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General · 10th February 2019
Jim Abram
I am back! I didn’t have time to file a report last issue due to too many other issues in the works right at that time. So here is the latest. I hope you find it useful. I issued a request in my last report for any interested volunteers to contact me and let me know what they might be able to help with in one of the busiest areas of the province. I received four replies and each will be helping me out on specific projects: Two on the Harper Road Pathway, one as a general helper, and one helping with my strategy to create jobs and provide rental housing. I appreciate the offer from each.

The first thing I would like to do is repeat, for those that might have missed it, the following info on how to deal with Highways issues. The contacts are what I have at the present time and I hope you will print them and keep them by your phone or computer. So here they are as they were printed in the previous report (some modifications)

Highways issues
This one never seems to go away, even though it is not the jurisdiction of Local Government. This is Provincial jurisdiction (MLA and Minister) but I advocate on your part and collaborate with the Ministry offices in Courtenay and with the contractor, Mainroad Services, on an all too regular basis. I will continue to do so regarding safe roads, shoulders, pathways, crosswalks, signage and much more.

The following are the contact numbers/emails I have so far (I haven’t received all of them yet, some are still pending).

They have a 24-hour hotline number which is answered by a real person - 1-877-215-7122. This is the main number to call. The complaint gets recorded and the operator has the ability to contact the road crew directly. USE IT!

Quadra island – 250-285-3524 – they may not have an answering machine set up yet.
Campbell River – pending (if you can believe that!)
Courtenay – 250-400-3545

Email addresses:
Damian Girard ( the same person that led Emcon before!) was successful in obtaining the road manager position for the Campbell River/Islands area – dgirardmainroad.ca
The new Operations Manager for the north island is Leon Bohmer and his email is lbohmermainroad.ca This is the top person at Mainroad for our area.

Your other avenue, which is very effective, is calling the Courtenay office of the Ministry of Transportation directly. They manage and monitor the Mainroad contract. The people there are wonderful to work with and deal with issues immediately. I will be meeting with them by the end of the month. Their contact info is as follows:

Alycia Traas, Alycia.Traasgov.bc.ca
Operations Manager
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
250-334-6954

Ashley Cousens
Area Manager
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Vancouver Island District, Courtenay Area Office
(250) 334-6955
Ashley.Cousensgov.bc.ca

Both of these women are excellent to deal with and extremely patient!

Pathway project
There is an incredible amount of energy on the island to get on with this project and it is on my agenda at all times. I have made contact and secured a couple of major donors to do some of the heavy work of clearing (with machines) and still have others to talk to about materials for the surfacing. I just received a wonderful email from our planner about another grant opportunity. This time it is from BC Hydro for landscaping. Here is a part of what I was sent:

"The parks department determined that the Q. Cove Pedestrian Path was eligible for a grant through the BC Hydro Community ReGreening Program for the Q. Cove Pedestrian Pathway. BC Hydro has partnered with local communities and Tree Canada to help fund trees and planting projects across the province. Community ReGreening grants help make sure appropriate trees are planted around power lines, and enhance ecological networks. The grants help fund the purchase of specific, acceptable trees. Typically, the purchase of trees is funded, while the applicant will arrange for the labour and ongoing maintenance. No more than one grant can be awarded to any municipality in a given year.

The grant asks for information pertaining to in-kind donations. Are you able to confirm at this time a commitment from any individual/group/company and the specific work that is being donated.”

Since I already have people volunteering to help, and I am sure there will be more, I took the liberty to tell her to go for it. I am confident that we will come up with volunteers.

So this is in addition to the $70,000.00 amount that I got from the Community Works Fund to go towards this project. So we are getting there! I am very excited to finally be at the start of the project and I hope to see the completion of it very soon!

Outer Island issues
The outer islands take up an incredible amount of time due to the number of projects we have on the go. I mentioned many of them in the last report and I can now report that we are moving along nicely with the cooperation of the Ministry of Forests (FLNRORD - it’s a mouthful!), Highways, in the way of the subdivision, the community as volunteers doing cleanup and of course, the SRD planning staff. The huge Grant opportunity that I mentioned in my last report has been filed on time and is being considered. Fingers crossed!

We were supposed to get two steel pilings at the Hoskyn Channel Dock to secure it instead of anchors. We hired locally to do the job and as it turned out, there was too much bedrock and piles could not be driven. Alternate solutions are being looked at.

I have met with a representative of the Community Association and with the new owner of the Raven lands on Read Island. He is a forester and has put all of the land into his woodlot, including a 60+ acre parcel that is highly desired by the community. They did a major successful campaign to fund the purchase of about a third of it a number of years ago and now they would love to acquire the remainder. I arranged the meeting to look at various options that may be possible. It was very productive and we came away with possible solutions that no one had considered prior to our meeting. I was very pleased with the outcome. The owner will be getting back to us soon to discuss further.

Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP)
This is the planning process I have mentioned in a number of reports and we are hoping to get on with it as soon as we get through some of the other projects that are almost finished, including our SRD Budget. This will take in Quadra and all of the outer islands and is being funded by a grant that we got for $70,000.00 from senior government. There will be extensive and inclusive consultation and involvement from our resident population. At the end of the process we should have a pretty good idea where everyone wants to go from here! It is big and will require lots of work. I am not going to say otherwise. But we need it. We are at a stage in our development where we really need to look at what we are doing and determine if it is the right course. I look forward to many productive meetings. (as if I don’t attend enough as it is!) Stay tuned!

Comment… FYI
I am sure that many of you have read the reports in the media about the troubles on Cortes Island. This issue has been taking up an inordinate amount of time for all of the SRD senior staff and all Board members. We all look forward to a satisfactory conclusion to this very difficult issue. I can’t say much about it as we are still, as Directors, not allowed to speak due to confidentiality.

Other issues
I am just going to throw out some of the other things I am spending my time on without elaborating:

Solid Waste issues, e.g. Recycling and the Advanced Technology Committee (I have a meeting this week as a Committee member)
Safety Council Meeting last Thursday
Two days of all day Budget meetings this week
Numerous meetings of the SRD Board and Committees and the CVRD Board and the Comox Strathcona Hospital District Board
Business as usual with phone calls and emails

Feel free to contact me between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 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… You can read occasional updates on issues that i will post on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JimAbram, but please do not use this medium as a way to communicate regarding SRD business. 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!

Emails and phone messages received over the weekend or on holidays will be returned promptly on the next regular work day.

Respectfully submitted,
Jim Abram
Director, Discovery Islands-Mainland inlets, Area C, SRD