Newsletter for February 2019
Our newsletter community keeps growing, and for good reason. The board is moving along with some big decisions that impact us all.
Chapman Drawdown is a Letdown
Probably the biggest news of the month is that the Provincial government has turned down the application to amend the park boundaries for Tetrahedron Provincial Park in order to enable us to modify the dam structure in place on Chapman Lake to get more water out in summer. It is good to see some finality in that regard and this makes it possible for us to move on with our other options without spending any more time and money evaluating this option. I’m very happy that our groundwater situation looks promising and we just received some news on another option: Reservoirs.
The previous board initiated a study into the possibility of building a reservoir that would be filled during our rainy season in order to be able to draw from it during our dry season. We are not talking about a couple of tanks behind the Chapman Creek Intake… The size of this reservoir needs to be as big in volume, if not a little bigger than Chapman Lake (900,000 – 1.3 million cubic meters) in order to make up a fair percentage of the deficit we are facing now and in the future. The company Integrated Sustainability was engaged to do this work and you can see a brief version of their report here. They were looking in three different areas along the Chapman Creek watershed, all at different elevations.
Of course, building something of that size will not be without cost. Estimates range from $9-24 million. The board voted to continue with feasibility studies on those reservoir options. So far only desktop studies have been done; the next phase includes field investigation of the four sites. The estimate for those studies are over $300,000.
The SCRD has renewed their contract with Waste Management to handle the garbage pickup, but the current board has chosen to hit a reset button on the Organics and Recycling collection. It looks like the rural areas (B,D,E and F) are leaning towards an Organics pickup that will closely resemble that of Gibsons, including the frequency being weekly, the bins being the same size, and the option to opt out for those that can attest they already divert 100% of their organics (including bones and meat scraps). It is essential that we get all organics out of our landfill, as it is reaching capacity (7 years remaining) and organics are 45% of our garbage. Organics in the landfill also contribute considerably to climate change, as their anaerobic decay there creates methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Below are the results of a survey done to show how much diversion is actually taking place.
Curbside pickup for recycling is a difficult one to decide on, as the pickup will only take care of paper, cardboard and hard packaging, similar to Vancouver. You will still have to go to the depots for the rest of the products. Some argue that by offering curbside pickup that the temptation to not divert the rest of our recyclables increases. Some people don’t have the means to make it to the recycling depot with their recycling. Due to the subsidy from Recycle BC, the service will not be super costly for us in Roberts Creek, but Area E and F will not be able to take advantage of these subsidies for historical reasons. More information is needed to make a good decision on recycling. I am tempted to continue with the depot model, and to try to create neighbourhood initiatives to support those unable to bring their recycling to the depot. I would welcome your input.
The fact that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is planning to make Largo a through-road is continuing to cause concern in the local community. The fear is that it will become a shortcut for those wishing to connect from the Heart of the Creek to Gibsons and/or the B&K road. The OCP Committee, the APC Committee and a number of local residents have all suggested that a cul-de-sac may be a better option. The board will be voting on whether they support that idea on March 14thduring our Planning and Community Development Committee meeting.
We have just concluded our Round 2 Budget talks and the draft numbers are in. We are looking at an 8.28% increase in our tax requisition this year, which will reflect itself in an average increase of 5.72% in our property taxes. Why so much? Probably the biggest reason is that we are now seeing the real impacts of adapting to and mitigating climate change, and it is starting to impact our wallets.
For example, we have achieved a 13% decrease in water consumption through leak detection and conservation efforts within the Chapman Creek water system over the last few years, yet we continue to have a substantial water deficit in our increasingly drier summers. We have given the go-ahead to apply for a well field at Church Rd in Grantham’s landing that will likely cost around $3 million to install. We have also voted to expand our feasibility study to build reservoirs in the Chapman Creek watershed.
We also have a lot of aging infrastructure in need of replacement, especially in our water system. This Infrastructure deficit is forcing our staff to work on repairs, rather than proactively plan and create a resilient network.
While the direct costs for these infrastructure expenditures will likely be paid by utilities, we are hiring three new people in our water team to deal with the expanding complexity of our water system.
Our landfill is less than seven years from reaching capacity, and not enough money was set aside to provide for its closure. We are trying to close the gap, and at the same time we are needing to look at what comes after it is full.
Cost of construction has also been increasing by 20% a year over the last few years, so new infrastructure, like the new Cooper’s Green Hall in Halfmoon Bay are going to cost considerably more than in the past. For a good preliminary view of our budget after Round 1, here is a link to the Draft Financial Plan for 2019-2023.
Advocacy & Looking ahead
In the meantime, the SCRD board is moving along with advocating for our interests at a provincial level. We’ve had talks with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) and the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation to advocate for the creation of and the participation in a collaborative land use planning process, especially around our watershed and the rural-urban interface. The Shishalh and Squamish First Nations are also a huge part of this, and we will be meeting with both Nations in the coming month to establish and build our relationship with them. I am really looking forward to getting to know them better and to hear their story. We will also have an intergovernmental meeting on March 15ththat will include all the local governments. Among other things we will be talking about the possibility of declaring a Climate Emergency. Grant-in-Aid time is coming up, so if you have a worthwhile initiative make sure you get your application in before April 1st.
In case you have any questions or concerns, you can always reach me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This newsletter will also be published to my blog at https://andreastize.com