May 2020 Newsletter
It’s official, when people look back, 2020 will be the year when everything changed. As I sit here drafting my latest newsletter, the US is in civil unrest and I am reflecting on my own role as a white privileged male in being part of the establishment. I am starting to feel that it is incumbent on us to educate ourselves on how our conscious and unconscious biases, given to us by our culture and upbringing, create the conditions we live in. We need to acknowledge that racism is systemic, and that we need to bring it to our consciousness in order to identify how we interact with it and what is needed to move past it. On the Sunshine Coast we do not have a huge amount of diversity, but we need to celebrate and acknowledge the little that we do have, and I do want to acknowledge that we have two First Nations with their respective stories that we need to educate ourselves on. Have you been to the Tems Swiya Museum? Have you been to the Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler? Have you scoured the Squamish and Shishalh Nation websites? Do you know how the Indian Act came about and what its ramifications were and are? Do you know what the Delgamuukw case is? Have you participated in a Kairos blanket exercise? Have you read the foundation agreement? I have done all that and I feel like I am still only at the beginning of learning what true reconciliation means. I hope that this year of change brings forth a better world than the one we live in now, but as I look at it right now, it can go either way. Let’s try to be constructive, inclusive and above all, be forgiving and kind to one another because these are challenging times, and everyone has different problems to deal with in their own way.
We have gotten our first report what possible financial ramifications may come out of this at the SCRD, along with impacts to personnel. The situation continues to shift daily and much of it remains conjecture, but running buses without collecting fares and maintaining recreation facilities without people paying admission is taking its toll, among other things. We are now starting to collect fares on the buses again, but ridership is 15-20% of pre-covid levels and the buses have to run half empty to allow for social distancing. For recreation, we have requested a report what it would mean to “mothball” a couple of our facilities, meaning that they would be shut down to a level that it would take some time and effort to re-open them, but in the meantime the running costs would decrease. Sophie Woodrooffe from the Coast Reporter put together an article detailing the general situation. This year we lowered taxes by mainly dropping the level of reserve contributions to some of our functions. We can’t keep doing that too often, so before we even add any projects for next year, our tax increase is estimated at 8.8%. Our discussion about service levels will become more of a focus in the coming years, where we may have to make some hard decisions what we can and can’t afford anymore.
Church Road well field AAP
We also have some good news to report, if borrowing millions of dollars is good news. The Province has given permission for Alternate Approval Processes to go ahead in these times of changed circumstances. We are therefore launching an AAP process for the proposed Church Road well field that will take care of up to 50% of our water deficit throughout the summer months. The borrowing amount for this well field will be up to $9 million. This is the second cheapest way to add more water to our system (after the Environmental Flow Needs adjustment, which we are working on, too) and it adds diversification to our water sources, relieves the pressure on our water treatment plant in the long term and also drops the cost for water treatment in the long term. The way AAP’s work is that you have to mail in your objection if you don’t agree with it. Forms can be picked up and entries can be submitted outside our field road office as of June 5th. The deadline for submissions is July 20th.
Want to know your water consumption?
The SCRD is now offering a subscription service where they send you monthly water consumption data for your property. If you email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, utility billing account number and email address, they will send you a monthly consumption update.
Here is mine:
We have two households with approx. 5 people running on that meter, a veggie garden, and a swimming pond that I top up before we hit Stage 3, and we are still at the low end of the median household consumption. Having a rainwater catchment system with 2500 gallons that runs our toilets and yard hydrants helps considerably, I guess. See the table of the distribution of water users below.
Utility bill penalties deferred
Utility bills are due June 15, but the board has decided to defer penalties to your utility bills until September. You can actually pay it off in instalments using a credit card and your myscrd account. For more information, check here.
I know that COVID cases in the Province are low, but let’s continue to keep our guard up. Hopefully I’ll see you out there, from a distance.
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