Island News & Views
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General · 9th February 2017
Jim Abram
I thought we had a lot of snow accumulation already and now it is snowing again as I write! Will it ever stop? I hope everyone has been able to stay warm indoors as much as possible and avoid travel. I am very pleased that BC Hydro has restored power to the few areas that were out, so quickly. A sincere thanks to our road crews for working at keeping up with the weather. Lets hope it lets up soon so everyone can take a breath! This series of events is a good reminder to us that Mother Nature is always in control. But I do have to say it is extremely beautiful out there!

Cape Mudge Band Council elections
I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Chief Brian Assu on his re-election as Chief of the Cape Mudge Band and congratulations to all of the other successful Councillors. I look forward to developing our relationship and to working together on future projects.

Seniors' Housing
My congratulations to the seniors groups for coming together and bringing to our island a 16 unit development in the Cove to allow for seniors to stay on our beautiful island and not have to move to other centres to find suitable housing. I have attended two of the planning meetings with the larger group and will attend another one in the near future. There will also be an open Public Meeting on Saturday, February 18th, at the Community Centre from 1pm to 3pm to fill you in on the details of the project. This is all very exciting and is being done with the help of a BC Housing grant. This adds one more amenity to our island and will be an example to others that volunteers can move mountains when they work together.

School District meeting
My meeting on Jan. 12th with our staff and the School District went extremely well. Our Trustee, Susan Wilson, also attended. They are willing to work with us on the purchase of surplus properties that we have been trying to get for a number of years. The time is finally right and we are moving forward. I have a meeting with the Ministry staff and our staff on Feb. 13th. They are the people who will determine the terms of the agreement. It could be in the form of a lease or purchase for a nominal fee. We just don’t know at this point, but will soon. I’ll keep you informed.

Community to Community Forum
We had a well attended introductory meeting with the Tlowitsis First Nation under the provisions of the Community to Community Forum program that was set up when I was last on the Executive of the UBCM in the late 1990’s. It is a province wide program that puts local governments in the same room with local First Nations to discuss items that are outside of the Treaty process to foster relationship building. The Tlowitsis are in the process of applying for an addition to reserve in Area D of the SRD under the Federal process that they need to follow. This forum was to try to get to know each other a little better, not to discuss the specific proposal. It went very well and further meetings will be held in the community affected by the proposal in the near future.

Meeting with Minister Rustad
I attended a meeting with Minister Rustad, the Minister responsible for First Nations issues provincially, on Jan 16th, in Vancouver. This was a meeting with a number of our UBCM Executive members to discuss our Memorandum of Understanding with the Province regarding Treaty issues. I took the opportunity to meet separately with his Deputy Minister and Asst. Deputy Minister, as approved by the Minister, regarding my discussions with the Chief of the Cape Mudge Band. We have been discussing bring the Cape Mudge Village into the Quathiaski Cove sewer system. This would benefit the village residents and the local sewer district by adding approximately 65 connections to the system and thus lowering the annual operating cost for the participants. The Minister is going to write a letter of support that will be used in the next intake of grant applications to the infrastructure funding process. This is a Federal, Provincial and Local funding process and this letter will help the Feds support the application.

Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District news
As you know, I have been fighting the province and the Vancouver Island Health Authority to stop their plans to charge pay parking at the two new hospitals that we have already paid 40% of the capital cost of through our taxes. I had made a motion at the previous meeting “ For the Board to support the Cities of Courtenay and Campbell River in an effort to prohibit by by-law, pay parking at these facilities”. That motion passed at that meeting and I asked for an update on the two by-laws from the two cities at the Jan. 19th meeting. They are both proceeding with the initiative. If the by-laws pass, pay parking will be prohibited!

Upcoming meetings
We have Committee and Board meetings on Feb. 8th, with numerous major items on the agenda! One will be the adoption of the 5 year financial plan. This early passage will allow us to move forward with many of the projects that need to be done throughout the SRD. Another will be the awarding of the Quathiaski Cove Sewer contract. The bids are in and the quotes are within the amount that I was able to get in the grant from the Feds and province. So, I am very pleased about that. The work should start in mid-March. Finally! We will also be dealing with the issue of my re-appointment to the Marine Area Planning Partnership (MaPP) which I have been on for the past number of years. A member of Campbell River was appointed due to their number of votes they have at the table and we have come up with some creative ways to allow them a representative and still allow me to be the SRD rep. This will all come to a head at this meeting. Coincidentally the MaPP meetings are scheduled for the same day and the day following our meetings. So I will be trying to be in two places at once and will manage it. This appointment is so important to our area and the entire coast. I need to be there.

Connectivity grants
The moment you have all been waiting for (me too!)… Also in the meetings coming up this week and the next couple in weeks to follow will be the report from our consultant on whether or not we will be the winner of the grant process for “backbone and last mile” connectivity.. that is high-speed internet! These grants are large and coming from the Feds and the province and I am excited since we are faring very well in the running. “A local supplier" will be the most likely here on our island to be awarded the funding or the SRD will become the supplier through contract. Many options. We still have a lot to do in the next month to make this happen, but the SRD and I are pulling all the stops!… Stay tuned!

OK.. That’s it.. got to go out and clear some more snow! 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