Island News & Views
Go to Site Index See "Island News & Views" main page
General · 14th August 2017
Jim Abram
A Happy BC Day (belated) to all of you, as smoky as it is. Let’s hope that by the time you read this the smoke will have passed and the fires will be fewer.

Tribal Journeys events
I had the honour of attending the Tribal Journeys canoe events at both Cape Mudge and in Campbell River this past Friday and Saturday. It was spectacular to say the least. Approximately 100 canoes representing various bands / tribes from our entire coastline and ones from as far as California and Alaska took part in the unbelievable journey by canoe using only paddles. They were hosted by indigenous groups along the way and ended up at Cape Mudge and finally in Campbell River. The stories of the paddlers as they each landed were amazing and then the welcoming by the drummers, singers and dancers was not only educational but very moving. There was food provided at both events and thousands partook. At the Campbell River event a special Potlach ceremony was also held with over a thousand people packed into the Big House where continuous drumming and dancing was performed by members from all of the various groups. Some dances had more than 50 people participating on the dirt floor at the same time. It was incredible to say the least and Wendy and I were honoured to be invited guests. The power and the togetherness of the Nations and the determination to keep their culture alive and vibrant was impressive to say the least.

If I had to convey one thought to you that came from this event, it would be the theme of the event: Standing Together. We, as humans, need to take this example and all indigenous and non-indigenous people need to stand together. We need to do, as they said, “pull together”, in all aspects of our lives for our planet and for our future. Their journey by canoe for such a huge distance demonstrates, by their “pulling” on paddles, that it can be done successfully.

New Minister
I would like to express my sincere congratulations to our new Minister of Transportation, our very own MLA, Claire Trevena! We are all looking forward to working with her on the many issues we have before us. The Premier made a good choice!

Highways tour of our roads
As most of you know, I have been working on trying to get some improvement to our road conditions for many years. We have seen a steady decline and our local contractor (Emcon Services) has not been able to keep up with the decline with the personnel, equipment and supplies that they are given. I deal with them on a very regular basis as they will attest to. They do try to accommodate our requests, but our road situation is too far gone for anyone to keep up with unless they get some additional help.

I have met with Ministry people on more occasions than I care to remember and they are always very receptive and all agree that the standards are not even close to being met. I just recently (July 18) toured the entire island with the two top people in charge of compliance in this area. They are appalled at the condition of the roads, the shoulders, the ditches and the brushing. All need serious work. They will be taking that information back to their supervisors to see if there is some way of improving the situation as soon as possible. They also noted a number of times that the contract that they have with Emcon comes up this year for renewal. This will be the time where real action will be able to take place. All of the complaints that have been filed with the Ministry will be taken into account when making decisions on that contract. I receive regular complaints about road issues and they should rightfully be sent to the Ministry at Kevin.Cartergov.bc.ca and to Anne.Molonygov.bc.ca and to our MLA Claire.Trevena.MLAleg.bc.ca and of course, to me at jimabramxplornet.ca If you want your road conditions improved, please take a moment and act upon your wishes. Thanks!

Rebecca Spit Road
While on the topic of roads, but not one that Highways or Emcon has anything to do with, I will once again mention that we were very fortunate to get the road graded just before Mayday. After that I mentioned the issue of trying to keep it in good shape and that one main way to do that was to slow down! Many people seem to be doing that and it is helping. But there are still some (let’s blame it on tourists!) that insist upon driving way too fast and creating plumes of dust that settles on the people trying to use the beach along the road for swimming and picnicking and the people that use the road for biking and walking. This is unacceptable. I mentioned in my previous comments about the speed issue “If you can see dust in your rear view mirror, you are going too fast”. All of that dust, makes up the upper surface of the road. We want to keep it there, on the road, so tell your friends…. "Dead Slow!" is the operative phrase. Thanks

Connect to Innovate funding
As I have mentioned a number of times, we have applied for a huge Federal (and Provincial) grant to provide super connectivity to our community (and almost 200 other ones also). We are nearing the end of the application process and are getting very good assurances from the Feds that we will be a successful applicant… but… we need one more piece in the puzzle. Part of the program is that the Provincial Government, through NetworkBC, will provide a small share for the last mile funding portion of it. To this end, our senior staff and Campbell River senior staff took met last week with our MLA to brief her on the entire program and to ask for her assistance in securing this funding so our application will be successful. I also wrote her the following email:
"Hi Claire..
Thanks very much for meeting with SRD staff et al earlier today regarding the CTI funding proposal..
I am very excited about it and have not been able to say too much about it since it was all in camera.
We are all but guaranteed that we will get it if the Province (NetworkBC) commits to the 11 Million that they already had earmarked for the project before the election. They were the ones that recommended the consultant that we hired that really put together a good proposal that the Feds totally support…
This is our chance to get cheap reliable connectivity, locally controlled and available to all coastal communities on the route
This will be such a plus for every MLA on the coast, right up to Rupert!
And just think, people will stop calling me and you and bugging us about “what are you doing” about connectivity! ;-)
I hope that you will be able to make this a priority as time is very short on the deadlines. We really need a “thumbs up” from the Provincial govt.
Thanks again for taking an interest and meeting with our staff. They have been working flat out along with me to make this happen. You know how many tens of years I have into it and this is the answer. But it is out of my hands and into yours and the Govt. to make it happen
Please keep me informed and let me know if you need any back up info or whatever…
Take care
Jim”

The briefing that took place will help Claire in convincing her colleagues just how important this funding is to the application and to us getting “connected”. I know she will do her best to further this ongoing lobby effort that I have worked on for so many years.

