Regional Director’s Report September 2017

September has been a busy month.  The Huxley Park tennis courts were resurfaced, a project we have been waiting to get done for several years. Next for Huxley Park development was the skateboard park design consultation held on September 13th when islanders got a look at the concept and made suggestions resulting in changes to the design.  Once the final design and costing are done we can start to look for grants at the Provincial and Federal levels.  When you’re looking for grants of this kind community support is a very critical part of the application.  An enthusiastic group are going to be fundraising for the park and their target is $72,000.

You may have noticed that Huxley Park has been closed for a few days as we started work on the playground, a much needed facility for the young families we are attracting to the island. The completion date is the end of November.

On September 22nd, 2017 I arranged for several senior RDN Staff members to meet with me and two members from the Gabriola Island Community Hall Association (GICHA) Board , Alessandro Lachelli and Laurie McDonald. The purpose of the meeting was to see how we could move the Board’s requests forward. Funding the Community Hall from local taxes is a problem because the way the RDN funds these things is through service bylaws. Both the Gabriola Recreation Society (GRS) and GERTIE are funded this way; they each provide a service, a recreation service and a bus service.  Renting the Community Hall out is not a fundable community service but it is very important for the community to have access to facilities like it.

Part of our discussion was about what the RDN could and would fund and what we could not and would not fund. As a starting point we used the Board’s wish list by first isolating sports/recreation related items like carpet bowling , squash courts, etc. that we would not be funding,  as we fund all recreation services  through the Gabriola Recreation Society (GRS) services contract. What that means is that those who want these recreation activities to be available need to go the GRS to request them. Other things we could not fund were admin-related services, paid program/event coordinator, newsletter, database, etc. Other facility related items listed including showers, saunas, electronic reader boards, etc. were left. In the end what remained were a generator, an HVAC system, window replacement, lighting upgrades, and a lengthy list of long term facility maintenance items.

Then we discussed an alternative to increasing local taxes:  all facility maintenance work could be funded from the Community Works Funds (CWF) at up to $40,000 dollars per year. The GICHA Board could then apply for matching funds through grant applications that could leverage that to up to $80,000 per year.  The Board would still need to prepare a plan and costing for each facility repair just as every other group the RDN funds does. Currently, the RDN Board is waiting to hear what the Board would like to do.

The Rollo Centre’s application for funding from the CWF was approved at the October 3rd, 2017 RDN Board Meeting for up to $42,000 dollars to finish the renovations that were started a few years ago. This group has been a pleasure to work with as they always come to the table with every cost itemised and all permits in place under a very clearly defined plan.

In October the RDN Board also approved a service agreement with the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce to provide economic development for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, DeCourcy, Mudge Islands). There will be regular updates, an annual work plan and a yearly budget to be approved by the RDN Board.

The RDN Board topped up the funds for the playground at Huxley Park by $66,500. Playgrounds are expensive but we believe they are a good investment in the future.

The RDN board also approved the parks bylaw referral from the Islands Trust for the Potlatch subdivision. This would be the 16.4 hectares of parkland off of Church Street next to the medical clinic. The Islands Trust will need to move this on to the Province for approval, and at time of subdivision we will get the land in question.

Emergency Reception Centre (ERC)

I would like to make it clear that I did not dream up this mess, I inherited it. Ten years ago the RDN designated the Community Hall the south end as an ERC, but did not do a readiness and suitability study. RDN staff tells me that if that study had been done at that that time the Community Hall would not have been designated as an ERC.

Moving forward to 2015 the RDN Board passed a motion to install a generator at the south end ERC, however, there was a staffing problem and readiness and suitability study and installation did not happen. Late in 2016 RDN Staff and I met with members of the Community Hall Board, their maintenance person and the electrician. The RDN asked for a load demand study on the building’s electrical system to determine what the draw on a generator would be.

Because RDN Staff was already doing a readiness and suitability study for the Community Hall we also included one for the United Church, now called Christ Church just up the road as an ERC as well.

Gabriola Island United Church: 30 kW generator w/ install: $ 55,855.00 CAD (taxes not included) A 30 kW generator can provide full electricity for the Gabriola United Church including heat, appliances, lights and other electrical needs.

Gabriola Island Community Hall: 50 kW generator w/install: $ 61,825.00 CAD (taxes not included). A 50 kW generator cannot be used to provide full power to the GICHA Hall and will only cover appliances, lights, etc. but not heat. Gabriola Sounder News September 19th, 2017

The report from RDN staff recommended moving the ERC to a more suitable location ie. to Christ Church  but  the church has declined being designated as an ERC at this time. We are now looking at other locations for an ERC, but do note that we have a mobile ERC in the south end so we are still covered.

What has come out of this discussion on Gabriola is Islanders do not understand what an ERC is. The best description I have heard was “a kiosk in the midst of chaos”.  There is no service at an ERC other than registration so we know where you are, via sending you to a hospital or hotel, etc. There are no supplies or staff to look after you in an ERC in a local emergency.

Another related topic is where will people go in a large scale regional disaster? After seeing all the problems in the southern U.S. and the Caribbean, there is a desire to have a bigger emergency plan than what the RDN emergency plan can provide. Originally the Province recommended that we needed to be prepared to look after yourself and resident dependents for 78 hours but are now extending that to one week. Download a copy of the PreparedBC: Household Preparedness Guide (PDF) . Create a Household Emergency Plan and Build an Emergency Grab-and-go Kit.

 

Still having fun,

Howard

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