Regional Director’s Report October/November 2013

wild turkeysIt’s been a while since I last reported to the community so this may be a long one.

The open house/tour by the City of Nanaimo at the Wilcox yard next to the ferry was a look into the future. There is a vision of the cruise ship dock also being used for a foot-passenger ferry service to Vancouver, and a rail connection up and down the island. The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is planning to build a long-needed transit hub on the property and, oh could the Gabriola ferry go there too?

The Rural Water Quality Incentive Program was presented at the meeting of the RDN Sustainability Select Committee (SSC). This program will be for well owners that presently do not meet the provincial groundwater protection regulations. The incentive program would provide a rebate for up to 50 per cent of the total cost of these  five items: surface seal $300, secure well cap $50, well casing stick-up $200, well deactivation $500, and water quality testing $100. The total cost of the program is $25,000 and is now open for the entire RDN for all the details check the RDN web site look under well protection rebates

I walked what may be the Village trail along North Road with RDN staff. From the maps we have it looks like we will be able to keep the trail on the north side of the road (the school side). We are thinking the trail would be two metres wide, have a packed gravel surface, and be as far away from the road as possible. The terms of reference are being developed now for the design and consultation phase and should be ready in the spring.

The Nanaimo School Board met with the RDN about school closures. Gabriola Elementary School is in no danger at this point. This was our first meeting and it will be a regular one that will allow the regional directors to express their concerns on a number of issues that arise.

Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana was a topic in October with new federal government regulations that change the laws for people who grow their own medical pot. The move is to establish a licensing system for commercial production and distribution of dried marijuana for medical purposes. They also wish to phase out the federal government role in growing and selling marijuana. Health and safety concerns with individuals growing in their homes will be addressed by having individuals register with a licensed producer and not grow at home. This may well drive the price of this medicine higher than the user can afford. On the producer side they will need a licence, a secure building with physical security, video surveillance and air-filtration. The product would be delivered by a secure courier as there would be no retail store or face-to-face sales.

I am sure you heard that GERTIE has hauled more than 4,500 passengers so far. This  service needs a bit of a upgrade and they will be coming to the RDN board meeting of Dec 10 to make a request for another Sprinter, bus shelters, and signs for the buses.

Mudge Island

On the Mudge Island front, the Parks and open spaces Advisory committee (POSAC) met, and staff is just waiting to hear back from the surveyors to see when they can get started surveying as many of the accesses as they can in one day. From there we will move to the construction and permit request from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

A few weeks back I met with two members of the Mudge island citizens’ society (MICS). The subject of a recent house fire arose, and we discussed what could be done to get assistance from other areas to help with fire protection. At Tuesday night’s RDN board meeting I made the following   motion: “That the board direct staff to investigate and report to the board on the feasibility of an agreement between the Mudge Island Citizens Society and the Nanaimo Port Authority and the City of Nanaimo (Nanaimo Fire and Rescue) for the provision of assistance in the event of a waterfront fire on Mudge island”. That will take a few weeks to mature and I will get back to you on that one.

Still on the topic of Mudge Island there has been talk about land for everything from a fire hall to community parks, water front dock’s etc. Now is a good time to move forward on any of all these things if the community wishes to do so. Next year is a election year, and if the community shows me there is a desire for something (through letters, phone calls, and emails), we could go to referendum during the election for less cost. Let me know what you would like to do.

The POSAC also looked at a referral from the Islands Trust on parks rezoning, special events, and sign regulations. I am guessing this is a good time to remind you that we are looking for people to join the POSAC for the next couple of years. The POSAC meets three or four times per year, and you can learn as you go. Look on the RDN website under board appointments for the application form.

Septic Smart Workshop

The RDN Septic Smart workshop was well attended with about 50 people. It’s great to see so many people interested in how their septic tank works and how to maintain them. It would be good to see a crowd out as well for the Well Smart workshop. These workshops are a great step to helping people to look after our groundwater.

There are issues at the International Composting Corporation (ICC) – the people who compost our green bin waste. The short version is new owners have taken over ICC, done repairs, and are now asking for $293,000 yearly from the RDN. That took a bit to choke down, but after considering the alterative we asked for a report from staff and will fast-track the discussion. If we move forward on that, the $293,000 would come from higher tipping fees at the land-fill and not a increase in taxes.

And lastly, I know the oil pipelines and tankers are all important issues, but do not forget about that possible incinerator at Duke Point. The Sierra Club in Nanaimo is working on this, and needs help. Contact Carla Stein by email at info@sierraclub.bc.ca

These are busy times and it’s budget season at the RDN as well. Just in case I get snowed under have a great Xmas.

Still having fun,

Howard  Houle
Regional District Director
Area B

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