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General · 15th June 2017
Jim Abram
Hello to everyone on this incredibly beautiful day! I will be spending most of it sitting at my desk writing this report and taking the occasional look out my window at the sun in the trees! But there is a lot to report on and I want you to feel informed.

Mayday

I would first of all like to give a belated congratulations to all participants and organizers in our annual Mayday festivities. Since I didn’t do a report two weeks ago, I missed out on that opportunity to congratulate. It is so wonderful to see this tradition carry on year after year with so much enthusiasm. it was a beautiful day and a good time was had by all, I am sure.

Rebecca Spit Park road

It was wonderful to see that the Parks Ministry finally fulfilled their obligation to grade the road prior to the parade. It was about time! They have fallen further and further behind on maintenance each year and hopefully under whatever government comes out in the wash next week, we will get improved service in the future ! They even had the nerve to suggest that we as a community should partner with them to provide this service (in other words, help pay for it). Sorry, but it is a Provincial responsibility and we should not accept any further downloading of costs or responsibilities. We already pay through our Provincial taxes for this simple chore. We have enough on our plates as it is!

I would like to say to our community, however, that if you want the road to remain in good condition for a longer period, then please treat the road surface better by slowing down to "Dead Slow”. You may think you are going slow, but on a dry day, just look in your rear view mirror and see the cloud of road dust that you are kicking up. And all of that dust is part of the road surface, so try and keep it there. Not to mention all of the people on the beach and the walkers / bikers that are being forced to eat that dust as you pass. Be courteous and conserve our road surface. If you can see a cloud behind you, you are going too fast! Simple rule of the road. (end of lecture)

Connectivity Revisited

I am going to reprint below the part of my report from May 15th that I am not sure very many of you read. For years, I have been working on trying to get good internet and cell coverage for our islands. I have been to countless sessions with Ministers, ministry staff, Telus, Shaw, CRTC, Network BC and our own providers to try and improve coverage. I have had some successes over the years bringing ADSL internet to the Cove area in the mid ’90’s and better cell coverage in the past 5 years. But none of it has been what we really needed. So through our Board I helped to make “connectivity” a Strategic Priority and the Board started to put some money into it including hiring a hot-shot consultant that does this for a living and is very successful. Our community has lobbied me continuously.. continuously… to lobby for the provision of better service. Even though this is not a local govt. service, I have done what you have asked. It has been all-consuming. So now we are looking at making it a local govt - run service.

My point is that I went to a lot of trouble to bring you up to speed on the fantastic movement that is being made in the way of providing world class internet and cell service right to your door. I have been working with our local provider who has been totally involved. I reported in the info below where we are at and I expected someone to comment in the last issues of our local media. There was not one peep from anyone. Nada! Did anyone read the info? I thought (obviously wrongly) that this would be the news item of the year. So here it is again.

And I can add that since I wrote this in May we (SRD) have applied for two more grants that have become available to extend service and make it even more affordable. I will continue to assume that our community wants these services and I will continue to advocate on your behalf to get them.. So please have a read (or re-read) of the following:

(beginning of reprint) "Connectivity / Cell coverage and more

Just the topic everyone is waiting to hear about and I have not been able to adequately report on due to it being dealt with in confidence at the SRD Board table. It has been so very frustrating to have people think that nothing was going on when I knew that behind the scenes we were working our backsides off. Many staff, our consultant and I have had this on the front burner for months and I have been working on connectivity in general since 1993 when I got the ADSL in the Cove central area. I later managed to hound Telus enough to get them to put their equipment on the Cantel / Rogers tower at Noble and Heriot Bay Rd. to improve the area covered and with a higher level of coverage being LTE in some parts. This has been a slow never ending battle, but one I chose to fight to the end and am still continuing on your behalf.

I met with the Discovery Islands Chamber of Commerce and others some months ago and some have finally picked up on trying to gather support from Telus to increase coverage through a petition and letters as I suggested. I am confident that this effort will at least show the ever increasing need for better connectivity of all sorts, but what Telus does with it is anyone’s guess! I will certainly use the info in my lobbying efforts and it is so important that whatever people are doing, they forward it to me for use… letters, petitions or whatever!.

I would caution everyone that the petition and letters, though asking for improved coverage, will require a number of very expensive cell towers and will never reach all of the nooks and crannies on the island’s topography. It just isn’t possible, so don’t expect a perfect world. Some areas will never have cell service back in the areas that it is being sought for… Also remember this “ask” will be subject to public (neighbourhood) scrutiny, and the willingness of the companies to spend the huge amounts of money to put in such a network if it is even possible in our terrain …

The following is the latest email that I rec’d from Telus regarding my hounding them for better service. I have only included the first portion as the rest would require his permission:

"Jim
I continue to look for opportunities to get Quadra included in the programs. Over the past few years the transport, xDLS infrastructure, and cell services have upgraded and I have been cyclically inserting requests to the planners of the fibre and cellular build programs. I hope to have some additional details in a few weeks. I’ll get you an update when I get the info back from the planners on my most recent ask.
Cheers,
(Telus Manager)"

And now on to the the news that I have kept you hanging on about!

