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General · 26th February 2019
Jim Abram
Finally, a day off from meetings! A good day to continue with the pruning of my very old maple trees, I thought! Not! It is blowing, raining, snowing and sleeting! Argh! Will we ever get out of this weather pattern? It was pretty for awhile, but this is getting to be a bit much! Oh well! So what better way to spend the day than writing my Report.

To say it has been a busy month would be more than an understatement. I will try to be brief, but you know that is not going to happen!

BC Ferries good news!
Might as well start with some good news that effects all of us. As you probably have heard, the consultant’s report to the Government regarding the Ferry situation was submitted to them in June and they have just announced their decision on some of the recommendations in the report. Rather than re-write the entire account of it, I am going to paste in my FaceBook posting of yesterday. It pretty much says it all.

VICTORY? WE WON? I am not sure how to start this! The announcement of the Redlin Report today was great news for most of us. Maybe all of us!
We have spent thousands of hours working on this issue. Thousands of people have participated. We have signed petitions in the amount of 40,000 people. We have done media in the thousands of hours of TV, radio and print as well as web based and FaceBook postings. We have held demonstrations at the Legislature and we have held demonstrations in local areas. Our ask was to please treat coastal communities like part of the provincial economy and as part of the provincial transportation network. We asked for Ferries to be put back into the Highways ministry, for fares to be reduced, for service levels to be restored, for the Coastal Ferry Act to be destroyed. As a very large, province wide community, we asked to be teated fairly.

I do believe that today was a turning point. We were given back our old schedules, the ones prior to the previous Minister causing havoc with them. We were given an assurance that the Coastal Ferry Act will be amended and that a new service contract will be negotiated.

The things that we said over and over again were quoted verbatim in the report and the announcement. This has to tell you that we were right and the Government has now recognized it. For this I can say, “We Won!”…..

I wanted to be assured that the "gifts” of today were not going to be off-loaded onto the Ferry Corporation and that the subsidy to them would not be increased and our fares might then go up. I called Mark Collins, CEO, directly and he assured me that the Govt. is paying the bill for the restoration of all of the mistakes.

I was incredibly relieved to hear that the northern routes were receiving a great deal of the benefit announced today. They will once again be treated as humans! They will have sailings returned to them and be able to travel like the rest of BC.
I want to thank John Horgan’s Govt. for acting upon the report from Blair Redlin. It was the right thing to do.

I want to thank all of the people out there that worked so hard for so long to just get us back to where we started. They put so much into this effort and the people of BC will benefit from it. Not just the coastal people but all of BC. This is a province wide issue.

My thanks go out to all of you for all of your hard work and your tenacity. It paid off. Onwards and upwards! (end of post on FB)

That pretty much says it all from my perspective. We do not know the exact dates of the changes taking effect but have been told it will be soon.

I also spoke with Mark Collins about the home porting issue regarding the two new vessels. I have been assured that at least one vessel will be kept on Quadra at the dock and the other is still in the planning stages. So stay tuned. They have a lot to work out.

Mapping of Quadra house numbering
A number of years ago I was asked by the Fire Dept if I could get spiral bound map books of all of the roads and numbers on Quadra fo each responder to have in their vehicles. I managed to get the house numbering (GIS) people to comply and they provided a number of books for Fire, Ambulance and Police. Over the years and with lots of use they became worn and in need of replacement. A couple of years ago I requested new books with all of the updates and the SRD complied. I gave those to all of the above. Recently I was told that it would be very helpful for each of the home ports for each of these three service providers to have a large map with the same (or more) info. Once again I requested five foot by six foot wall maps for each of the above and the SRD put in three days to provide them. I formally presented them to the service providers at a little gathering at the Fire Hall last week. This will help them in being able to see the “big picture” at the stations and on the road. Hopefully this will keep you safer! One public service announcement though… If you don’t have a house number posted at your driveway, please do not delay! Put one up! Your life could depend on it.

