Coming soon(ish)…4 years in a blog post

Nov 11, 2018

This afternoon, following a very thoughtful Remembrance Day ceremony at the Legion, I sat down to review my  Directors Monthly Newsletters  in an attempt to encapsulate or summarize the last 4 years.

2 hours, a couple pages of notes, and a few deep dives into my files later, I had gotten only as far back as January 2018.

File Photo

This is going to take longer than I thought! That old quote about “not having enough time to be brief” comes to mind.

What can I be looking for in a Candidate?

 

Small Soapbox

As we move further into the campaign period, voters will have the opportunity to learn more about candidates’ views on a number of important Sunshine Coast issues.

However Elected Officials’ ability to implement policies depends on skill sets that are sometimes overlooked in the heat of an election campaign. Here’s an excellent article from the well-respected former Mayor of Golden, BC:

 

https://www.municipalworld.com/feature-story/7-vital-qualities-look-local-leader/

Collaboration image

In the meantime with regards to Roberts Creek, for now I’ll be following my own advice when asked the other day by the Coast Reporter about whether I was endorsing a particular candidate:

“It’s great to have five candidates running in Roberts Creek, and will make for a healthy discussion of the issues. Two of those candidates are known well to the community, having run in 2011 and 2014. I would encourage Roberts Creekers to learn about the platforms and approaches of the three new candidates during the campaign, and make an informed voting decision accordingly.”

 

Water moving forwards

While the idea of posting anything more here on the topic of water makes my head spin, a summarized look forwards would seem appropriate at this time.

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The following is an excerpt from this month’s Roberts Creek SCRD Director’s Newsletter :

            Water provision will be discussed at length in the upcoming election. Sorting the facts from the opinions is one of the challenges for electors on any issue, and with this topic in particular, there are no shortage of opinions. In an effort to ensure that facts are accessible, I’ve collated links below to some SCRD resources that I have provided here in the past.

Want the short version looking forwards? In about 6 months, the 2018/22 SCRD Board should have a “menu” of Comprehensive Regional Water Plan Supply projects in front of them, including:

-the long-awaited results of BC Parks’ process to enable (or not) the Chapman Lake Project, and any attached conditions

-results from 4 exploratory Groundwater wells

-a Reservoir Feasibility Study (currently projected earliest completion 2026)

Combined with an updated water supply demand analysis (with a 2050 horizon), the above will provide factual information around the 3 proposed CRWP projects. Until those 3 pieces are known, much is speculation. Along with water volumes figures, financial, ecological impact, engineering, licensing, fire suppression, public health, staff health and safety, food growing, emergency resilience and other factors will need to be taken into consideration.

The Board will also need to make some Water Sourcing Policy decisions, (which water gets used when…see the Framework report below), along with the annual opportunity to amend the Drought Management Plan’s water restrictions accordingly.

 

Want more details? You can “jump into” the water here:

2 page summary of current Water Infrastructure projects:

http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Infrastructure/Water/2018-May-17%20CRWP%20Implementation%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

 

Want to dive deeper?

An SCRD Power Point presentation that fills in some more gaps:

http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Infrastructure/Water/2018-MAR-01%20Water%20-%20Special%20ISC%20Powerpoint%20Presentation.pdf

 

Wade into this one?

Water sourcing Policy Framework (Page 1 of this Agenda Package)

http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Administration/Agendas/2018/2018-MAY-17_ISC_Agenda_Package.pdf

 

Water Meters

These measurement tools are a fundamental part of the water provision picture.

The defeat of the recent Alternate Approval Process with regards to Sechelt water meter financing was disappointing, and may result in further delay of projects or costs to the taxpayer. The current Board will have a funding options report in front of them shortly.

To present a choice between either supply projects or water meters is unnecessarily polarizing. There is no reason why they can’t be implemented simultaneously, and indeed they are. Of note is that the CRWP projected a $7million dollar taxpayer benefit over 25 years associated with the savings from meters, and senior government grant applications (say for supply projects) are enhanced by evidence of a robust demand management program.

