Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope you had a great weekend with family and friends. Even had a bit of sun!
This report is going to be a bit long due to missing the last one due to being at the Union of BC Municipalities Conference for eight days in Victoria. It was a very productive convention and the details will follow below. Hopefully you will get through it all!
First of all, I ran for the UBCM Executive again this year and I won! So I will spend another year on the Executive as a Director at Large. There are five of us. I am pleased because it will increase my advocacy effectiveness at the local and provincial level. With this being an election year, I was very keen to be on the Executive since we will have more opportunities to meet with Ministers and get things done. The campaign has already begun!
One of the highlights has a long story attached which I will try and summarize so as to hold your interest. It starts back at the beginning of the year when the Federal Liberals promised more funding for Infrastructure and at a higher level than in the past (now a 50% share instead of 1/3). UBCM jumped on that and we started the lobby effort to keep the provincial share at the 1/3 level. They wanted to reduce it and leave our share at 1/3. We lobbied 16 Ministers and the Premier and lots of MLA’s in Victoria in April and our efforts paid off. Our Minister announced on the last day of the convention that the Prov. Govt. had agreed to listen to UBCM and keep their 1/3 commitment. This reduced our contribution to about 17% instead of 1/3, saving all local governments huge amounts of money for projects.
I have two really good news stories for our community. Since we had an application turned down by the Province for the Quathiaski Cove sewer system last year we needed to reapply, which we did. However the application amount paled in light of the new program that came out this year. The Minister announced that all of the current applications would be “slid” into the new program and that meant that we were going to get more money for the project. I have lobbied the Minister and the Ministries for a number of years to help us out on this project. My efforts paid off with this announcement and we will receive $684,425.00 from the Feds and $451,720 from the Province for this project. Fantastic news! Almost $1.4 million in grant funding! Yahoo!
Part two of the good news is that we had planned to use a portion (about $500,000.00) of our Gas Tax money that I have squirrelled away in the bank for various projects over the past number of years and it will now not need to be used for the project and we will be able to keep it in reserve for other things as they come up (there are criteria that must be met for its use, so don’t get too excited!). So all together we got $1.9 million out of this exercise! Well worth all that went into it.
So this all means that the Request for Proposals to build the extension covering 47 properties can be issued probably by the first of the year and work will begin as soon as the weather cooperates and people will be able to hook up by early summer.
This is very exciting for those folks but also for the work that is taking place in the Cove on the current seniors housing project and the projected developments for the south end of the Cove. All will benefit.
The main thing that should excite the existing users of the system is that their annual operating cost should go down! I am hoping by quite a bit! I will have to fight with staff over that one!
The next really exciting part of all of this is that I am in discussions with the Chief of the Cape Mudge Band, Brian Assu, and will meet with his council very soon to discuss bringing the Cape Mudge Village onto the Q. Cove sewer system. The discussions have only been preliminary but need to be explored. This will be a big win for the village and also for the existing users: the more connections, the lower the annual rate. I am really looking forward to this part of the project since it will bring us all closer together as neighbours. I met with the Minister for Truth and Reconciliation while at UBCM and he was ecstatic to know that we are going to be working together and I am sure this will go a long way to having Provincial help in future matters.
We had a failed application for funding for a seismic upgrade to the Quadra Community Centre last year even though we have been told by the province that we needed to do it. I met with Ministries and Ministers on this in the past year with no success. The main reason this is so important, other than the obvious, is that the Community Centre is our Emergency Response Reception Centre. We have reapplied for the grant which could go as high as $500,000.00. While at UBCM I met with my good friend Minister Todd Stone (of Ferries fame). His Ministry is in charge of this file. I explained the dire situation to him and he was extremely receptive! (I almost died). He said “We need to take another look at this". He told me to be in touch when I got home from UBCM. So on Monday I sent an email to his office to get the process started. I got an email back the same day asking me to send a few lines describing the situation, which I did. I got an email reply the very next day (Tuesday) to say that they were working on setting up a meeting for me! Wow! Knock my socks off!. So as soon as I get a date, I will be heading to Victoria hoping for more money for Quadra!
I was also able to arrange a meeting with the BC Hydro brass about previous promises to put a Hydro truck on Quadra so that we can get service restored when there is a storm. The meeting went well but not with the outcome that I had expected. What I got was a commitment that they will watch their sophisticated weather forecasting network and any time there is a storm forecast, they will send trucks over early and let them wait it out, “just in case”. The reason given for the change was a huge cut to their budget. I also got a commitment to look at the “Truck on Quadra” (full time) option in three years when they expect to have more money in their budget. So, I guess it is better than nothing and should allow access by our emergency services on all roads since the Hydro truck can make sure it is safe for them to cross lines when they are down. This has been a concern in the past.
I would like to congratulate the Quadra RCMP for not only doing their job well in dealing with some of the thefts, etc. that have taken place lately, but for also doing an excellent job of communicating with the public on what they are up to. This is extremely important and much appreciated. It gives people facts and eliminates the “rumour mill” discussions. Good work, guys!
I will be attending the Surge Narrows Annual General Meeting on Saturday, October 15th. We have many issues to discuss concerning wharves, access and other concerns.
I also have Committee and Board meetings on the 12th, Comox Valley Solid Waste and Hospital District on the 13th and a meeting with Ministry staff and our staff over issues in Frederick Arm on the 14th, two days of meetings with the Provincial / First Nations Marine Area Planning Partnership on the 17th and 18th, a Public Hearing regarding Port Neville, held in Sayward, on the 26th a Board meeting on the 27th, etc., etc., etc.!
If you are still here, a concluding remark: feel free to contact me between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 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!