November 2019 Newsletter
Welcome to December! The weather as I write this has been cold and dry, and I do hope that we get some more rain down here and snow up high.
We received a report on the feasibility of building a reservoir and out of all the potential locations the one that scored the highest, except for cost, was Site B. It would be the largest man-made structure on the Coast and here is a picture with a BC ferry floating on it for scale.
This kind of structure comes at a cost. The preliminary estimates (+/- 30%) are $53 million. That’s the cost of 17 Church Rd. well fields. Yes, we may get a hefty grant to fund this, but that doesn’t mean we’re not paying for it. It also does not diversify our water sources, continuing our dependence on Chapman Creek as, while our watershed is still being logged and there are several unstable areas along the creek that could slide and wreak havoc. That being said, having the reservoir would give us some protection from adverse events in the watershed, as we would have a 20-day reservoir for our drinking water while the water in the Creek has a chance to clear. I voted in favour of Phase 3 for the development of the reservoir, which is bringing the project to the stage of being shovel ready. This includes various permits with the provincial government, geo-technical testing, sorting out land ownership and calculating impacts. The reasons I chose to go forward with this at this point with this study are:
1. We need to be shovel ready to be able to apply for grants. This will take several years, and in the meantime we can hopefully find a few more well sites that would make this reservoir redundant.
2. It is too risky to hedge our bets on wells when they may or may not be the answer, but as I was quoted in the paper for saying “I want to turn the Coast into Swiss Cheese before I raise my hand for this reservoir.” I believe we should be able to find all the water we need in the immediate and medium-term from aquifers. We just need to do some more well testing, which includes drilling holes. The board has voted to expand the exploration of potential well sites and is asking for a budget proposal on that.
Most of us in the Creek have a septic field. It gets pumped out once every couple of years and that in turn goes to Dusty Rd. in Sechelt, where it is processed. As a means to save water in the summer time, Sechelt and the SCRD are exploring ways to add the reclaimed water out of the Sechelt wastewater treatment facility and add it back to Chapman Creek below our intake to help us meet the minimum flow requirements mandated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The SCRD also operates 15 community septic systems, including one in Roberts Creek: Co-housing. Staff has prepared a report in our November CAS Agenda (p.244 is where co-housing starts) outlining the condition of the treatment facility, and what would need to be charged to operate this facility at a reliable level and to build reserves for asset replacement. It’s scary. We are doing some engagement with the co-housing community on Dec. 8th to discuss some options.
Short term rentals (STR)
The new STR regulations (p. 177-221) came before the board for 3rd reading. After the public hearing and with a lot of time to think about it I decided that enabling landowners to do offsite AirBnB rentals through the use of a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) is not in the interest of our community. I suggested that the only way to permit STR is with an onsite operator, whether it is the owner or a caretaker that is renting long term. Donna McMahon and I voted against pursuing TUP’s the other 3 rural directors voted for staff to bring back a report outlining a detailed plan on what it would take to implement the TUP’s. I voted against that, as well, as I think it’s just wasting staff’s time to research something that’s ultimately not in the interest of our community. Another reason why I chose to vote against the further exploration of TUP’s is because it prolongs the limbo we are in between public hearing and 3rd reading, and we are not allowed to admit any new information during this time, so please don’t try to contact me regarding this right now, because I can’t do anything with it. For a full report on my reasons why I don’t like TUP’s, check the previous blog entry.
Last month I reported on our budget process starting earlier, and now I’m here to tell you that our Round 1 Budget will be happening the first week of December. December 4th will be all the external parties like libraries, community school societies and other non-profits coming for their ask, December 5&6th will be budget proposals by the departments of the SCRD. We are starting to move budget time forward to coincide with the calendar year so that staff can have more time to execute on the budget for the next year.
Donna McMahon’s newsletter
Donna, as usual, has an excellent newsletter and if you haven’t had your fill of local politics, she covers some of the same ground I do from her perspective, plus she’s got some interesting thoughts on green waste, wood waste, climate change, and supporting active transportation, among other things. You can also find out what this picture is all about.
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