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General · 21st December 2016
Jim Abram
’Tis the season! First of all, I would like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas / Happy Holiday season. I hope that you will all have a joyous time with family and friends and have a safe and Happy New Year!

It has been quite an eventful two weeks since the last report with all of the snow and issues generated by it. What ever happened to having a nice snowfall and just being able to enjoy it? I spent hours each day on the phone dealing with the problems caused by the snow. It seems I am the “clearing house” for road issues. As I have mentioned in numerous reports prior to this one, please call the people actually responsible for the road work at Emcon at 250-285-3524 or call the central line at 1-866-353-3136. They can actually get through to the workers in the trucks by radio to deal with your specific items. All I can do is follow that process for you and pass on the message. You should also call you MLA to let her know, so she has the documentation to present at the provincial level of Highways, since this is all under their jurisdiction. Emcon did a lot of work and worked long hours even if you think they didn’t do as good of a job as was necessary. Until they are properly resourced, you can expect conditions to remain the same. According to today’s forecast we just might get some white stuff on Christmas Eve! May you all have clear driveways for Christmas for safe passage by friends and family! You have to admit, that as much of a pain as the snow might be, it is very beautiful and part of living where we do. Enjoy it if (and while) you can!

I was unable to attend the OAP luncheon due to SRD meetings in Campbell River but did manage to make it to the Quadra Circle Lunch on the 16th. We also attended the Quadra Community Lunch on Wed. the 14th. It was a totally full house with the extra rooms down the hall needing to be used also to be able to seat people. My warm thanks to all of the volunteers who manage to pull off such a huge meal with such great food and thanks to all of the contributing businesses for their generosity.

I have a whole list of upcoming events to deal with but will just touch on a few of them. We have our Electoral Area Committee meeting and SRD Board meeting on Jan. 11th; an all day, intense meeting on the 13th, called a Community to Community Forum, to discuss the recent proposal that you have probably been reading about in the CR papers, regarding the Addition to Reserve in the area south of CR (Area D); then a trip to Vancouver to meet with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation on the 16th / 17th, along with a few of my UBCM colleagues; a meeting of the Federal DFO Aquaculture Management Advisory Committee, once again in Vancouver on the 23rd and 24th; another SRD Board meeting on the 26th; and then the UBCM electoral Area Forum on the 30th and 31st in Vancouver (mentioned later in this report). So January is already looking pretty full. But feel free to call me any time!

Quathiaski Cove Sewer Extension Project

I would like to update you on a number of projects that are on the go (as dry as the topics may seem). As an islander, you need to know what is going on. Please bear with me.

On October 3, 2016 the Extension project, under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, received a grant ($1.4 Million) that I mentioned in previous reports - Nov. 7th) that has enabled the Quathiaski Cove Sewer Extension project to be completed. Without this grant we would not be able to proceed. I had to move mountains to get this to happen and it took many months of frustration, meetings with various Ministers, lobbying both the Provincial and Federal govt. and a lot of “discussion” at the staff level of the SRD. I am extremely pleased with the result and I want to share that excitement with you.
The Quathiaski Cove Sewer Extension Project Invitation to Tender has been submitted to the following media sources and will be published accordingly:

· City of Campbell River Mirror – published on Wednesday, December 21, 2016
· Discovery Islander – published on Friday, December 23, 2016
· BC Bid site – today
· SRD website – today
· Vancouver Construction Association – published next week

The tender period is from Monday, December 19, 2016 closing at 2:00 pm on Thursday, January 19, 2017

This project has been going forever it seems.. (but only a few years!). As an update for those effected:
Now that the supporting bylaws have been updated the Regional District is in a position to launch the re-tendering process and uphold the proposed project schedule (below) that will be regularly updated on the Strathcona Regional District website (http://www.strathconard.ca/engineering-services).

Proposed time frames and Project milestones:

Status update to affected property owners

The letters providing a project update and schedule have been mailed to all property owners in the Sewer District.

