July 2020 Newsletter
Happy summer, finally. As we head into our August break things stay interesting at the SCRD. We are trying on all fronts to save money going forward, as COVID is causing a lot of ramifications, especially in transit and recreation, but it all comes down to keeping our property tax bill manageable for next year. That being said, we were elected to solve the water situation, and we have some big news.
The Church Road well field alternate approval process (AAP) was successful and the SCRD is now able to borrow $9 million to build our two wells and the required infrastructure improvements to connect them to our water system. This new water source will add more water to our water system than Chapman Lake in the summertime! We still need to find more sources, as we are still 50% short of where we need to be.
In order to save money heading towards the eventual closure of the landfill somewhere around 2026-7, the board has decided to discontinue the coupon program from next year onwards, so make sure that you clear out your property with the current coupon before next May. The Share Shed will also be closed indefinitely, as staff discovered voids underneath it and since there are other means to get rid of used items, the $100-$150,000 required to remediate the area does not make sense with only 6-7 years left in the landfill.
We have just passed a motion to reopen SCRD recreation facilities in September. Sechelt Aquatic Centre (SAC) and the Gibsons and Area Community Centre (GACC) will be opening with certain COVID related measures in place, including restricting most facility capacity levels to 50% capacity and requiring pre-registration for activities that used to be drop-in, like the pool and the weight room. The Sunshine Coast Arena will be opening to dry ice use only, and the Gibsons Pool will remain closed for the rest of this year. Please follow updates on the SCRD recreation website as the reopening plan unrolls.
We tried to make a compromise between user group interests and operating costs, while also keeping health guidelines, weather considerations, and ramp-up timelines in mind. In March we cut some funding out of recreation to reduce our budget, and now, in hindsight, it looks like it was the wrong decision. There are a lot of fixed costs with recreation facilities, whether they are open or not. We are aware that we promised August ice to the ice users, but when the decision to open came to the board in late July, the board was not willing to make that decision without further consultation with the public. Keeping the facilities closed would have created a roughly $800,000 deficit by year end, opening them will add an additional $200,000, bringing the deficit up to about $1 million, or 5% of property taxes. A second wave of COVID may create further closures and further budget impacts, so much is still uncertain. Next year another deficit will be likely, so stay tuned for our budget deliberations in the fall to see what that will look like.
July 28th I had the opportunity to participate in a syiyaya reconciliation event organized by Dale Sankey. Richard Till and Candace Campo hosted the event and it was great to learn about the native history in Roberts Creek and to share our thoughts on reconciliation. A big thank you to all three for all the work they do and I continue to be grateful to be able to live in Stelkaya, one of the most wonderful places on this planet.
Candace Campo and Richard Till giving a walking tour of xwesam
Donna McMahon’s newsletter is always worth looking at, and this month is no different, as she has a gift for words and her perspective is valuable in and outside of our board discussions.
See you next month. In case you have any questions or concerns, you can always email me.
This newsletter will also be published to my blog at https://andreastize.com