So here we go! Another year begins and this one came in with more typical January weather of snow and more snow and below freezing temperatures! Except for having to get around in it over the holidays, it really is beautiful. For those of you having issues with road maintenance, (from my Christmas Report…) "What ever happened to having a nice snowfall and just being able to enjoy it? 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.” Comments regarding maintenance are being gathered by the Ministry and the person to contact is Kevin Carter, kevin.cartergov.bc.ca
Now it is time to get back to work, though it seems there was always something that needed dealing with over the holidays. The SRD office was closed from Christmas through New Year’s, so that helped cut down on some of the emails, calls and meetings.
On Jan. 3rd, I took part in a planning forum with the Quadra Island Seniors Housing Group to deal with the new seniors facility that will be built on the property behind the Pharmacy that they purchased. This was the result of a BC Housing Grant that the seniors group managed to procure and will allow for approximately 16 units of available seniors housing for low to middle income seniors. Varying levels of care will be available and hopefully achieve its goal of allowing our local seniors to age in place and not have to move off the island, leaving family and friends behind. We worked through a process with the architect that they have hired and about a dozen participants and listed desirable features for the facility. The architect will take those ideas and return to another meeting on January 18th to receive further input. We are hoping the process will move along as quickly as is practical. Rezoning will be required and compliance with the Q. Cove Village Plan, so there will be lots of details that need to be dealt with in the process. I hope to be able to help get this to the planners, the Board and the community as soon as possible. There will be a public hearing required in the next months. There is a lot of energy being put into this but it is not something that can be rushed. It needs to be done right, as this will be one of the first re-zonings within the Village Plan guidelines.
I then jumped on the ferry after that meeting to meet with the Chief of the Cape Mudge Band at their Quinsam Reserve office, along with their Band manager, to discuss a very exciting project that may be on the horizon. (I have mentioned this before) The Cape Mudge Village is being considered for inclusion in the Q. Cove sewer infrastructure and we needed to have a discussion about how this might work if we are to proceed. We are planning further meetings with myself, the Chief, his staff and our SRD staff in the near future. This project, if it proceeds, will be an incredible example of First Nations working together with local government and the community to provide a needed service and to improve the overall service for all property owners on the sewer system. It is one of the first joint ventures of many that we are talking about working on with the Band. This is a total win / win situation for all people and will be brought to the public as soon as we have more details. I must stress that no commitments have been made. We have only agreed to look at the feasibility and explore funding options from other levels of government. If this were to go through, the annual operating cost of the sewer system would go down considerably for all members on the system.
With regard to the above, I will be meeting with Min. John Rustad, (the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs provincially) on Monday Jan. 16th and soliciting his support for this joint venture. I have been speaking with his office for the past few weeks and was assured today that we should be able to meet. I have a meeting with him on that same day in Vancouver on UBCM business, so I believe it will be possible to tag this on to that meeting. I will find out for sure tomorrow.
We have Committee and Board meetings on the 11th and I am sure there will be no end of surprises there. I have to read all of my agendas today and see what is in store for me.
On the 12th, I will finally be meeting with the School District staff along with our staff regarding the acquisition of the SD property at Stuart Island that we have been trying to acquire for community purposes for so many years. The Stuart Island Community Association has been situated on that land for many, many years. It only make sense to transfer the unused school property to the SRD for a nominal amount. After a number of years of trying I finally received confirmation from the Minister himself that they were now wiling to talk to us about a purchase that we could afford (free would be nice). Prior to that they wanted fair market value which was around a half million dollars! A bit out of our reach, for sure! So we will see how that goes.
The very next day, the 13th, we will be having a forum called a Community to Community Forum with the Tlowitsis First Nation (Campbell River area based) regarding relationship building between their band and the SRD. This is a program that I had the pleasure of helping to initiate in the late 1990’s along with the First Nations Summit and other UBCM executive members. The intention is to bring groups together to try and resolve issues of common concern outside of the Treaty process, since Treaties were (and still are) taking so long to put in place. The forums have been hugely successful province wide and we are now taking advantage of it in the SRD. As you may have read in the local media, there is an Addition to Reserve (ATR) proposal in Area D. This is a Federal / First Nations proposal and our forum is not part of that process, but is about building relationships. There will be a public forum held in the very near future to deal with the community issues concerning the (ATR) proposal.
I did mention in my previous report that I would then be attending "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. So January is already looking pretty full.” I won’t go into those meetings again right now. I’ll let you know how they went after they are completed!
So that is about it for now. Have to get at those agendas! 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!