Hello and happy June. We’ve been enjoying a lot of sunshine already, so I will lead off once again with our favourite topic:
The SCRD is hosting three water engagement seminars that are meant as a forum for the SCRD to share what we are in fact doing, as well as gathering feedback from the community how the future of water will look like on the Coast. Directors and staff will be present in large numbers, and we are trying to change the tone of the discussion in the community, so come on out and learn, share, and be part of the discussion.
Water engagement sessions
Session 1: June 3rd, 4:30-6:30pm at the Sechelt Legion
Session 2: June 4th, 7-9pm at the Sechelt Legion
Session 3: June 5th, 7-9pm at the Gibsons Legion
I hope you’ve all heard by now that we are in another probable drought situation this summer. In fact, our snowpack is now where it was in early July last year. You are worried, we are worried, and rightfully so. We have been looking at a lot of water-related reports lately and have done a number of things that should help. One is the revision of the drought management stages. For more details on those, check here. The big news is that we will no longer allow the sprinkling of lawns past Stage 2. We are choosing to embrace golden lawns for the sake of the food growers on the Coast, who can continue to water their crops all the way up to and including Stage 3. We are also no longer issuing permits for new lawns to be established once Stage 2 hits. Back in the day I didn’t know that I needed a permit for that, and the guy who installed our spray-on-lawn never told me either. We are currently at Stage 1, but Stage 2 will be announced June 7th, unless we get some significant snowfall between now and then.
We also discussed water meters, and we have put the wheels in motion for another Alternate Approval Process (AAP) for water meters, likely to be rolled out at the same time as the Church Rd well funding AAP at the beginning of next year. Hopefully the feds will step up and help out, as they have in the past.
I also got a tour of the water treatment plant at Chapman Creek and Codi Abbott and Raph Shay did an amazing job touring us around the facility. It is a Level 4 treatment plant, the highest standard in Canada.
What blew me away was that the facility uses a lot of chemicals on a monthly basis. See below for a table. If you felt like you needed another incentive to conserve water, here it is. Isopac is the coagulant they use to bind all the sediments in the water together. Soda ash is used to adjust pH. The Polymer catches the last of the contamination.
Donna McMahon, director for Area E, put together a nice article on why we can’t simply say no to new developments until we have more water.
We had a very exciting Infrastructure Services meeting on May 16th, let me tell you. We talked water, and then garbage. We have decided to issue an RFP for curbside organics collection using bins slightly larger than Gibsons (43l) with a more secure latch to prevent wildlife getting in. Pickup will be weekly, and you will be responsible for procuring your own under-the-counter container. You will continue to be able to compost on your own, of course, but this service will also be able to take care of bones, meat scraps, soiled paper and cardboard, as well as compostable packaging. I personally compost everything except those items listed above.
The board hasn’t made a final decision on the opt-out yet, but here are my reasons why I may vote to not allow opting out: - Very few people (apparently less than 50 people in Gibsons) divert 100% of their organics and are opting out. 100% includes bones (burning is not acceptable), meat scraps, soiled paper and cardboard and compostable packaging. - The administrative cost of opting out (creating, reviewing and verifying each application) would have to be paid for by those not opting out - is that fair? People opting out will have to re-apply every year, because the district can’t keep track of properties changing hands and who is doing what. That means the administrative burden will be on-going. - There are virtually no cost savings in the program if people opt out, meaning that those that don’t opt out will have to pay more. The truck will still be driving by. - There are many other services that we all pay for whether we use them or not - schools, recreation, libraries. They are services that everyone cost-shares because we see the collective value in them, and they would be unaffordable if not everyone paid for them. We are looking at the end of our landfill. We have to get the organics out of our garbage. Curbside pickup is the most cost-effective way to do that. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Even if you dispose of your organics in a way that is 100% responsible (no risk of wildlife interaction, no burning of bones, etc.) there is no guarantee your neighbour does or will… creating rodent, bear and other issues. - The increase in cost will be partially offset (approx. 50%) by reducing our curbside garbage pickup to bi-weekly.
We also have some good news, we’ve given the go-ahead for Salish Soils to be our recipient for wood scraps in the future, you’ll be shocked to know, like I was, that for the last little while all wood scraps, clean or contaminated, were just being landfilled off-Coast somewhere. Salish Soils will now do a much better job recycling and re-using the wood. Fees will stay the same, but you won’t have to drive up to the dump anymore.
The SC101 Committee has put together a petition signed by 6000+ people for a real highway along the Sunshine Coast. It would likely follow the power lines all the way into Sechelt, including a new crossing over Chapman Creek. They were looking for support from the board, and I felt that I did need to speak up and voice that there are also many people, especially in the Creek, that don’t want a highway running along the highway, and as long as more thorough community consultation hasn’t occurred, I will not be supporting the SC101 proposal. You can read the news article here. To be clear, if the support in the community is there, I will of course support this initiative, I just feel that a lot of voices are not being heard, and more community consultation needs to occur to see what kind of support is there.
Refining New Short Term Rental Rules
I’m going to just copy and paste Donna McMahon’s comments on this one, as they reflect my own: On May 16 regional directors voted to give second reading to new rules for short term rentals and B&B's in the rural areas. See news article. In my opinion the proposed bylaw amendments still need some more work. However, the process has been under way for a long time, and it's time to take them to the community for feedback. A public hearing has been scheduled for June 18, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at Seaside Centre in Sechelt. If you can't attend you can still make a written submission.
On Friday, May 24th a number of high-school students protested our collective government’s inaction on Climate Change at Davis Bay Pier. I attended, and today’s youth is rightfully concerned about their future. During our Intergovernmental Meeting in May I tried to get all the local governments on the Sunshine Coast to declare a Climate Emergency, and while there was overall support, there was also the excuse of “We’re doing something… “. The student councillors for Gibsons and student trustee for SD 46, Nick Davis, spoke passionately and eloquently in support, and the different governments said “we’ll discuss it at council”, so I hope we will keep the momentum going with this initiative.
There’s much more to say, but I think I’m past everyone’s attention span at this point. You can find me Saturday, June 1, 10-1 at the Gumboot Café.
In case you have any questions or concerns, you can always reach me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org