of the brush !

Federal help with coastal issues
I have a conference call arranged for 2:30 tomorrow, March 29th, with MP’s from this coast who have influence in Ottawa to deal with a number of issues. First of all is the bad decision to give BCFS $51million as “waiver of tariffs” for ships to be built off shore! This will not translate into lower fares. We will also be talking about the closure plans by CCG for the Comox Radio and Traffic Centre scheduled for March 31st. I am hoping that this plan can be stopped cold! The other station at Tofino (Ucluelet) needs to be reopened (already been closed) as was demonstrated by events around the tragic sinking of the Leviathan whale watching vessel in October. The continuing staffing of our Lightstations is also on the agenda. We have a written confirmation from the previous Federal government that staff will remain on the Lights and I want the same from this government. All it takes is a simple letter of re-affirmation. To say I am nervous would be an understatement with so much riding on this call. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Miscellaneous meetings, etc.
I will meet with the Quadra Island Conservancy tomorrow night to get further ideas regarding a recreation area around Morte Lake and the surrounding area. The Board has accepted this investigation as part of this year’s work plan!

Interspersed throughout the month there will be more Board and Committee meetings and some meetings of the Comox Valley Regional District and the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District. Some I will need to miss some of these due to the other meetings out of town. I have already arranged for my able Alternate Director to attend in my place and he will represent you well.

I will be attending the Nuyumbalees Art Auction on April 2nd to help them raise funds for the Cultural Centre that we are so lucky to have on this island. I hope to see you there. Great food, entertainment and fabulous art.

Right after I return from the meeting with Minister Stone, I will then travel to Nanaimo for the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities for three days of intensive meetings, workshops, presentations and networking. The work that comes out of our resolutions sessions will then be passed on to UBCM and the government.

I return home and re-pack for my annual UBCM “Advocacy Days” meeting of the Executive in Victoria where we will meet with up to 20 Ministers and many more staff as an entire Executive of UBCM. This is where we put on the “full court press” to get what we need for Local Govt. We meet all day and evening for three days straight. Exhausting but necessary if we want to get anything done!

On April 25th and 26th I will be attending the Marine Area Planning Partnership Implementation meeting in Campbell River. As you know, I have been the Board appointee on this Provincial / First Nations initiative for the past four years, along with stakeholders from all other interests. This is now entering the implementation stage, where “the rubber hits the road”. How will this effect our communities and what will it mean for each of us? There will be ads up soon about the meeting.

Then there is another Board meeting on April 28th. It really never ends. I also will be dealing with all of your emails and phone calls and posting a number of times per day on FaceBook, mostly regarding ferries. If you have not visited my site, please do, because I post the most up to date media and related information on the ongoing battle with government and with BCFS. This all effects you and your life on the islands, so have a look. (address below)

Ok.. That is it. I have run out of day! Feel free to contact me between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday (please, not on weekends or holidays, 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,

Jim Abram