Hello! In this Report there’s news about a bulk water extraction bylaw, the Discovery Islands Affordable Housing Society, and new provincial regulations on public hearings making local ripples.

Bulk water extraction bylaw & public info meeting
Water is a shared resource. Many residents are mindful of water usage and curious to know more about Quadra’s aquifer capacity.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the tension from farmers and neighbours in Merville around a commercial water operation which received a provincial extraction license and is now selling bulk water. Unlike household use, bulk groundwater extraction is licensed by the province. The only tool local government has to deter such an operation is to enact regulations covering specific aspects of such operations that don’t infringe on the Province’s ability to issue licenses.

Knowing many residents’ concerns for water, and learning from Merville, Electoral Area Directors asked staff to draft a bylaw prohibiting bulk water bottling, processing & sales. Bylaw 510 was drafted for Quadra. Bylaw 510 can’t change provincial licensing, but would allow an opportunity for the community to weigh in on any commercial bulk water proposal. If there were to be an operation proposed which the community believed had merit, that would be clear at a public hearing and an exemption could be issued.

Bylaw 510 is regulatory in nature so there is no provision for a public hearing. However, I’m interested in hearing from you so I’m planning a public information meeting to discuss and receive feedback for consideration. The date and time of this information meeting will be advertised in the next short while, stay tuned for an announcement.

Housing Society
This fall and winter the Discovery Islands Affordable Housing Society has been meeting monthly. Some of their current focus includes defining the Values & Vision of the Society, and working to update the basic bylaws which were adopted at the Society’s formation.

DIAHS has their AGM coming up February 19th. Updating the bylaws through amendments, board member nominations & election, and a general update are on the agenda. The AGM is at 7pm in the QCC Main Hall: you’re welcome to attend.

Changes to Public Hearing Regulations
Perhaps you’ve noticed the flurry of new provincial bills and regulations around housing. One is a regulation intended to streamline housing starts, and it has made it illegal for local governments to hold a public hearing if an application for a zoning change fits within an Official Community Plan (OCP). In these instances, there is still public notice (in local newspaper & at srd.ca), and people can put forward written submissions regarding the application to the Regional District.

The provincial change eliminating a public hearing in cases of alignment with an OCP is one which islanders would do well to keep in mind as we embark this spring on the process of updating our Official Community Plan.

Sometimes I hear from folks asking why SRD staff have accepted an application if it doesn’t fit within the OCP or Zoning Bylaws. The mandate of staff is to accept applications, work with applicants, and bring applications to the Board. The Board refers applications to First Nations and provincial agencies for their considered opinions, and then provides the community a chance to have a say in writing or at a Public Hearing, before deliberating with all the submissions gathered. Which is all to say, if something is not permitted in an Official Community Plan or Zoning Bylaw, its generally possible to apply for an amendment.

snow on alder branches

Thank you!
It was a snowy day and still islanders showed up and filled the community centre to learn from Dr Deirdre Cullon about the history of the Ligwilda’xw People. Thank you to Chief Ronnie Chickite for attending and introducing Dr Cullon; thank you to the We Wai Kai Treaty Society for collaborating on the event and all the amazing snacks; thank you to Dr Cullon for braving the snow; and thank you to everyone who also braved the snow to attend and learn.

You’re welcome to connect with me with questions or concerns. Email RMawhinney@srd.ca or call 250.203.2468. If you’d like to chat in person, you can book a meeting at calendly.com/robynmawhinney.

Due to unfortunate technical challenges, the usual print distribution of the Discovery Islander to the mailboxes of Area C couldn’t happen. If you have a neighbour or friend who might like to read this Report, please forward it to them. 😊

Until next time,
Respectfully and sincerely,
Robyn Mawhinney