The hardest part about doing my report each time is getting started. It is so hard to condense such a massive amount of information into a couple of pages that you will be interested in reading. I usually have to think about it for a day or two before putting fingers to keys! So, here we go!Ferry petition and other related issues
As of right now, the petition has 15,950 signatures and the goal is 16,000 (by the time you read this) I am confident we will easily make it and then some. It will then be presented to the Premier and the Legislative Assembly on March 12. A media event will follow and I will be there along with a number of other people from other areas of the coast. For those of you who are unaware of the petition, it asks that the ferries be returned to the Ministry of Transportation (where they came from in 1960) and be treated as our marine highway and part of the provincial transportation infrastructure and funded accordingly. The Green caucus has agreed to present this to the Premier. It would have been inappropriate for our MLA, the Minister of Transportation, to be the one to present it since she is the one conducting the ferries review for the Premier. I feel that it would have put her in an awkward position. Hence the Green Caucus who agree with the premise of the petition and campaigned on it. You can go to Change.org and find the petition, if you wish to see it or sign it. (Please do!)
In other ferry news, I have met in Victoria twice now with the CEO, Mark Collins on some operational issues that effect us on Quadra (and elsewhere). We have had some very frank and productive discussions about the ambulance situation and out of our first meeting came the impetus for BCFS to meet with BC Ambulance (which they have done) and work on a solution for our late night after hour sailings for medical emergencies. I had received a letter from the Quadra OAP asking for help on this issue, in addition to our continuing pressure on BCFS to deal with this safety issue. We also discussed the crewing issue which is the reason they use for not being able to sail after hours. We may have come up with two very creative solutions to this issue also. Details to follow. The issue of one or two vessels was explored thoroughly and I am confident we will be able to have this resolved in our favour with a two vessel solution. Discussions will continue. The other issue that I pushed very hard for is the return of our old schedule!. They are agreeable to looking at this seriously and feel that I gave them some good food for thought wearing my Regional Director’s hat. We discussed information about things like growth and capacity on the island and future direction of the community. The official process will require some paper work from our Ferry Advisory Committee, which is already in the works as of this past weekend. None of these issues require government involvement so it is encouraging that we might be able to just move forward.
I passed on some very exciting news last report about the sites that will be serviced from our new super undersea backbone cable for fibre optic service to most areas of Area C (not just Quadra). I did receive a number of calls from people concerned that their neighbourhood did not have a named landing site. I explained that the landing site will serve as a point of contact for the land cables to connect to and deliver service to various areas. So please be patient. This is still very much in the planning stages and more information will be forthcoming. We are receiving regular updates at the Board meetings and things are moving way quicker than I anticipated with staff having meetings in Vancouver with the providers and our partner, CityWest of Prince Rupert, and in Victoria with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs who will need to create bylaws for us to be able to implement such a creative and innovative new structure. So, though things seem to be going slowly, I am impressed with the vigour with which it is being attacked by our staff and Board. After so many years of pursuing this as you Director it is so nice to have our staff taking over the task of doing the implementation. This is not going to give you immediate service but it should give you hope for service in the near future. Fire Smart grant
The Board passed the motion to apply for the funding from UBCM for Area C (and other areas) at our last meeting. As I mentioned in the last report this will give us funds for some projects to help do some work on the ground and also educate the public. There will be a demonstration home in at least four areas where staff will go to do assessments and help with ideas on how to make homes safer. There will also be a number of sites where debris can be brought for chipping and disposal to help decrease fuel around houses. There will also be an informational town hall meeting and information brochures for the Tourist booth to help them understand the dangers of fire on our island. I also insisted that this initiative focus on the north island since they are not served by the Fire protection district. I am hoping that this will be an opportunity to bring some comfort to the northern areas that they have not been forgotten.
On a bit of a tangent but dealing with fire danger, the Board passed a motion that I suggested, to send a letter of thanks to Dalyce Dogterom for her efforts to bring the northern areas concerns to the attention of both the Fire Dept. and the Regional District.SRD Board turns TEN !
We celebrated our tenth birthday this past week after being split by the province from the CSRD thus forming two Regional Districts: the Comox Valley and the Strathcona RD. It has been an eventful 10 years, with many staffing challenges and changes and lots of internal reorganization. We have managed to keep functioning and getting the work done and I am proud of my colleagues on the Board and our staff for persevering. We can only get better.Seismic upgrade to Community Centre
The Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued this past Friday for the seismic upgrade to the Community Centre, which also serves as our Emergency Reception Centre. This will use up the $500,000 grant money that I obtained from the province (Todd Stone, if you can believe it!) a couple of years ago. Our deadline for use of the money was this past Dec. 31st.! Unfortunately, the engineering estimate at that time was what is called a Class C estimate (the loosest of the classes) and when the Class A estimate was done this past year, it came in at $900,000! I went back to my sources at the province and they had no more money for me but they were willing to extend the funding timeframe to Dec. 31, 2018. (otherwise we would have had to give the money back!) I have asked staff to make sure that the RFP is heavily weighted to local contractors so it may put Quadra people to work. We still need that extra $400,000 to finish the entire job. The program was run under the Ministry of Transportation (where I got the money at the time), but it has now been transferred to the Justice Dept.
