Regional Director’s Report June 2013

Lots to talk about in this report. The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) is now up and running, and implementing the new agricultural plan. There were 130 action items for us to start with, we selected 20 and are moving those forward.

The first action item was to have the AAC comment on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) applications for subdivision. In the past the RDN provided no comment at all on any of those applications. The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) has been asked to met with the AAC to better coordinate our plans, I will need to get back to you on that one.

The opening of the Hippy display at the Gabriola Museum was great fun. I haven’t seen so much tie-dye in years. Then there was the music. And where did you get had hair from? The only thing missing was the blue haze over the crowd. Oh and if you were offered a brownie just remember who you got it from.

Engaging with First Nations Communities: Working Together workshop was presented by the Planning institute of BC. The workshop was held at the Shq’apthut ( a gathering place) on the grounds of VIU and had speakers from the first nations and local governments. I find these workshops to be great place to be exposed to a different way of viewing the world, and met and made friends with people from other areas.

The Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC) and RDN staff boated over to Mudge Island for the water access consultation with the community on May 25. It was a beautiful day, and the community came out en masse, I think partly to see what would happen. All went well. There was lots of input, and once we tabulate the results POSAC will meet and make a recommendation on how to proceed.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference was from May 30 to June 3 in Vancouver. I have not been to one of the FCM’s conference before, and found study tours, workshops, and keynote speakers all thought-provoking. The speakers were varied, starting with Rick Hansen who made a very inspiring speech.
Tom Mulcair, leader of the federal NDP spoke of more funding for infrastructure by increasing the amount local government receives from the gas tax by one cent.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party was up next. She was interesting, intelligent, funny and really drew you in to see what the Green’s are all about.

Justin Trudeau separated himself from the pack by understanding that it is local government who knows the most about our crumbling infrastructure. He also supported a national rail transportation system – something that should have been done years ago.

The ribbon-cutting for the new community pilot bus study was next. I would like to thank Island Futures for all the hard work they have done, and for the commitment they have made to the community for the next three years. The first week of the service had 140 riders which is a good start, and remember the bus is funded by ridership for the next three years. I have taken a ride on the bus and found the ride pleasant, the drivers kind and helpful, and the service on time. There will be some growing pains as the bugs get worked out of the system. There were 800 people who signed a petition asking for the community bus and if you do not use it you will lose it.

The RDN took a first step forward with the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation with a dinner at the RDN office. Chief David Bob attended with two of the band council members. Speeches were made food was served and we will eat and talk again soon.

Nanaimo Parks Recreation and Culture Commission (PRCC) had a tour of some of the facilities and parks. A highlights of the tour was the new 66 acres that has been added to north-west side of Butter Tubs Marsh. VIU is capturing and banding birds in the area for their inventory study, it was interesting to see the weighing, measuring, banding, and release going on.

This was the season of tours with the RDN stepping up as well. This tour started with the Church Road Transfer Station and ended at the land-fill in Cedar. The land-fill was the most interesting to me. I just had to see one hawk keep back a few hundred hunger sea gulls. It was amazing to see. The garbage truck pulls up, backs in, a few hundred sea gulls move in, the hawk handler walks out to stand beside the unloading truck and the seagulls and eagles move off.

The collection of gas from the landfill was also right up there in the protecting the environment. Gas that is collected from the landfill is stored and then used to generate power that is sold back to the grid. In the old days we burned the gas off adding to more green house gases.

National Aboriginal Day was up next. This year’s celebration was held at Departure Bay, the traditional home of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. The Snuneymuxw people worked very hard to make sure we were all fed and entertained, with speeches, crafts, drumming, and games. if you missed this one, mark it on your calendar for next year.

After last Tuesday’s RDN board meeting I find myself very concerned about a possible incinerator at Duck Point. Staff tells me there is no proposal to burn 700,000 tons of Metro Vancouver garbage at Duke Point, but Metro Vancouver is looking for a site to do just that. The land at Duke Point is in the City of Nanaimo, so zoning is theirs. The RDN has bylaw 1386 (waste stream management licensing) but the Province can overrule that. So do we wait until some tells us there will be a incinerator at Duke Point or do we step up and let them known that we do not want this future for our grandchildren

Well I think I got it all. If not, well I will try again.

Still having fun,
Howard Houle
Regional Director, Electoral Area B

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