It would be very difficult for a sitting Rural Area Director to vote to abandon the 3rd (Sechelt) phase of Coastal meter implementation. Roberts Creekers have already spent time, effort and in some cases significant private funds to stem leaks on their property and can take some credit for the associated 20-30% water savings to date.

While infrastructure delays, Climate Change and increased environmental (Chapman Creek) flow requirements have driven much of our current water situation, growth is clearly part of the picture. Water Plan anticipated a 2% annual growth rate on the coast, but in reality growth has averaged about half that.

Update September 23: Looking to understand what went on this past summer’s water supply and demand? This power point presentation from the September 20 Infrastructure Committee meeting has a summary of water levels, stages, sources and consumption, along with  another review of the status of the 4 Water Plan Projects. http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Infrastructure/Water/2018-Sept%2020%20ISC%20Water%20Supply%20Update%20Powerpoint%20Presentation_1.pdf

Lots of information to digest! No one said being an informed citizen was easy.

Can’t get enough of this topic? Keep reading below.

Housing Density, Affordability and Growth

The challenge of affordable housing is a complex one.  No one entity or approach holds all the answers, but following broad public engagement last year, SCRD staff have brought forwards proposed additions to all Rural Areas’ Official Community Plans to promote densification in core areas, and to a lesser degree, other residentially-zoned areas.

The intent is to avoid “Rural Sprawl” with its ensuing ecological, social and economic impacts, and to direct growth centered on Roberts Creek’s “downtown” core. A principle that underlies this approach is that transportation is a key piece of the affordability puzzle, and that proximity to “downtown” services, shops, schools and Transit make for a relatively cheaper lifestyle.

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A quick look at the Roberts Creek OCP’s Land Use Map. More detail at scrd.ca/Roberts-Creek

The proposed Official Community Plan Amendments build on the work done during our community’s 2010-2012 OCP Review and include the addition of a section intended to lay out specific criteria for considering the location and constraints around  densification proposals. The specific amendments can be found in the staff report linked to below, but they include:

-acknowledging that most residential properties that are zoned for a second dwelling haven’t yet built one, so existing infill opportunities should be incentivized.

-encourage cluster, multi-unit, and other densification approaches in the Village Amenity/Density Bonus Area (see map below) or similar areas, and considering the subdivision of lots in that area to a size as small as 1/4 acre, subject to a variety of conditions

-outside of the central core, giving consideration to subdivision of properties that exceed existing limits if services and community amenities are present, and if the design is compatible with the neighbourhood

-the use of Local Government Housing Agreements to ensure that larger developments provide land, housing units, or cash that could be used to support housing affordability.

Of note is that all increases in density beyond existing levels would need to go through a zoning amendment public process including notification of neighbours, public information meetings, advisory committee referrals, a public hearing and eventually a vote by the SCRD Board.

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RC’s Village Density Area, below the Highway and bracketed by Marlene and Blackburn Roads

The proposed amendments have received the support of both the Roberts Creek Advisory Planning Commission and the Official Community Plan Committee during the referral process.

The bylaw changes received Second Reading by the Board and a Public Hearing has been scheduled for July 23rd, 7PM in the SCRD Boardroom up at the Field Rd. SCRD offices. Written submissions can either be made in advance to Senior Planner Yuli Siao via email at Yuli.Siao@scrd.ca or verbally or in writing at the meeting.

The staff report and accompanying amendments are a challenging read. For the next few Saturdays in July prior to the Public Hearing I will be sure to bring maps and other resources to my usual Saturday morning Gumboot Office Hours. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in delving deeper into this topic to come and see me prior to the Public Hearing.

Here is a Link to Report (begins on Page 37)  Roberts Creek’s proposed OCP amendments can be found on Page 53: http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Administration/Agendas/2018/2018-JUN-14%20PCD%20Agenda%20Package%20-%20PART%201%20ANNEX%20A%20-%20F.pdf

Our Official Community Plan is a high level planning document that sets the vision for communities. Of note also on this topic are the opportunities presented by the review of our main zoning Bylaw 310, (including its existing density provisions) so watch for the chance to learn about and have input into that process in the Fall.

