The only constant is Change
Keeping Roberts Creek awesome
I came into this position with very little experience in local government. I am now updating this document two years into my mandate and much of what I wrote in my original platform still holds true. Here is a link to the current OCP so you can inform yourself on what the community is already working on. This OCP was developed over a number of years by passionate members of the Roberts Creek community, including the former long-term director of Area D, Donna Shugar. It is a fine document with many great ideas and guidelines. I generally agree with everything in that OCP. That being said, the document was completed in 2012, and since then several important issues have come to the forefront.
My general plan
I believe in a proactive form of government. We are currently scrambling to find solutions to some issues that have reared their ugly head in the last few years, like water, solid waste and affordable housing. Much of it has come on more quickly than anyone expected, but I believe we can catch up on these issues and then create a plan that will take us into the future with more resilience to extraneous forces, be it climate change, real estate value or waste management. We have some very current and urgent issues that need solving, and my intention is to find long-term solutions and plans for these issues that will incorporate the needs of our community now, and into the future. To go from reactive to proactive, additional resources will be needed in terms of staff, training and infrastructure investment, so don't expect your taxes to go down, but many of our areas, and especially our infrastructure, have been underfunded in the past.
During my Masters, my research involved the municipality of Whistler, and their visionary Whistler 2020 document, which looked 15 years into the future, and allowed them to leverage immense and lasting benefits from the Olympic Games that have paid off positively in the long run. While the SCRD does not have the deep pockets, or the Olympics, I still see a benefit in looking ahead past the four years of an election cycle and creating a plan that goes well into the future, especially in this time of climate change, population growth, and resource scarcity. We have now created our new strategic plan and I am happy to report that we as a board have come together to create a plan that closely mirrors my personal mandate.
Probably the most divisive issue in this election, finding more drinking water for the Coast, is a key priority. Two years into my mandate we have moved forward considerably towards finding some solutions to our water crisis. We have heard from the Ministry of Environment that the Chapman Drawdown is no longer an option. We are now forging ahead with a well site at Church Road in Granthams Landing that could reduce our current deficit by 50%. We are also moving ahead on adding additional well capacity at the Langdale well and connecting it to the Chapman water system, enhancing the intake at Gray Creek to be able to take water year-round, and creating a new well field at Meriann West Park. We have found out that it is very expensive to build a reservoir. Estimates are $53 million and climbing, and considering that we now have some solutions to take care of our water deficit up to 2035, we are putting the development of a reservoir on hold. Nonetheless, as we move forward we are currently still keeping all options open so that we can make the best decisions going forward as more information becomes available. The best way to save everyone money and also the fastest way to keep water in our pipes is to conserve. The best incentive to conserve is to have water meters. Why? Simple: What gets measured gets managed. The cost of water on the Sunshine Coast is going to increase, because these capital investments in our system are on the horizon. I believe that the increased cost should be carried by those that also use the most water. Without incentives to conserve water, very little conservation will happen. With metered water in place, other measures like rainwater collection and
grey water recycling will become more attractive. That being said, a tiered system will have to be established so that farmers and industrial users aren't charged the same as households, as we want to encourage farming on the Coast. I look forward to the discourse with the community on this matter.
According to this article, our landfill could be full as soon as 2026. We need to create a plan now to make a smooth transition to our next option. We don't have any backup sites, and a recent report on new options suggests a new landfill in the Halfmoon Bay area may be the best option. This process takes time though, so we may have to ship our garbage off-Coast for a few years until the new landfill is in place. Gibsons has moved from collecting garbage weekly to bi-weekly, freeing up some capacity to collect bio waste. We have now implemented curbside food collection in our electoral areas B, D, E and F, collecting over 10 tons per week in food waste and diverting it from the landfill.
Here is a link to the current solid waste management plan
Affordable rental housing is already a big issue on the Sunshine Coast. This is as a result of several factors: A recent influx of new people to the Coast, the increase of rental rates and real estate prices, and the removal of viable rental properties due to the conversion to short-term vacation rentals. I believe that we need to investigate options to create a viable, sustainable community that accommodates all walks of life here. In Roberts Creek, around the downtown core, some increased density is already present in the form of the co-housing development, but I believe that in order to accommodate those looking to live in a small, low-maintenance home, with possible mobility issues, some low-rise apartment buildings may be a solution. I'm looking forward to engaging in community dialogue on this matter.
I certainly have opinions and thoughts about many other things, so check out my blog, as I will continue to build this site as a discussion forum.