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General · 19th January 2018
Jim Abram
I hope you find my first report of the year informative. I will try to list most of the activities that have taken place since before Christmas.

CONNECTIVITY ANNOUNCEMENT
But first, I would like to take this opportunity to announce something that most people have had on their wish list for quite some time.

As many of you know I have been working on bringing high-speed internet and better cell coverage to our area since the 1990’s. The first success was the introduction of ADSL service to the three kilometre radius around Q. Cove. Later it was expanded service through my negotiations with Telus for better coverage off of the Cantel / Rogers tower at the top of Noble Rd. Since then, as a lone Director working on this, progress has been slow.

A few years ago, our SRD Board started to look at connectivity as a major issue for all areas, not just ours. We managed to make it a “Strategic Priority” for the Board (of which there are only five per year). We voted to allocate funds to hire the top consultant in the field and came up with a completely new way of delivering services to more than 200 communities coast wide. We pursued it vigorously and applied for all applicable grants. The major grant (which I have written about in earlier reports) was the Federal Connect to Innovate Grant. This allowed us to join forces with Prince Rupert and look at a coast wide undersea “backbone" fibre optic system. Details to follow! The Provincial Connectivity Grant was more for the “last mile” connections - the ones that come from the backbone and feed each community.

Well, I am pleased to announce that we were successful in winning both grants to the tune of $69 million in Federal money and $16 Million in Provincial money. I have been invited to attend the announcement in Vancouver with the two Ministers responsible on January 17th and I will be there!

You will probably see media releases and news stories prior to getting this report.

The SRD will then need to enter into serious discussions on how we will implement the delivery of the service.

I know that many of you have doubted that this would ever happen and I was beginning to feel the same. However, I never questioned whether or not I would keep trying. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about this development. After the announcement, I will have more details to share with you and I will.

Seniors' housing development
As you know, the Seniors Group has been working on a development in the Cove to provide for low cost assisted living within the Local Area Plan of the Cove. They have jumped through all of the Provincial and local government hoops and managed to clear the last obstacle this past Wednesday at the SRD planning committee level. A Development Permit is required to insure that all of the items such as landscaping and other amenities that they proposed are completed. This is in the form of a bond. I thoroughly supported this at the committee and it passed unanimously. So, on to the ground breaking!

Burning regulation harmonization
This is the continuation of a discussion that we have been having with residents on the north end of Quadra and the South Quadra Island Fire Protection District. Residents in the north wanted to see regulations put in place to regulate burning in the north. The Fire Dept. has no authority or jurisdiction outside of their specific area. The SRD has no fire service in the area,hence our dilemma! We received a letter from the Fire Trustees explaining that they did not have the resources to accommodate the north island. The SRD has neither authority nor service for the same. So we are going to have a meeting with the Improvement District to see if we can come up with something creative. That meeting could take place in the next month.

Heriot Bay and Stuart Island surplus School properties
The School District is divesting itself of two unused pieces of land in Area C. I have applied through the SRD for both of them. One is on Stuart Island and has the Community Association building situated on it, so it would be good to get that legalized asap. The second property is the old pre-school property at the cut-off junction from West Road to Hyacinthe Bay Road. It is close to 5 acres and will be a welcome addition to our Parks inventory. Both of these parcels will come to us as “Sponsored (free) Crown Grants”. I have met with the Ministers responsible and they are willing to sign the papers. The application papers have gone through the Board and should be processed soon.

Residential Development (next to the golf course)
As a community, we went through a very protracted debate regarding the “golf course rezoning”. The entire process was fraught with errors and was turned down due to legal advice recently. The applicants were given questionable advice and wish to now bring forward a proper application for an OCP amendment and a rezoning application on their property on Heriot Bay Road. The item was before the EASC committee last week for the purpose of waiving the one year waiting period for reapplication. It was felt by staff and the Directors that this was not unreasonable since the applicants had been deterred from applying for the OCP amendment and they should be given that opportunity for due process without having to wait another year. So, there will be another hearing coming up in the future to consider another application for the residential development next to the golf course. Please be clear that this is not a “Golf corse rezoning”. It will be a stand alone, subdivided off property for residential use. I am sure that we will all be given much better information than we were last time and will be able to make a decision on this application.

Other meetings
I continue to sit on numerous outside boards and committees on behalf of the SRD. I will be attending three separate processes in the next month in Vancouver on your behalf. All have elements that effect our lives in Area C and more broadly in the SRD. I will report as I have completed the meetings.

I am going to leave it at that for now even though there are other issues of importance to report on. More to follow

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
Director, Discovery Islands-Mainland inlets, Area C, SRD