Greetings! The green haze of spring growth and getting my hands into garden soil are sure sparking joy when I’m not looking at a screen. It’s been almost six months since I’ve been sworn in, and I continue to be grateful for the trust and support of the community. Director is a big role, I’m enjoying its multi-faceted nature.

Forestry: Recently I attended a virtual session focused on the Province’s approach to implementing the Old Growth Strategic Review recommendations. At the core of the Old Growth Strategic Review is the understanding that forests are a complex biological resource and old forests contribute to biodiversity, resilience and adaptability.

The Province is embarking on implementing the 14 recommendations presented in the Review, and the simultaneous evolution of forestry culture in BC. At the session I heard this work is intended to bring transformational change to the forestry sector through First Nations involvement within reconciliation; ecosystem health and resilience; inclusive and stable governance which includes First Nations and communities; and credible, understandable information which will be shared publicly.

The operational objective of the work is to protect ecosystems at risk. More robust management is planned, with biological resources being paramount. Inventory and classification will be undertaken. There is an expectation of innovation within the silviculture system: innovation to continue deriving wealth while protecting biodiversity. This video is quite informative.

Recommendation #2 in the Strategic Review involves transformative change across all sectors and ecosystem types. This looks beyond logging and will affect all industrial uses such as mining. To achieve this change, a Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Framework is being developed to manage ecosystem health and minimize biodiversity risks. The Framework is being co-developed with First Nations and is intended as a paradigm shift in BC. Stewardship, socio-economic resilience, climate change, and individual, community & society health are Framework considerations.

As a temporary decline in the Annual Allowable Cut takes place, the Province is prepared & preparing for community impacts. There are programs to offset negative economic effects for forestry workers, businesses and communities. These range from worker transition services to the grant program REDIP, which supports economic diversification, resilience and economic infrastructure in rural communities.

I’m curious what impacts these changes are having (or may have) on our community? What are the needs for support? How can we diversify our local economy and derive valuable employment from an updated forestry sector? I welcome your thoughts by email, phone call or in-person chat!

nettles

Reconcili-Action: Recently I spent three days with local government colleagues from Sooke to Bella Bella, at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities AGM & convention. There was loads of learning and meeting interesting people. One of the highlights for me was a session called Reconcili-Action, shared by Director John Jack, member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and Chair of the Alberni-Clayquout Regional District. I’m excited to take my learning to the SRD’s First Nations Relations Committee and do some focused work on relationship building.

QCove Sewer: The SRD was recently awarded a $10k Provincial grant towards a capacity sewer study in Quathiaski Cove. This study will undertake the research needed to evaluate the current system and consider potential system impacts if more development occurs in Quathiaski Cove within the sewer system boundary. The QCove system was purchased second-hand close to 30 years ago and “with increased age comes increased risk of failure” according to the SRD website.

The study will look for engineering upgrades if feasible, and system replacement recommendations for if grant funding is secured. More information about the scope of the study available here. The engineering department of the SRD is actively seeking funding opportunities to replace the QCove sewer system.

Non-profits + insurance: Insurance is a significant and growing cost for island non-profit groups. I’ve been asked repeatedly if there is a way for the SRD to offer access to more reasonably priced insurance for community groups. At a recent Board meeting I made a motion to write to the Municipal Insurance Association of BC, asking them to consider offering insurance to community-focused non-profits; the motion was supported by the Board. While there is no promise of a positive outcome, I wanted you to know I’m working on it!

If you’d like to connect, email RMawhinney@srd.ca, or call/text 250.203.2468; you can book an in-person meeting with me at calendly.com/robynmawhinney

Until next time,
Respectfully and sincerely,
Robyn Mawhinney

Quadra Island lighthouse