Funding Water Meters

The SCRD Board is committed to completing the installation of water meters across the Sunshine Coast Regional Water Service area, as part of a 4-pronged approach to conserving, enhancing and protecting our regional water supply. The third and final Phase of that project involves installing them in the District of Sechelt and the shishalh Nation.

Water Meter installation

In line with its Fiscal Sustainability Policy, the Board has taken a long-term loan approach to funding the project, which requires elector approval through something called an Alternate Approval Process, or AAP.

This process should not be portrayed as a “referendum on water meters”. Meters are so integral to the Comprehensive Regional Water Plan that should the AAP fail, this Board (and in all likelihood a future Board), would almost certainly choose to proceed with the Phase 3 installation project. A different funding mechanism would be used, one that could have the impact of leaving less funds in reserves for future water projects. SCRD Staff have produced a Frequently Asked Questions resource to help Sunshine Coasters understand the project and the process:  http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Administration/Elections/AAP-Water%20Meter%20Loan/2018-June-20-Phase-3-Universal-Water-Meters-AAP-FAQs.pdf

 

Looking to inform yourself about Water?

Strongly held opinions abound on this topic.  It is important that the public inform themselves broadly from a variety of sources and perspectives. Public officials are held to a high standard of accountability for their words.

SCRD Resources:

Drawing from recent reports, SCRD Staff have produced a brief summary of the 4 Comprehensive Regional Water Plan Projects. The summary includes status updates, project scopes and estimated timelines:

http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Infrastructure/Water/2018-APR-13%20CRWP%20Implementation%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

Looking for FAQ’s with regards to the Chapman Expansion project in particular?

http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Infrastructure/Water/2018-Apr-10-Chapman%20Lake%20Water%20Supply%20Expansion%20Project%20FAQ_1.pdf

 

BC Parks Resources:

This update on the upcoming BC Parks’ second public engagement meeting around the proposed Amendments to Tetrahedron Park on Thursday, May 24 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Roberts Creek Community Hall.

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/PBAProcess/current-applications/tetrahedron/

This Parks Public Information Paper includes some key information to consider in advance about the proposed options and the context for the decision:

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/PBAProcess/current-applications/tetrahedron/docs/tetrahedron-park-public-information-paper.pdf?v=1526661747923

 

Meet an SCRD Director for a chat?

The session at the Hall is part of a BC Parks process, and an opportunity for the public to provide their input to Parks Staff. My understanding is that at the previous engagement session there were some questions that were best directed at the SCRD rather than Parks Staff.

Sunshine Coasters are welcome come and meet with me on this or any other topic most Saturday Mornings (except long weekends) at the Gumboot Cafe. On Thursday the 24th, prior to the event up at the Hall I will be on the back deck of the Gumboot Restaurant from 5-6:30. Come and join me for a beverage of choice and a chat. 

Other SCRD Directors are available via email or other means.

More of my views on our Water situation, including links to other source documents can be found further down this page.

BC Parks posts Tetrahedron Park Redesignation Options information

On Thursday, May 3rd, following a May 2nd Open House in Sechelt, BC Parks posted important background and legislative information around Tetrahedron Provincial Park and its Park Management Plan.

This represents a welcome addition to the public discourse, and contains much of the information required to have a rational and informed discussion with regards to the Park Redesignation options being proposed as part of the SCRD’s application to access more Chapman Lake water in times of need.

Screen Shot of Comment Form

The information includes a link to a Park Options Comment form. The period for Public Comment period closes May 31st.

I would particularly recommend downloading and reading the Public Information Paper (PDF) found towards the bottom of BC Parks’ webpage:

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/PBAProcess/current-applications/tetrahedron/

For people looking to better understand how the Chapman Lake Expansion Project fits in with the other SCRD Water Projects, there are significant resources both here http://www.scrd.ca/Water and further down this page.

If you would like to talk to an SCRD Director about the topic, I am at the Gumboot Cafe nearly every Saturday morning between 10-12.