Meeting with Q. Cove Local Area Plan (LAP) developers
I met with some of the people who want to provide much needed housing on Quadra and that want to help us realize our intention in the LAP vision. One of their main hold ups is not the SRD but other government departments. Some have had approval form the SRD and at least one of the other main players at senior level of government but are getting little response from another level of government. I confirmed this and took it upon myself to call directly to the people in charge at that agency and had a commitment to visit the property within this past week. He actually did as requested and has seen fit to get the proposal moving immediately. Time well spent in picking up the phone and talking to a person that I have worked with ever since I have been in local government. Relationship building is so important. So hopefully we will see some movement and approvals and hence, some properties for sale or rent in the near future.

Gowlland Views development

This proposal was before the community a couple of years ago, out towards April Point and towards West Road. It was opposed, supported and everything in between. After months of consultation and negotiation and public open houses, a proposal came forward that was generally accepted by the community. It provided much needed properties for sale, lots of parkland dedication, many trails and even a small campground. It also provided connection to the Q. Cove sewer which needed more connections to keep the annual user fee at a lower rate.

The application then went somewhat dormant and did not proceed to public hearing nor fruition.

The applicants came back this last Committee meeting with a substantially altered plan that did not provide the same amount of amenities, half the lots, and no connection to the sewer system. This was a major change to the proposal and had not been presented to me or the other directors prior to showing up on the agenda. It is impossible to then proceed with these changes without considerable discussion with staff, the proponent and the public. As was reported in one of the other publications on the island, we made a recommendation from the committee that the old, substantially different bylaws be defeated and sent back to staff, the proponent, the Director (me) and the public for revisions. The impression left by the other recent reporting was that we were defeating the proposal. Untrue!. We were defeating irrelevant bylaws that could not have been easily amended so that we could write up appropriate bylaws that would help this proposal have a chance in the community. It does provide for more housing, give substantial amenities to the community and allows for greater use of the sewer system. But it requires detailed work and research to be done and most of all community input.

Since then I have met with the proponents and our senior planner and have come to some agreement on the direction that things should go. This is how it should have started, but it didn’t. We are now on the right track and hopefully will be providing some affordable lots and a well planned development with lots of amenities for the people of Quadra.

Discovery Island Chamber of Commerce (DICC) meeting
I had a pleasant luncheon meeting at the Legion with DICC Directors and discussed many issues, the least of which was the direction that the Chamber might be embarking on over the next two years. So far a great deal of emphasis has been put on tourism promotion. That direction is being questioned due to the lack of infrastructure on the island and the incredible success the Chamber has had in drawing tourism to the island and improving our economy. The next direction they were considering was economic development in general. There is nothing wrong with that. However, in discussion with one of the members at a meeting prior to this meeting, we focused on the SRD initiative called the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan. We were successful in receiving a grant in the amount of $70,000.00 to hire a consultant to look at what we have, what we need and where we want to go, along with a whole lot more. The Request for Proposals has gone out and the SRD staff are reviewing the short list at this time. Once chosen the consultant will be leading public consultations with groups and associations and everyone on the Discovery Islands (excluding Cortes) to try and come up with our vision. This will be OUR vision, not the consultants’. The Chamber will be one of those key groups that will be consulted with. We talked about this for some time and it seemed like the DICC is in!

This should all start moving in the early spring.

Read Island issues

I am not going to go into the details of most of these, because it would just be too much!

We are still in the final stages of purchasing the six acres of land adjacent to our Surge Narrows dock facility and I am still working on the final details of the water lot reassignment with our planners and with the ministry of Forest and Natural Resources.
A huge volunteer project is underway to clean up the mess on the water lease that is due to lack of maintenance. The debris is becoming an environmental threat and the community is doing this and bringing it to the Quadra side where it will be shipped to the landfill. I have gotten the landfill (run by the CVRD) to waive the fees since it is a “beach" clean up!

