More Transparency Needed

Thanks to the Coast Clarion for publishing my views on how the SCRD can be a more transparent and participatory local government.

If rural residents are concerned, they should elect directors who are willing to join the 21st century, put the meetings on YouTube, and communicate regularly and transparently via the web, email, and meaningful public engagement.

It’s time for the SCRD to join the 21st century

Fire Fighters are Recruiting

The Gibsons and District Volunteer Fire Department is recruiting new members, and they are particularly hoping to find a few more members who live near Fire Hall 2 on Chaster Road.

A tour of the fire hall on North Road isn’t complete without checking out the big new fire engine.

I attended the recruiting open house at the main fire hall on October 9 and would like to thank Fire Chief Rob Michaels, Deputy Chief Jordan Pratt, and Training Officer George Williams for their informative presentation and tour of the fire hall.

And a big shout out to the volunteer firefighters to protect our homes and lives.

You asked about Restructure…

A number of people have asked me either about my involvement in Restructure, or my position on it. Here it is.

First, for those of you who are relative newcomers, “restructure” refers to a referendum held in 2006 on redrawing the electoral boundaries to amalgamate Area E and F of the SCRD and the Town of Gibsons into a new district municipality, similar to what happened in Sechelt in 1986. The debate was extremely contentious in the rural areas (think “the George”). The referendum failed. Town residents voted in favour and the rural areas voted against.

I stumbled into this whole thing as a naive relative newcomer who had recently stopped commuting into Vancouver and was looking to get more involved in the community. I answered an ad in the Coast Reporter looking for volunteers for a committee to study the pros and cons of a boundary adjustment. ‘That sounds interesting!’ I thought and sent a letter to the SCRD. In due course I received a polite ‘no thanks’ and I stopped paying attention to the issue. Then, some months later I received a phone call–there was a vacancy on the committee and was I still interested? I said yes.

If I had been attending the committee meetings to that point (they were open to the public), I would have known what I was getting into, but I had no idea. I won’t go into the details here, but suffice it to say, I know how a plastic duck bobbing across a shooting gallery feels.

At the time I supported restructure because I thought it made sense. However, the referendum was defeated. And if the vote was held again tomorrow, I expect it would have much the same result.

In the last several months I’ve been going around talking to people about their issues in the upcoming election, and I have YET to hear anyone say: “I want a new referendum on restructure.”

I have no interest in refighting a political battle that’s been over for 12 years, especially when the SCRD needs to focus its attention and resources on major issues like our water storage crisis and our impending garbage crisis.

It’s time to move on.

Signs of the Times

Clint caught this unflattering photo of me touching up signs. When the rain started, sign production moved into our living room.

The planet is drowning in plastic, so I’m trying to make my campaign plastic-free. My signs are wood, some of it salvaged, some donated, and some purchased. We cut our own stencils with x-acto knives and painted the signs, with touch-ups by hand where needed. Big thanks to Ron, Joan and Lynndie for sign construction and painting, Mairi and Chris for use of their carport, and Clint and Ben for putting the signs up.

Water Supply Sept 20 Update

At the Sept. 20 meeting of the SCRD Infrastructure Services Committee, staff gave a presentation on the Stage 4 water restrictions this summer. The siphon and pump system was used for 14 days at Chapman Lake. The report did not include costs, but they were significant. (The BC Parks permit requires the SCRD visit the site daily while the siphon is in use; they either flew in by helicopter or hiked in 16 km when weather didn’t permit flights.)

Test drilling on Mahan Road. Photo taken Sept. 23.

Other things of note: staff are reviewing the targets for each Stage in light of the fact that usage was nowhere close to the targets. Test wells are being drilled right now (Sept. 17-30) at four sites, including Mahan.

I recorded this presentation as well as taking notes and am happy to make the audio file available. If you have any questions, you are welcome to email me.

SEWN Bio

Thanks very much to Self Employed Women’s Network board member Joanna Piros who interviewed me for a profile on the SEWN website.

Read about my background with the business community on the Sunshine Coast and more…

 

Campaign Financing Workshop

I organized a workshop on August 30 about BC’s new campaign financing rules, and I invited all Sunshine Coast candidates and their financial agents. I believe in collaboration, so I am starting out the way I intend to go on–by actively encouraging people to learn and work together.

I’d like to thank Mark Thompson, Compliance Officer with Elections BC for delivering the workshop via conference call, and Community Futures for providing the meeting room.

L to R: Kim Darwin (agent), Ann Schiebelbein (agent), Matt McLean (Sechelt), Donna McMahon (SCRD E), Jacqueline Gillis (Sechelt), Mark Hiltz (SCRD F), Ian Poole (agent), Bill Beamish (Gibsons), Cathrine Fuller (SCRD D). Not pictured but attending were Lori Pratt (SCRD B) and Amanda Amaral (agent). 

ALC releases report

The Agricultural Land Commission has been reviewing the situation of BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve and has issued a preliminary report with recommendations to “revitalize” and protect farmland in BC. The report urges the BC government to adopt an “agriculture first” priority for land use. Here’s an excerpt:

Urgent Need to Curb Speculation in the ALR

As urban land prices increase and population grows, the pressure to develop agricultural land continues to build. Agricultural land is being taken out of production and investors and speculators are being allowed to exploit tax system incentives intended only for those who farm.

The permissive nature of the ALC Act and regulations, that include very few, if any, limits on the size and scale of permitted farm and non-farm uses, including both mega-homes, and regulations that allow anyone to apply to remove land or develop non-farm uses in the ALR regardless of how long they have owned a property or farmed it, contributes to the perception that the ALR is “open for development”.

The Committee believes speculation on agricultural land must be curtailed if the long term viability of agriculture in B.C. is to be realized. The ALC was intended to protect and encourage the agricultural use of land. It was not intended to be a rationing board tasked with regulating the slow release of agricultural land from the reserve or the conversion of the land base to support non-farm uses.

Read Report

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