Project webpage: http://www.strathconard.ca/engineering-services

The recent webpage update, now includes the project schedule included in the letters. As progress is made with the project, the arrow marking at which project stage we are currently at, will be moved down. As more schedule details become available, more information will be added to it and the project webpage will be updated accordingly.

Tender process
Week of December 19, 2016 :
Publish tender documents
Week of January 16, 2017
Week of January 23, 2017: Close invitation to tender Evaluation of tender submissions
February 8, 2017
Electoral Areas Services Committee:
February 23, 2017: Awarding the tender
Week of February 27, 2017 Week of March 6, 2017: Regional District Board Finalizing agreement with contractor Executing the agreement
Week of March 20, 2017: Construction commences

The grant funding has allowed the capital cost contribution from each of the project property owners, who have properties included in this first phase of the sewer extension, will be held at the original $9,100 ceiling per property.

If you have any questions regarding the project, please contact the Regional District’s Operations Engineer, Patti Wells, at pwellsstrathconard.ca, or by phone at 250-830-6700.

Upcoming UBCM forum for Electoral Area Directors (and, yes, Ferries! Food security, Economic development and job creation)

I started a conversation with some of the growers / producers on southern Vancouver Island while on the UBCM Agriculture tour that was held at our Convention in Victoria in September. The “conversation” regarding transportation costs grew rapidly and I subsequently had many conference calls with various producers of food, flowers, meat, cider, fish products, etc. After hearing their interest and stories about the impediments to sustaining viable food production and their connections to other parts of the province (provision of goods and equipment from all over the province), I decided to call Peter Larose (the consultant who did our excellent UBCM 2014 report on the impact of BC Ferry fare increases .. It is still getting media coverage today!) to see what he thought and if he might be interested in helping out in the way of doing another impact study to quantify these concerns.

So what does this have to do with ferries, you ask? Well, it turns out that the biggest impediment to food security, economic development and job creation in their sector is the high cost and structure of BC Ferries. And it is a two way transportation cost, which ties in the other parts of the province. The Egg marketing board and the Milk marketing board are interested in being part of the conversation… they are province wide and national!

Peter is going to do a short prospectus and distribute to me. I will distribute it to the participants and to you. (I am reviewing it today)

I managed to get the UBCM Executive to make this a priority issue at an upcoming province-wide forum in Vancouver at the end of this month. We will have a panel of people speaking to the issue. Since I suggested the topic I have been tasked with helping to put it all together. The growers agreed that they will have a person ready to be on our panel. So, one problem solved from my perspective.

I am asking the preliminary question of UBCM if they can entertain a small contribution since this is a topic that has a provincial impact. The participants have offered to help fund the costs. I am also going to take this to the Coastal Ferry Chairs (of which I am a member) to see if they will join in and to the First Nations Summit who have committed to supporting our work on the ferry issue generally.

The gist of the study, as I understand it, will be to let govt. know of the problem, give them time to ponder it leading up to the election, and allow them time to suggest some solution. The report is by no means a direct attack on government, but should be quite the wake up call concerning the economy of the province. The coastal growers contribute roughly 20% (possibly more) of the food production of the province. I can’t wait to see the numbers from the consultant! They could be as significant as the numbers in the last report that he did.

So for those of you who thought that the ferry issue has quieted down, think again. It has just gone underground and will soon resurface in plenty of time for the next election. The govt. and BCFS are doing everything they can to generate nothing but positive media in these months leading up to the election. Our food producers and processors are being hugely impacted by the outrageous ferry costs that they have to pay to get their products to market. This is threatening the viability of small to medium size farming’s future. This effects our local island shipping of products as much as it does the rest of the big island. We’ll see what we can do to fix that !

So, once again, have a wonderful Holiday Season and I’ll see you around! Please follow me on FaceBook for information between reports. I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It takes up so much of my time! Anyway, 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!

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Abram