Since this is a time sensitive and extremely important issue, I would ask that you send emails and make calls to our MLA, Claire Trevena, asking her to intercede on our behalf and see if she can come up with the extra money. She should have some contacts in Justice and since it was in Transportation when I got the money it seems like a natural request for her to be in contact with other dept’s and Ministers.Safety Council meeting
We had a very productive meeting last week with great attendance by hard working dedicated volunteers. I reported out to them on a number of SRD issues and on the Ferry news also. Our Dog bylaw has been a long time coming but we are supposed to have all parties in the same room in the next weeks to finally put together a bylaw suited to Quadra.
I was able to give them the good news, following a few great meetings with the Min. of Highways, that Heriot Bay Rd. from the Spit Rd to Pilot Rd. is going to be completely redone with a new shoreline ballasting and a wide shoulder for pedestrians and bikes and proper culverting to avoid future problems. The other road that is getting a major facelift is Weway on the steep hill by the village. The core sampling was taking place last week. Both of these are special major projects and have taken a lot of “squeaky wheel” lobbying. But they are finally happening!
I will be requesting, through our GIS technician, a complete update of the map books that I had them make up for our Emergency Service providers to carry in their vehicles. These books are very out of date and cause unnecessary delay in response times.
I have also requested one AED (portable defibrillator) for Surge Narrows and three industrial first aid kits for the docks at Hoskyn Channel, Surge Narrows and Evans Bay.
I would like to commend our Emergency Service volunteers for all of the time they put into training and education and on the ground work with the community and other communities. They are looking out for you, so support them in their efforts. You could be the beneficiary of their hard work at some time when you least expect it!Property divestiture and acquisitions
I covered the three main areas that I am speaking of (Stuart Isl., Quadra Isl., and Surge Narrows) in my last report. This is just an update on the progress.
I have now met with all of the Ministers and their staff on these issues and continue to meet with staff from Powell River over the water license at Surge Narrows. To say the least, the property issues have been extremely complex and have taken an inordinate amount of time to deal with but they are being methodically worked through by our staff and myself. I am confident that we will have resolution in the coming months.
I had a great meeting in Campbell River, along with our staff, with the Stuart Island Community Association. What a great group of volunteers! They were able to provide much needed details that will help us in the land transactions. I appreciate the fact that many of them traveled great distances to attend this meeting. UBCM Electoral Area Forum
As a rural Director, I attended the one two-day forum in the year that is specifically for Electoral Area Directors and is put on by the UBCM in Richmond. It tries to focus on our problems, concerns and similarities as rural directors. We get to discuss common issues, hear from the province on new initiatives and regulation that is either in the works or being proposed. Invaluable information is shared amongst directors during coffee breaks and meals. Our Chair of the Board also attended as an observer to acquaint herself with rural issues.Development proposals
A) There is a proposal by a Mr. Mallis. The staff report states: The 3.66-hectare subject parcel situated at 1043 Topcliff Road, on Quadra Island is currently designated Rural and zoned Rural One (RU-1). A re-designation and rezoning application has been received to facilitate a subdivision of the parcel into two lots and to create two separate titles – one for the existing house and cottage and another for a vacant lot where a house could be built, as seen on the subdivision proposal attached: Proposed Lot 1 has the existing house and cottage and Proposed Lot 2 will be developed with a single-family dwelling only.
The applicant’s sister and brother-in-law share title to the property and wish to build and live on the property. In order to facilitate their proposal, they have applied to:
1) re-designate the subject parcel from Rural to Rural Residential for Proposed Lot 1 and from Rural to Country Residential for Proposed 2, and
2) rezone the subject parcel from Rural One (RU-1) to Rural Two (RU-2) for Proposed Lot 1 and from Rural One (RU-1) to Country Residential Two (CR-2) for Proposed Lot 2.
This would be for family purposes and has a precedent in the Richardson re-designation and re-zoning in the same neighbourhood which provided a total of three smaller lots for family use.
It has been passed at the Board for circulation and consultation with agencies and First Nations. It will still need to come back to Committee and the Board as well as to the community for a public hearing, TBA.
B) On another note, there will be an application coming forward from the group that proposed the residential subdivision next to the golf course. It was defeated due to legal issues and a flawed process. This application is now following the proper process of applying for an OCP re-designation and a re-zoning to two new categories, concurrently. The issue will come to the March 7th Electoral Area Services Committee meeting and will be online at strathconrdsrd.ca on the Friday night before that. As I understand it, there will be public engagement meetings prior to any public hearing taking place.External Board appointments
i) 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. I will be attending another two day meeting of this group in Richmond at the end of the month.
I presented a report on this committee’s work to date at the last Board meeting which can be found at the following link if you care to read it: https://agenda.strathconard.ca/SRDAttachments/SRDBoard/Open/BRD/22-Feb-18/Draft-Offshore-Pacific-Advisory-Committee-Meeting-2-Summary_Jan16-17-2018-COMBINED.pdf
ii) 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 recreational and commercial users.
I will be attending a two day meeting of this group on Feb. 26-27 in Richmond.
iii) The Marine Area Planning Partnership for North Vancouver Island is a group of Provincial, First Nations, local government and various stakeholders that is trying to create a marine plan for all of the waters from the tip of Quadra to the Alaska border. There are four regional groups (I am part of the North Vanc. Isl. group) and then there is the complete Regional Group, consisting of all four groups and they meet once or twice a year to harmonize plans if possible.
I will be attending a two day meeting of the local group March 5-6 in Campbell River. Rick Snowden is also on this group representing recreational tourism and it is a pleasure having him there.
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