A lot has happened in the last few months starting with the RDN signing cooperation protocol agreement with the Qualicum First Nation. This agreement lays out a path on how we support each other to achieve common goals in a respectful and trusting way.
We also spent a great deal of time choosing a new CAO for the RDN’s top spot. Phyllis Carlyle was chosen she comes to us from the city of Richmond where she worked for 12 years.
The annual Gabriola Community Hall Salmon BBQ went very well, raising more funds for the hall insurance and repairs that are under way. The Rollo center, community hall and the museum all received funds from the Community works funds for renovations in the last few months.
Union of British Columbia municipalities (UBCM) was at the end of September and I had several things on my list to do.
First up was a meeting with Minister Todd Stone to talk about the blockage at the Village Way on Gabriola with MOTI. What we are trying to do is change the RDN area B parks by law to allow construction and maintains of trails in the MOTI right of way. With that change the RDN can tax for the service which was one of the things MOTI wanted.
Second was a meeting with Minister Fastbender and Ariene Paton assistant deputy minister of Population and Public Health to talk about potable water from rainwater. Our request was for the Ministry of Health to develop a comprehensive, research-based framework for approving rainwater as a potable water source for small water systems. In doing so the province would improve the prospect of rainwater being used as a safe alternate drinking water source where needed in rural communities .We suggested that the frame work include , rainwater source characterization protocols, Rainwater infrastructure guidelines, and rain water treatment objectives and standers .These changes would help businesses who are using rainwater now and cannot get their systems approved because there are no provincial standers .This would also give the home owner’s who are using rain water as a drinking water have a stander to aspire too.
After two days of running around doing that business it was time for the UBCM convention to start. About 30 minutes into the convention I received notification from BC Hydro that the power and communication lines to Mudge and Gabriola islands were down and would be for some time. I called the RDN emergence services to see what was needed and returned to the island to help where I could. This is a good time to look at what you have set aside for a long term power outage form a larger scale disaster. Over all Gabriola were well prepare but I did see holes in our overall emergence plan and we are working to change that.
Mudge Island had a piece of water front property come up for sale on Dodd’s narrows. This land was something the whole community used to watch the whales pass, remember past friends or just sit and watch the world go by. The community wanted this special place as parkland as they only have one other park at the south end of the island so this addition was needed. The RDN had to move with lighting speed to secure the property as there was another buyer with an offer on the table. Fortunately we had a motion on the books from parks and open spaces advisor committee (POSAC) to purchase this lot on Mudge as community parks and we had done an evaluation of the property a year ago. At that point I had a hard decision to make, the local government act allow me to do a short term borrowing without going to the public for approval. I did not like going this way as I do believe you should be consulted before your taxes go up. The but is if we went the way of a referendum the land owner would have taken the other offer. Mudge islanders have paid for area B parks for years and now they needed a little help to have one on their island. I did approve a short term loan to make the purchase with the Mudge island land trust contributing $8,000 and GALTT $10,000 and the RDN $12,000 from a Mudge island water access fund .The $18,000 will to pay down the loan and reduce the length of the loan to less than 5 years.
October 06 the opened at VIU in the art Gallery. The opening started at the VIU theatre with several hundred people attending. Garry Manson from the Snuneymuxw honoured us with an opening welcome and a prayer followed by a drumming and singing. It is very hard to describe the emotion and power that was in the room I called it the power of the witness blanket. I was very honored to speak for the RDN after our host VIU. Doug White acting chief for the Snuneymuxw, the maker of the witness blanket Carey Newman, and several First Nations spoke on how good it was to have the blanket in Nanaimo. My take away from this was that the RDN really opened up our relationship with the First Nations as the Witness Blanket means so much to them and all of us. The blanket closed as of November 30th so if you have not seen it you will need to go to the main land
VIU also had a totem rising, this one was from the Kwak’wala first nations. This was the last of three totem poles next to the gathering place representing the three First Nation’s language groups on Vancouver Island.
Look at the VIU web site under soup and bannock series, these are a series of short lectures on first nations and reconciliation, the series is free and you get soup.
November started out slow but that did not last long. At the soup and Bannock this month Ralf Neilson spoke about reinvesting in reconciliation. He also spoke about the Canada leaning bond and the need to register your children for this free money for education.
The RDN stepped outside the box inviting the three First Nations in the RDN to meet with us and talk about things we are concerned about. This was a historic meeting as no one remembers having all the First Nations in the same room before. The talks were open truthful and left us feeling very positive about the future as we agreed to start meeting quarterly.
On Nov 20th Buffy Saint Marie gave a rare solo performance at the port theater. I noticed a large group from Gabriola at this wonderful performance. The day following I was invited to VIU for a special meeting of the convocation society too give Buffy a doctorate of laws. Following all that fun it was back to budget and committee meetings.
As November 30th the final day of the Witness Blanket being in Nanaimo approached it gave me time to reflect on the many good things that have happened and will happen in the future because the blanket was here. I wish the people who will have the blanket come to their community the same wonderful things that have taken place there.
All for this is my report. Hope to talk again soon,
Still have fun,