Time is an ingredient built into local government processes. This report shares details of some of what’s in progress, including bylaws, reports, and an update on an OCP review. ‘Bylaws’ and ‘Reports’ may sound like a yawn but maybe not when you read on…?
There are a couple of ‘Area C specific’ bylaws underway: a zoning bylaw amendment to restrict water bottling & bulk water sales in all zones and an Advisory Planning Commission bylaw.
Community involvement in local decisions was a plank in my candidacy and an Advisory Planning Commission (APC) will provide this. For a community council to have land use decisions referred to it by the SRD it must be formally recognized by the SRD Board and fall within the Local Government Act: an APC fits these requirements. An APC will receive planning land use referrals and provide input to the Board. There’ll be a nomination process for those who are interested, likely autumn 2023. The draft bylaw defines the APC with a maximum of 11 members representing a cross-section of geographic and demographics within our electoral area.
The best time to deal with a problem is before it’s on your doorstep, which is why I’ve been curious what the Strathcona Regional District can do to restrict provincially-managed groundwater extraction. Perhaps you’ve been following what’s happening in Merville around bulk groundwater sales? The Electoral Area Services Committee (EASC) has received a report on what can be done to restrict water bottling and bulk water sales. Electoral Areas B, C & D have moved ahead, requesting staff provide zoning bylaw amendments to restrict water bottling and bulk water sales in all zones. This amendment won’t mean these activities cannot happen but it will force an application to go to public hearing.
Requesting a report brings facts to the table for further discussion. At the Board level two housing-related reports have been requested, one looking for ways the Regional District could take an active role to ensure diverse, sustainable housing is being built, and another investigating the Housing Accelerator Fund available to local governments beginning September 2023.
At the Electoral Area Committee table, I’ve requested reports on short term vacation rentals, solid waste pickup, and long-term roadside parking.
In 2016 there were 54 short term vacation rentals (STVRs) in Area C; in 2021 that number had grown to 177, according to the 2022 Housing Needs Assessment report. The province mention STVRs in their recent Housing Now initiative. While we await what the province envisions, explorations for local solutions are equally important. I understand STVRs may fall under the home occupation provision in the Quadra Island Zoning Bylaw. The report requested is on the legal status of STVRs and avenues for managing their growth.
Outer Discovery Islands residents have been wondering about accessing solid waste and recycling services… something echoed by northern Quadra residents. Other residents have been asking if SRD involvement in solid waste would yield a more reliable & cost-effective garbage pick-up solution. These questions are now on the to-do list of SRD engineers: a report has been requested and there are feasibility funds set-aside if needed.
ICBC’s decision to no longer issue insurance stickers has changed the Ministry of Transportation’s ability to manage long-term roadside parking. As this is something which I’ve had several inquiries about I’ve asked staff for a report on jurisdiction and how it could be managed.
Official Community Plans
At a recent EASC meeting SRD Planning and Engineering staff reported on their work plans for the upcoming year. Big News: Area C Official Community Plans (OCP) are on SRD Planning staff’s work schedule. OCPs for Quadra and the Outer Discovery Islands are currently slated for discussion beginning autumn 2023.
An Official Community Plan is a community undertaking that creates a guide for future land use and development and a statement of community values and goals. As individuals and groups, the work of an OCP is an opportunity to take stock of the ‘now’ and vision-board the future. Who are we and how do we want to evolve; what does a sustainable, diverse island look like? I’m anticipating robust, thought-provoking discussions.
Watershed Security & Biodiversity
A plurality of watershed concerns exists on Quadra and beyond. I was pleased to recently share these concerns with Ministry of Water, Land & Resource Stewardship staff. The ‘WLRS’ Ministry are building a provincial Watershed Security Strategy and invited local government input on their Watershed Security Intentions Paper.
The province is also working on a BC Biodiversity & Ecosystem Health Framework. I attended a day-long multi-sectoral session on this Framework, learning and providing input. I’m hopeful that despite the ‘speed of government’, resource-sector changes are coming, including policies and legislation managing for ecosystem health, biodiversity and resiliency.
Until next time,
Respectfully and sincerely,