Hello, There have been some lovely sunsets to enjoy this hazy August and yet the smoke reminds us of the frightful loss of homes and forests some locales in BC are experiencing.
Many thanks to BC Wildfire, who with the Quadra Island Volunteer Fire Department (QIVFD) and action-oriented neighbours, quelled the blaze near Village Bay Lake. What a jolting reminder of the need for preparedness and vigilance, and how grateful I am for Quadra’s dedicated volunteer emergency personnel who are ready to leap to action.
As we contemplate wildfire emergencies, you may be happy to learn the SRD recently received a grant to update Quadra Island’s evacuation plan. More good news is a recent SRD FireSmart grant is providing $12,000 for QIVFD wildfire training. And, the SRD is hiring a Regional Wildfire Risk Reduction Coordinator to begin this fall.
When critical events happen, the SRD issues alerts to notify those in affected areas so appropriate steps can be taken to protect themselves and their loved ones. ALERTABLE is the system the SRD uses to issue alerts to landlines, by text and through the mobile app. Receiving timely updates feels reassuring: subscribe through this SRD page.
At the August 16 meeting, the SRD Board voted to consider a Regional Housing Service. Next step: approval of the Inspector of Municipalities to authorize an Alternative Approval Process for bylaws creating the Service and loan authorization. If a Service is regional, all municipalities and electoral areas are included in the requisition (tax) and the Service could be employed wherever there is need.
A Regional Housing Service could address housing challenges that can’t be solved by traditional private sector approaches to meeting housing needs. Attributes of the proposed service are that it could be used to invest in workforce housing, seniors housing, affordable (social) housing and others. The SRD could enter into agreements with housing societies to develop housing solutions for community needs; the SRD would not automatically borrow capital funds or go into debt, but the borrowing authority would provide a source of capital if/when needed.
There’s more involved in this Housing Service: staff have proposed a Housing Action Plan for the Electoral Areas. Their recent verbal report suggested zoning bylaw updates with the intention “to be in a better place to increase densities throughout the Electoral Areas”, and as well, “implementation of a Building Service for Areas B & C”. To date Areas B & C have enjoyed the relative freedom of building to code without a requirement for building permits/inspections — a Building Service would require these.
To me this seems like a fairly monumental change for which community conversations are needed. I’ll plan a public meeting to discuss this once more information is available. I’m interested to hear your thoughts: my contact info is at the end of this report.
To date the Board has not received the report examining the potential of including Area C (+ Areas A & B) in the Strathcona Gardens Service. Thank you to the folks who’ve emailed the Chair and Board your thoughts on this proposal and to those who directly connected with me as well. So far, a preponderance of letters have highlighted why Area C residents should not be asked to pay a significant annual tax for the Strathcona Gardens (pool and rink) amenity.
Bylaw 487 is no longer on the table. Considering the demonstrated public sentiment on this issue, taking the matter to a referendum didn’t seem reasonable. A staff report on next steps and possible actions was supported by the Board, which means “wharves… to be continued, watch this space”.
Last Call! A final reminder that Advisory Planning Commission applications are being accepted till September 6. See previous Reports or srd.ca for more info.
You’re welcome to connect with me with questions or concerns. Email RMawhinney@srd.ca, or call 250.203.2468.
Until next time,
Respectfully and sincerely,
Photos in this edition: driftwood & haze on the southend; sun through smoke near Morte Lake; thistles in a woodlot; fuzzy garden bounty.