Path in Cove
It is finally happening! Ever since (and during) we did the Local Area Plan for Quathiaski Cove, I have been lobbying for a better way for pedestrian traffic to get off of Harper road and have their own dedicated pathway right from the recycling area to the school. Part of that process was completed when the new pharmacy had to give an “amenity” to the community to get their permission to build as they did. They willingly gave the existing path and landscaping. The Seniors' residence will also be doing the same, as will the Cove commercial area owners. So the only part missing was the private properties from the Seniors’ residence to the school. We have now secured right-of-way agreements with each of the property owners along the final stretch! So, construction will begin on a vision that has been a long time in the making and non-motorized traffic will have its own safe passage along Harper Road. The bylaw to finalize this will be passed on Aug. 9th. I am very pleased to say the least.

Sewer extension completion
I have been told that the sewer will finally be completed by the end of this month. i realize that it has been an inconvenience to some over the past months but it was a big project and it has employed a lot of Quadra businesses and will provide an incredible upgrade to 45+ properties and to our environment. I would like to thank all of the people who have experienced any difficulties due to the process. The hot, dry conditions didn’t help with the dust issues but they sure helped the contractors with the actual digging and construction. Soon it will be over and the island will be a better place for it.

Dog Bylaw!
Finally, after at least a year of different iterations and negotiations, I have had a number of conversations with the Animal Control owner in Campbell River (not the City) along with our RCMP and we have come to what looks like a very workable and affordable solution. All of that information has been turned over to our Chief Administrative Officer for the creation of a workable bylaw which he assures me will be looked after immediately. The delay in implementing this bylaw has not been from the lack of trying! Stay tuned.

Union of BC Municipalities
As you know, I have been on the Executive of the UBCM Executive for many years (about 14) and have served as the President of that organization which represents all local governments in BC. I still represent them on two committees that are province wide. You are the first to know that i will not be seeking re-election this September at their Annual Meeting in Vancouver. I feel that there is a strong Executive in place at this time and that I would really like to have more time in my own constituency to represent your local issues. The number of issues that I have to deal with just in Area C has at least quadrupled in the past few years and there just aren’t enough days in the year to deal with them if I am giving the amount of time that UBCM requires. I was expected to attend and prepare for three or four day meetings quarterly with two day meetings in between the quarterly Executive meetings. If you add it up with travel included, it is a lot of the year. I am also sitting as the Strathcona Regional District representative on three Marine Planning committees with the Federal, Provincial and First Nations governments and on the Province wide Regional District Ferry Chairs Group. Once again many days of travel, meetings, conference calls and preparation. So I had to make a decision to let something go and I chose UBCM. I need to be here to protect and serve the Discovery Islands and Mainland Inlets considering all of the pressures we are under at this time and all of the initiatives that people want to pursue. So now I can relax a bit since I will only be double booked most days instead of triple booked!

Letter from Minister of Transport via Commissioner of Canadian Coast Guard
I have been waiting for this letter since January and it has finally arrived! I hope that it can be reproduced here! (It is, at the end of Jim's article under 'Attachments' – eds.) It is very exciting news for me and for our entire coastal population. This was achieved through my participation for the past five years in the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) planning process with the Feds and a broad group of stakeholders! This letter makes all of those meetings seem worthwhile.

Misleading headline in Campbell River media (just a footnote)
After reading the headline “Directors vote to Increase medical coverage”, I have to respond. First of all the medical coverage is optional and I do not subscribe to it nor benefit from it in any way. The reason it was done was that a different carrier came on board and offered a better package that allowed the Directors to be covered, if they wished, and by doing so put the Regional District into a better category so that the total premium saved the District many thousands of dollars. So this was a move to save tax payer money by being more fair to Directors at the same time.

Frederick Arm clean up
Frederick Arm is one of the inlets in Area C and there has been an illegal huge, derelict float camp / marina / mess occupying that area for some time with no permission from anyone. Over the past many months I have been working with the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO for short) and the community of Stuart Island to try and get this environmental disaster cleaned up. FLNRO offered to do the enforcement and asked that we come up with a portion of the money. Through the help of Rupert Gale and the Stuart island community, many hours of volunteer “in-kind” time have been put into this and a number of Campbell River businesses have stepped up to help out. We hope to have this all completed in the next month or so depending upon the schedules of the people donating. This is another great example of how we can work together as different levels of govt. and local communities and businesses. This is how we have accomplished many of the great projects in Area C over the years and I plan to continue trying to always make this method a priority, without spending property tax dollars.

Meeting with Chief Administrative Officer
Last Thursday, our CAO Dave Leitch was good enough to come to Quadra and meet over lunch for more than two hours discussing fourteen issues and projects that are happening at this time in Area C. A sample would be (and I won’t go into them at this time):

Surplus school site acquisition on Stuart Island; the Dog Bylaw; issues at Granite Bay Park; Hoskyn Channel Wharf engineers' report (or lack thereof!); correspondence and future meeting with Chief Brian Assu about the Mt. Seymour Recreation Area proposal; the seismic upgrade of Quadra Community Centre; meeting with South Quadra Island Fire Trustees, etc., etc.,

Please realize that these were just short discussions. Each one will require an incredible amount of work and I am very pleased to have the support of senior staff who have agreed to assist me in making these things happen.

OK… I am all “typed out”! Hope you have read this far into this long report. When I was talked into running for this position I was told, “one or two meetings a month and ‘nothing happens in the summer’.. “ Ha!
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