Greetings! What’s happening at the Regional District these days? Something significant might be brewing, something you may want to know about. In this report I discuss two initiatives which include the Alternate Approval Process currently happening at the Board.

Strathcona Gardens
At our last Board meeting a vote on a report on how to include Electoral Areas A, B & C in paying annual taxes for Strathcona Gardens received a majority vote; Directors for Electoral Areas A, B & C among those opposed.

Strathcona Gardens on Dogwood Street in Campbell River is an SRD asset which includes a swimming pool and ice rinks. User fees currently contribute about 17% of the overall Strathcona Gardens budget: the remainder is paid through requisition of Campbell River and Area D residents.

In 2023, Area D residents paid $364/per average property for the Strathcona Gardens Service: this is estimated to increase to $422/household in 2024. A $73 million dollar upgrade project has just been approved and a $65 million dollar loan is headed to Alternative Approval Process in Area D & the City of Campbell River.

People often choose to live in rural areas for the lower tax burden and the corresponding service levels. I believe a $400+ average increase to every Area C property tax for a recreation complex across the sea and challenging to access is an outrage! For some perspective, the Area D residential requisition amount for Strathcona Gardens in 2023 was $.482/$1,000 residential assessed value… the Wharves Initiative proposed requisition is a maximum of $.085/$1,000 of residential assessed value.

This story isn’t over. The report hasn’t been returned, the Board has yet to deliberate, no vote on this has occurred. However, if you want the Board to consider your disapproval (or approval) of an extra $400+ on your annual taxes to support Strathcona Gardens, now is a good time to write an email (contact info below).

Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park

Wharves
There is an Alternative Approval Process for the Wharves Initiative underway. Because I’ve been asked several times, I want to clarify that the Elector Response Form included in the last issue of the DI was not provided by the SRD (If it was, the reverse side would have been provided as well). A few additional points about the proposed Wharves Service, for clarity:

  • The Bylaw is limited to three wharves, Surge Narrows, Owen Bay and Port Neville.
  • There is no interpretation to take control over all “existing and future wharves” to be uncovered in the legalese and the maximum rate would prevent additional construction or maintenance.
  • All Board discussions and actions regarding this proposal have been held in publicly accessible meetings. Public meetings are available for viewing on the Strathcona Regional District YouTube page.
  • The Open Houses were valuable, resulting in substantive change to the current Bylaw. The Service managing only the three divested wharves is a result of this consultationrather than the original six of the first Wharves Initiative proposal.
  • Owen Bay planning was a learning experience for staff; the size increase IS eligible due to proven safety issues (serious injuries sustained while boats forced to raft five deep).
  • The provision to increase the requisition ceiling by up to 25% after five years is a regulatory provision, providing a contingency buffer in case of future unforeseen costs. According to the Corporate Officer, in the 14-year history of the SRD only one bylaw requisition limit has been increased. And, just as our taxes have not increased on par with our assessments, the wharves bylaw requisition won’t annually increase at the same rate as property values.
  • Port Neville’s inclusion is a question and concern for many, including me. Accepting it was decided eight years ago. There are active discussions about the best way to move forward with this wharf: for now, by necessity, it is included.
  • This isn’t a static file; staff continue to research. What will happen to the wharves if Electors reject the service through the Alternative Approval Process is unclear. I trust those choosing to sign the Elector Response form understand the full picture.

SRD.ca has a comprehensive Wharves Initiative page. You can find wharf assessment reports and Transport Canada agreements there as well as the Elector Response Form.

Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park

Drought
The earth is dusty and our forests are tinder dry. We are in an unprecedented-for-this-time-of year Level Five drought. According to BC River Forecast Centre hydrologist Jonathan Boyd, “it has never been like this, this early.” He added that the current drought situation began about a year ago, and over the last 12 months, the province has seen 40 to 85 per cent of normal precipitation, depending on the region.

We can’t control the weather; we can change our behaviour. Please, let’s all be mindful & conservative with our water use: the aquifers are connected and so are we.

Advisory Planning Commission
My last report covered this topic. I’m adding links here: the application form and APC guide are now live on the SRD website. I hope that committed islanders from all walks of life, age and location consider applying!

You’re welcome to connect with me with your questions or concerns. You can email RMawhinney@srd.ca, or call/ text 250.203.2468. To send a letter to the SRD Board, addressing it to ‘the Chair and Board’ ensures all Directors receive it. Email to administration@srd.ca or post to 990 Cedar Street, Campbell River, V9W 7Z8.

Respectfully and sincerely,
Robyn Mawhinney

Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park

The images in this report are from a recent adventure I had to Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park. There are loxiwe (clam gardens) in abundance; it was a beautiful day and a magical place. The park is located on the northeast side of Quadra Island at the southern tip of Sonora Island and the junction of Quadra, Sonora and Maurelle Islands.