I hope you have all enjoyed the four beautiful sunny days that we have just experienced. Often typical for February and I love it. Also Happy Valentine’s Day to all !
I have a few items that I wanted to get out earlier but was in meetings in Vancouver at the last deadline, so I will try and bring you up to date in this report.Ferry petition
As many of you know, a petition has been circulating on Change.Org to ask the Premier to bring the Ferry system back into the Ministry of Transportation as part of our marine highway and provincial transportation infrastructure. To date, we have gathered 15,500 signatures and still climbing. If you have not signed, please feel free to go to the link and do so. It will be presented in the Legislature in the very near future. People are also being encouraged to email and call their MLA’s to ask them to lend support to the request in the petition. Hopefully you will add your name to the list!Connect to Innovate (Check this out!)
As I have mentioned in previous reports this is the program where we received approximately $46 million from the Federal and Provincial governments to connect 154 communities on the coast with high speed fibre optic internet via undersea “back bone” cable. This will run from Prince Rupert all the way to Vancouver, down both sides of Vancouver Island and along the Sunshine Coast. “Landings" will happen at specified sites where distribution will then take place.
Addressing the need for reliable and affordable cellular and broadband service in communities across the Regional District is a strategic priority of the Board and significant efforts have been made over several years to address this priority.
On January 17, 2018 it was announced that the Connected Coast project would receive combined funding of $45.4M from the federal and provincial government. The Connected Coast project was developed by the Strathcona Regional District and Citywest (the Prince Rupert connection) and submitted under the federal government's $500M Connect to Innovate program.
Now that the funding is confirmed, preliminary project planning is underway. This will include developing appropriate governance structures, detailed project plans, communications and engagement tools, and resourcing requirements. The backbone network is anticipated to be delivered in a phased approach over the next three years commencing with more detailed surveying, network design and approvals. The Board will be receiving regular briefings on this project so that key decisions related to governance and financial interests can be addressed. I will update you as reports come in at the Board.
I am now going to list the landings below and I think that Area C will be very well served. Far too many years of lobbying have gone into this and now it is a reality that I am very pleased to announce to you. I have listed the Area C landings in the order that they appear from north to south and then back up the west side of Quadra. The others are from the Cortes area and other areas of the Regional District. Note that I am only listing the ones in our Regional District.
Area C: (OK, you can now get excited!). Here is the news you have been waiting for!
Port Neville, Blind Channel, Surge Narrows, Bold Point, Heriot Bay, Read Island, Refuge Cove, Yaculta (Cape Mudge), Quathiaski Cove, Granite Bay
Other SRD sites:
Bloedel, Campbell River (FN+City), Rock Bay Ceepeecee, Ehattesaht, Elk Bay, Esperanza, Tahsis, Gold River Landing, Kyuquot
(Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k:tles7et'h’), Mowachaht/Muchalaht, Nuchatlaht, Yuquot, Klahoose First Nation, Mansons Landing, Whaletown, Sayward, Seaford
So you will see from this list that we are going to be well served from all points and distribution will go on from each landing. I am very excited that we are getting the sites that we need and there could be more if we are lucky! That is still to come.Fire Smart grant
It was announced at the Board that our application for a $10,000 grant to be used in Area C has been awarded. We were given a list of projects that would be eligible for use of the funding and I have consulted with our Emergency Program volunteers and with our Emergency Services staff person at the SRD. Due to all of the interest in getting more fire services to the north island and the difficulties we are having doing that, I felt that the money would best be spent with a priority given to those areas and that is what will be done. The south island will also be looked after and tourists will be targeted informing them of the extreme likelihood of fires during dry periods and what precautions they need to take.Planning Grant
I cannot give you the details of this funding at this time since the Province has asked that we not announce the amount until after March 9th. What I can tell you is that we are going to receive much needed funding to carry out long overdue planning work in Area C, including the outer islands. More in a future report. Stuart Island school property divestiture
We have finally completed the entire package that needed to be forwarded to the three Ministries responsible for the divestiture of this property to the SRD. I have had discussion with the School Board Chair, met with all three of the Ministers involved, received SRD Board approval and met with the Stuart Island Community Association last Friday. The application is comprehensive and the community looks forward to having this property finally in the hands of the SRD so it can legally be used for community purposes that have been taking place there for many years.Quadra Island pre-school property
The application for this property in Heriot Bay has also been submitted and I have met with the three ministers involved in this and had discussions with our School Board Trustee (Chair of SD Board). Both of these applications will now go through the Provincial process and then return to the School District and SRD for final approval. This has been a long and tedious process and it is not over yet!Surge Narrows water lease and land negotiations
We are still in discussion with the ministry of Forests and Lands (FLNRORD!) over the water lease that is adjacent to our SRD Surge Narrows Wharf. We are also in negotiations for the upland property. I cannot discuss those details since it is a land transaction. Should we be successful in both efforts we will have an incredible addition to the Surge Narrows community: more possibilities for moorage and the ability to restore the upland historic Surge Narrows Store. This will enlarge what is now the “village site” of Surge Narrows and allow for many other opportunities for the community.Other activities on your behalf
I won’t bore you with the day to day activities which never seem to end but I will mention three important groups that I represent the SRD Board on.
The Oceans Protection Plan has held two meetings so far and they concerned the $1.5 billion dollars that the Feds put into protecting our coast. We have discussed issues such as derelict vessels, pollution response, search and rescue, fisheries issues, first nations and local govt. involvement, environmental issues of all types and many other issues.
The Marine Protected Area Federal initiative is focusing on a proposed massive protected area off of the west cost of the island. I am there to represent local govt issues (as part of a four RD group) and how this might impact the economics of our area regarding fishing opportunities for both the recreational and commercial users.
The Regional District Ferry Chairs Group is still alive and active. I have made two trips to Victoria to discuss ferry issues and putting the ferries back into the Ministry along with local issues like restoring our original schedule to our ferry and the possibility of a two-vessel system (like we had in the mid-eighties). We would be looking at two 47 car ferries sailing every half hour from BOTH sides simultaneously, or a schedule to be determined. We could even be looking at more sailings earlier and later in the day with this system. I cannot tell you how pleased I am with this solution, since a 100 car ferry absolutely will not work on this route for a variety of reasons. More to come on this topic.
I am going to leave it at that for now. 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!
Director, Discovery Islands-Mainland inlets, Area C, SRD