Regional Director’s Annual Report 2014 in Review

missionDoing a year in review is sometimes difficult – you start something in January and by September it turns into something a bit different. So here it goes: 

The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) board is one of the committees I joined last year as the RDN representative. Over the course of the year we could see things that need to be changed, as a number of maintenance issues had been put on hold so the VIRL could expand. As it turns out, that may not be a good plan, so we changed to a new plan which will help us establish reserves and deal with the results of our former decisions.

What that comes down to is tax increases for the library of five per cent. That is not my favourite number.

The upside is the library is moving more towards eBooks and upgrading to make the libraries more community friendly.

Over the last year the RDN Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) has been working on removing barriers to agriculture in the regional district and networking with local groups to encourage more local farming of all kinds.

The RDN has also been working hard on our relationship with the three First Nations in the regional district. We have had dinner together, celebrated the opening of a health center, attended a ground-breaking for a new community building, national aboriginal days, and several reconciliation events, added the recognition of First Nations to the start of the RDN board meetings, and hope to host the witness blanket with the larger community in 2016. At our December 9th inaugural meeting of the board all three First Nations came to celebrate the new board. I must admit it was a historic moment for the RDN to have all the nations there wishing us well and the drums still echo in our hallways.

The Gabriola museum will enjoy funding of $12,000 a year for the next three years, at that time the bylaw that they are being funded through will have expired. The volunteers of the museum have been doing a great job at preserving and recording our past.

Early in 2014 the RDN got 40 new compressed natural gas busses, which have delivered a big cost-saving in fuel and air quality. I hope to have some numbers for you soon.

Talking about busses, GERTIE has performed so well with close to 300 people per week using the service. The need now is to expand the fleet as there are not enough seats on some runs. To help with the upgrade “Thomas-the bus” is up for sale, so let’s find him a new home so we can move to a newer bus.

When we first started this service I was a bit hesitant but with the hard work of island Futures, and all the other volunteers that keep things running, this has turned out to be a needed service in our community. A very hardy thank you to all who have helped make this a reality.

Trails have been high on the agenda this past year. In Parksville /Qualicum, and out in Coombs, there are trails being worked on to connect communities. The RDN has also partnered with the City of Nanaimo and several other groups to work on the E & N trail. The Village trail for Gabriola is still with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, waiting for their approval.

I know you have heard THIS a few times: “We are working on the Huxley park master plan”. But we ARE closer to finalizing costs. Some will make you wonder how a slide or swing-set can be that expensive. But in the end we need recreation activities for our youth first and then we will work on the adults facilities.

The Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC) met in the spring and passed a motion to work with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) on a social/economic study of the cuts to service and increasing fares at B.C. ferries. The report showed that increasing fares and decreasing service has cost the province 2.3billion dollars in GDP over the last 10 years. Unfortunately the provincial government is only concerned with having a balanced budget and do not seem to care who that hurts.

Ken Stefansson’s musical send off was not to be missed, we will miss one of Gabriola’s interesting creators.

There was also the opening of the Theater Festival and the dedication of the Holland Stage in the name of Antony Holland. Speeches and bands were numerous at that one, celebrating the life of Mr. Holland and his many contributions to theater of all kinds.

Suddenly it was November and time to pay tribute to our veterans of past wars. Then the local election with congratulation two new Islands Trust trustees elected for a four year term.

I was acclaimed to office of RDN director for the next four years. Thank-you for the vote of confidence.

Then came RDN budget discussions for the coming year, the holidays, and a few days off before starting 2015.

I wish you all the best in 2015

Still having fun.

Howard

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