Hello! The frog choirs have emerged and dusky evenings are expanding. I trust you are also enjoying that winter is in the rear-view mirror and brighter days are ahead. Recently my inbox has had questions about wood-chipping and Last Mile internet, I thought the answers would be of interest broadly so that’s what this report discusses…

Connected Coast & Last Mile fibre optic internet
High speed internet connectivity in our area is a longstanding conversation. The Strathcona Regional District set a strategic priority of ‘improving broadband infrastructure’ and in 2018 created the Connected Coast partnership with CityWest of Prince Rupert. The Connected Coast network is a massive project connecting rural and remote coastal communities with high quality, high speed, fibre optic internet.

By now you probably know that signing up for the “drop-in” is a no-obligation way to have the fibre-optic connection delivered to the end of your driveway.

Addressing some reports regarding this high-speed internet and connections to your home, participation sign-ups from Quadra Islanders has shown there is interest for CityWest to proceed with Last Mile construction. I want to confirm that Last Mile fibre-optic cable to home connections will be built on Quadra Island in both northern ‘remote’ and southern areas.

Connected Coast shoreline ‘vaults’ are being installed on landing sites around our region and Islanders are wondering when Last Mile connections from the vaults to their homes will get underway. While I don’t yet have information on when this will happen, I want to let folks know that construction plans and permitting are underway and as soon as I have a construction start date, I’ll share it with you.

More information on the project can be found at www.connectedcoast.ca and www.citywest.ca/dropping-in

Driftwood on the beach

FireSmart and wood-chipping in 2023
The last several years the SRD has secured grant funding to support our communities becoming more wildfire resilient. The SRD has a Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan for Quadra Island which lists 42 objectives. Vegetation and fuel management is one of the many Wildfire Resiliency goals; for the past three years end-of-driveway chipping & removal of woody debris has been offered to support homes and neighbourhoods FireSmart their yards and properties.

Uptake on wood-chipping grew from the pilot project in 2019 to “overwhelming participation” in 2022. In 2022 the wood-chipping was tens of thousands of dollars over-budget due to the volume of debris piled up which was chipped and trucked to approved locations. This super involvement has meant the program has become a casualty of its success: roadside wood-chipping is not being offered by the SRD this year while other recommendations in the Wildfire Resiliency Plan are supported.

Wildfire Resilience grant funds have not yet been approved by the Union of BC Municipalities for 2023 but if they are, the SRD’s goals include two days of chipping on Read Island, a wildfire resilience prescription for the Quadra Community Centre, and support for the Quadra Island Fire Department with wildfire training.

Was the wood-chipping super helpful to you and your property, and do you think it should be an annual offering? According to Protective Service Coordinator Shaun Koopman, if Islanders want annual wood-chipping in unlimited quantities and the chips returned to homeowners, grant funding isn’t the answer. Wildfire grant funds are limited and our enthusiasm for the service means there would need to be limits, whether by geography, lottery or pile-size, each creating administrative challenges. Woody-debris chipping could be funded by a Service, which would require the desire and support of Islanders. (A Service is an annual requisition, a line-item in our taxes which can be designated for a specific geographic area). Questions, concerns or comments can be sent to skoopman@srd.ca.

Gratitude for volunteers
Daily, I talk to and see community members volunteering, working to make our communities more resilient and supportive in so many different ways. It’s heart-expanding to witness this and is one of the things which makes living here so special. Thank you, thank you, for your generous sharing of time and resources, making where we live a thriving, connected community.

Surge Narrows trail builders

Rob Simpson, Chris Peake and John Barclay are some of the amazing team who worked to reroute the first section of the Surge Narrows trail… which includes a sturdy new bridge, seen here under construction.

If you’d like to connect with me, email RMawhinney@srd.ca, or call/ text 250.203.2468. Until next time,

Respectfully and sincerely,

Robyn Mawhinney