We are also negotiating with a new woodlot owner on the island to see if it will be possible to purchase a piece of one of the lots that he just purchased from Raven Industries. This is adjacent to land that the Read Islanders already own and also adjacent to SRD land down the road.

The forest practices of one of the other small companies and one of other large companies is causing a great deal of concern and is the subject of a great deal of discussion in the community. (please understand that I am trying to keep this short, so few details at this time).

The SRD is also being asked to continue its participation in a huge comprehensive mapping project that will benefit the community and the SRD and all others that might need to reference it.
During the upcoming visioning process and ICSP process large scale maps are being produced by the SRD. You can find them here: https://strathconard-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/dsauer_srd_ca/EQkpL_1cRkJGqAFVZ5tZkkUBR-Y7DXwfDKEt6weKEfOFOA?e=sJsLGY

Possible purchase of T-W private land at Granite Bay
I am talking with senior officials about preserving about three hectares of a cut block that they are planning to do adjacent to the Granite Bay Wharf Park. They are being very agreeable about not logging it and selling it at a reasonable price. This would come out of Parks Reserve funds. Discussion to continue in the next two weeks.

Cannabis unknowns
I know everyone is asking about this issue and it is coming up at our next committee meeting, I believe. The new regulations that have been announced by the Feds and the province are totally confusing to say the least. Some sort of regulation, like zoning, will be considered just as all other land uses are.

Our head planner, Aniko, and her planning team have been pro-active and even though they have not received Board direction on how to address it, they have been working behind the scenes to understand the most recent legislation. They are ready and shall do whatever the Board directs them to do.

QI Cemetery License Renewal
I was asked to support this renewal but not at the inflated price the province wanted. I wrote a letter in support of the existing fees and uses. I will be attending the AGM on March 5th to discuss this with them.

BC Ferries again!
We will be having two Ferry Advisory Committee meetings in the next few weeks: one on Campbell River terminal development on Feb. 27th and then another one as an operational meeting on March 14th.

Ocean Protection Advisory Committee meeting
I will be attending the OPAC meeting #5. It will be taking place in Parksville. The meeting is set for 2.5 days (half day on March 18th (beginning at noon) and full days on March 19th and 20th. This is one of the Federal committees the SRD Board has appointed me to. I am there to represent our regions’ issues and report back to them. I do a formal report which you can view on the minutes of the SRD Board as they get submitted

Stuart Island issues
The transfer of the School District property that they have divested is taking longer than expected but is totally underway. The reassignment of the water lease in front of it to the SRD is also moving along slowly but it is happening. This is a real exercise in patience for me, as I like to just get things done. We are dealing with three bureaucracies, so you can imagine!
Also a Stuart Island Board of Directors meeting is being held in Campbell River March 8 at the the Pacifica office at 1pm. I will be attending.

Island Health Board of Directors Partnership Breakfast
An Invitation was sent on behalf of Leah Hollins, Board Chair, Island Health, for a 7:30 am meeting to discuss our issues. One that I have informed them of is the need for restructuring their agency so as to allow developers a reasonable hope of getting their proposals looked at.

North Island Communities Burning Regulation Committee
I have been asked to attend this meeting on May 15th which deals with the north island desire to have burning regulation in their area. So far all we have gotten to is an impasse due to conflicting jurisdictions. We’ll get it straightened out, I am sure.

Owen Bay Wharf
There has been a lot of back and forth regarding the reconstruction of the Owen Bay wharf facility. The majority of the concern is around the alignment of the lease that is being applied for. A consultant was hired to design the wharf but it does not work for bare access to this water access only community. I asked staff to please see if they can change the lease area applied for (already in process).

I can report that staff have been very diligent with respect to the Owen Bay application and have received an update from FLNRORD indicating that the application is on hold pending approval of the Site Alteration Permit. So it looks like this can be worked out amicably

Had enough??? ( I am sparing you the gory details of all the Committee and various Board meetings I still have to attend!)

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