October 2019 Newsletter
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Grind… The weather is being adventurous, I hope everyone voted and we have our new MP, Patrick Weiler. I’m looking forward to meeting him. A big thank you to my alternate director, Tim Howard, for holding down the fort while I was away for a few weeks. The directors had nothing but good things to say about his engagement at the board table.
Tim Howard being awesome
Here’s what’s new in October:
We have submitted our application with the BC government for our well field on Church Rd, and considering the in-house expertise of our Manager of Infrastructure Services, Remko Rosenboom, who used to be the guy signing off on these applications before he started with the SCRD, I am confident that we are moving as quickly as possible to get through the red tape. I am also really looking forward to the November Infrastructure Services meeting, on November 21, 9-12, where we will be getting updates on future reservoirs, among other things.
We had a delegation in our Planning and Community Development meeting this month that pointed out the sad shape our playing fields are in. Both Cliff Gilker Park and Shirley Macey have drainage problems, and apparently it was due to the use of less-than-ideal sand being used during their construction. We did get a rough estimate of what the refurbishment of these field would cost, and it’s about $1.2 million for Shirley Macey alone. Apparently the SCRD fields are not the only ones that have issues, and Director McMahon did point out that we need a regional strategy so that we are putting our dollars to best use. Brothers Field (a Town of Gibsons field) is in rough shape and is much more centrally located, with better access to public transit. Shouldn’t it be fixed first?
Cliff Gilker Park on a sunny day without puddles
Strategic Plan & Budget
We officially adopted our new strategic plan and it is ambitious. It is progressive. It addresses some very large issues, including water, solid waste, and climate change. It is a considerable change of pace from previous strategic plans. This is good in many ways, but the biggest drawback is that much of this is going to cost money, one way or another. We had a preliminary look at our 2020 budget, and it’s going to be a doozy. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but nobody has added capacity to our Chapman Water System in about 40 years. The budget for water main replacements has not changed in 15 years, and our pipes have not gotten better. We are understaffed in several departments, and if we want to implement some of the plans we are creating, like adding wells and reservoirs, we need people to execute these plans. Climate Change is also starting to create some real costs, with more emphasis needed on emergency planning, our water situation, and when we are buying new vehicles, they may have to be electric. Our Transit system is getting busier and will likely expand in the future. The Roberts Creek Fire Department Engine 1 has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. Thankfully we have some reserves to pay for that. You can stem the tide for so long, but at some point the dam will break. As a board we feel that it is our responsibility to do the right things that will help us in the long run.
Some highlights from Donna McMahon’s newsletter (Thanks Donna!):
It's all about Collaboration
One of the top priorities for SCRD directors is better collaboration between local governments. Together we are Team Sunshine Coast, and here are a few things we're doing.
Oct. 3 the SCRD had a meeting with qathet (Powell River) regional district—the first that's been held in years. We identified joint priorities, including a bus service from Vancouver to Powell River that would provide transportation where there is currently no service (north of Halfmoon Bay).The SCRD and Sechelt are looking into a shared Public Works site. Both governments need facilities—can we save money and improve efficiency by sharing?We're working with community members on a coastwide playing field strategy.
We are very very close to hiring a new Chief Administrative Officer for the SCRD. Stay tuned for an announcement in the next couple of weeks.
With a recent arrest, we hope we've seen the end of break-ins at SCRD facilities. The bus yard, Sechelt landfill and Pender Harbour transfer station were all hit this fall. The cash loss was minimal (none of the sites keep a lot of money on hand) but the damage and disruption was significant and upsetting to staff and the public.
Local employers are crying for staff, including VCH, the RCMP and the School District. People won't move to the coast because they can't find accommodation, or they're leaving because they can't afford to live here. If you have a secondary suite that's sitting empty, please consider renting it out.
Have a happy Halloween!
In case you have any questions or concerns, you can always email me.