SRD moves on its strategic priority to improve broadband connectivity in the Region

The SRD has also made a significant application to the Connect to Innovate Program. This is a $500 Million federal funding program aimed at improving broadband connectivity for rural and remote communities. The application put forward by the SRD is for a new subsea fibre-optic network with the potential to benefit many coastal communities within the region and beyond. If successful, this fully-funded ‘back-bone’ infrastructure will deliver high speed broadband to landing points in eligible coastal communities (that would be ( “US” ). Internet service providers can access these ‘points of presence’ to provide improved service to residents, institutions and businesses through local distribution networks. Applications closed on April 20th and funding announcements are expected later this year. We are told that we are on the top of the list and this will allow us to remove ourselves from the Telus network and be on one that is run by the SRD, most likely. The cost will be far less and it will actually be available!

Improvements and upgrades to ‘last-mile’ or local distribution networks owned and operated by ISP’s (Independent Service Providers) are also being contemplated. Through the provincial Strategic Priorities Fund, the SRD will be submitting an application for capital improvement projects nominated by local ISPs. Applications for this program close on June 1st. This will include out local providers and will allow high-speed fibre-optic and cable connectivity to all of our residents. This is what is meant by “last mile”. There is the “backbone” (undersea fibre) and there is the “last mile” (the delivery to your door”).

It is important to note here that the Board came up with three eligible projects for this funding but the funding program only allowed for two projects to be submitted. This is where I had to do my work at the Board table and convince the Board that the two that would be applied for would be for Strathcona Gardens and for Broadband Connectivity. The third project was for a long-standing Area D water project I felt horrible having to deny support to Area D, but we do have to make tough decisions and this was one that I could not let slip by. We “discussed” as a Board at length and when the vote was taken, we won!
So the two applications will go in and provide sufficient money to deal with the “last mile” connections. Phew!

This is so very exciting and brings autonomy to so many communities along the coast and around Vancouver Island. There is so much more that I have to tell you about this but it has not yet been released to the public. As soon as it is I will be free to share it with you. I hope this is all considered good news and you will continue to support my efforts at the Board and Provincial level to improve our service.” (end of re-print)

Road repairs

I have seen a lot of postings on FaceBook about how great the Highways Dept is doing because they repaved a few spots on Quadra. Sorry folks, but those were specific jobs that Tayco paving was contracted to do. Our Ministry of Highways (not to be confused with Emcon Services) has neglected our island for so long it is pitiful. We were due for a major road "renewal” at least ten years ago and we never got it, constantly being “bumped" by other communities. I understand from Emcon that we are still due for some paving under the supervision of the Min. of Highways in the near future.

We still have more serious potholes than one can count and aprons that need grading, ditches that need cleaning and brush that needs cutting. These items are a topic at every Safety Council meeting that I attend and yet we are still waiting. Your calls to the Ministry and to the head office of Emcon in Campbell River just might give our local crews the tools they need to fix our roads. The potholes are now "tire-poppers" and "axle breakers". Unacceptable! Make the calls!

Golf Course Public Hearing - June 21st

I have been getting daily calls and emails about this proposal and it will go to Public Hearing on the 21st at 7pm at the Quadra Island Community Centre. (see the notice elsewhere in the DI and the Gumboot). The Hearing will continue until everyone has had an opportunity to speak and I have informed the SRD staff and Directors that they may need to spend the night. We will not be shutting down to facilitate the staff catching the last ferry. If we did that we would have to adjourn the hearing and come back on another night to continue. This is not fair to the community nor the applicants. I know there are many opinions out there and the Public Hearing is the place to express them. Letters should also be sent to the SRD to jneillstrathconard.ca prior to 4:30 pm on the 21st if they are to be included in the Hearing process. No submissions will be accepted after the Hearing and the Directors will not be able to talk about the proposal with anyone until it has gone to the Board two weeks or so later.

Planning workshop for Q. Cove

As many of you know, we put a Local Area Plan in place as part of our Official Community Plan a few years ago. Part of the area being planned is the treed 26 acres south of the Library. The property was purchased and the owners and others are actively in the process of soliciting views through workshops on the island. A three day event was just held this past week and I had the pleasure of attending the last day (I was in Board meetings the other two days). It was great experience to see the youthful vigour that is present in the group that is heading this up and they are using the core principles that were developed with the entire island over a three year period in creating the Local Area Plan. All the good things like affordable housing, rental housing, sustainable living, walkable community, etc., etc., and many more very exciting ideas for job creation and education are part of this discussion. There will be more on this in the future, but I wanted you to know that the work that we did on the Local Area Plan is not dead nor on a shelf!

Upcoming commitments, etc.

I will be attending another MaPP meeting (Marine Area Planning Partnership) on the 16th and another one near the end of the month to discuss our very important marine issues. The is the Provincial and First Nations process that I have been part of for at least eight years.

I will also be attending another PNCIMA (Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area) meeting on the 19th and 20th in Vancouver. This process is Federal and is dealing with how to spend the $1.5 Billion that the Feds committed to the Oceans Protection Plan. I have been part of this process for about the same amount of time and we are now finally dealing with the details of implementation.

Next week will be more Board meetings and Committee meetings and on the 11th through the 20th I have the UBCM Executive meeting in Richmond.

I am hoping to take some time for myself and my family while we have a bit of summer to enjoy all the things I have spent so many years trying to protect in Area C and elsewhere on our coast. Fishing, boating, hiking, kayaking, camping locally, gardening, etc., are all going to fill some of my days. That may mean that I pass on doing a report now and then and that I might not get right back to you on your emails and phone calls. Hopefully you will understand. We have so little good weather in the course of the year and then it is time to prepare for winter, which will also take up some of my time, putting gardens to bed, cutting firewood and battening down the hatches. I know you all get it!

In the meantime, 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