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:

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:


Want to dive deeper?

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


Wade into this one?

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


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.

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

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 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:

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:


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:

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


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.

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


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:

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 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.

Logging in the Community Watershed

Once again, there is significant timber harvesting taking place in the community’s Chapman Watershed, just upstream of our water intake. While there are a number of different land designations in the valley, including Provincial Park, Community Forest, and “Crown” Lands, it is Private Managed Forest Land tenure that raises the most concern with regards to regulatory oversight.

The Private Managed Forest Act that governs logging on private lands contains “Management Objectives” rather than standards, and the Objective with regards to water quality is “to protect human drinking water both during and after harvest”.  However, even when “industry standards for protecting water quality have not been met” as outlined here in this 2015 report to the Managed Forest Council (the regulating body) it is not considered to be a contravention of the regulations.

In order for any legislative oversight to be enacted, SCRD staff must prove a deleterious effect on the water at the treatment plant as a result of the logging in question. Clearly, at this point the horse is out of the barn, and standing in your creek.

I have had recent discussions with our MLA about the need to strengthen this act. The Union of BC Municipalities had brought forward numerous resolutions on the topic, including another one this year.

PMFL Chapman Water Intake Image

With regards to the suggestion to purchase the land, such negotiations between Local Governments and private land owners take place “In Camera” (confidentially). There are a number of reasons for this section of the Local Government Act, not the least of which is the potential impact on the selling price, and the fiscal interests of the taxpayer.

In 2016, the landowner initiated a process to halt SCRD Staff access to the Water Treatment Plant’s intake pipe, which for legacy reasons sits on private property. This would have prevented Water Staff from maintaining this essential piece of infrastructure, and from testing the water quality at the pipe’s intake. To ensure the community’s access to its historical water supply, the SCRD Board initiated a successful legal process to expropriate land for an access corridor, a process that requires compensation to the landowner.

More on the topic of Watershed Governance and Land Use issues about 2/3rds of the way down this page.

SCRD Staff continue to closely monitor water quality and are in communication with Vancouver Coastal Health Staff. 




Water…not just a Sunshine Coast issue.

“World Water Day” is this Thursday, March 22nd although I have to admit, for this SCRD Director, lately every day seems like water day! Despite concerns from those who oppose the Chapman Drawdown project either because it is in a Provincial Park, or because current policy is that it will only provide water when we need it, not when we want it, the Board recently voted to continue with the project as part of the Comprehensive Regional Water Plan. 

This week a CBC article with regards to Vancouver’s water future caught my attention.  While there are differences beyond the obvious one of scale (for example, our water supply is less snowpack sensitive) the themes are strikingly similar.  Vancouver appears to be moving in the direction of water metering. They are emphasizing  conservation-oriented a Drought Management Plan. They need to find more supply options. Climate change is impacting their supply more than population growth, as is the case here.

I would encourage you to read the entire article, but the observation below stood out:

“When it comes to expanding supplies, there are a few options. The simplest is to draw reservoirs down to a lower water level than they currently are by adding an intake pipe closer to the bottom.”

As a Board member who came to the same conclusion in 2015, and continues to take the position that we should have access to the deeper reaches of our historical community water supply when needed (despite it being recently wrapped in a protective Provincial Park) the statement seemed refreshingly clear. Vancouver’s Drawdown project on Coquitlam Lake, planned for 2030, has an estimated cost of $800 million.

The full article is available here:

Siphon Photo

In the meantime, those who have opposed to any further changes to Chapman Lake would do well to consider the ecological implications of the alternatives, along with whether a siphon, with its mandated daily helicopter visits, operational risks and vulnerable infrastructure is what we want downstream salmon and humans to be reliant upon in either the short or medium terms. The SCRD is expecting to hear from the Province with regards to the Chapman Drawdown Project shortly.

Here is an update on the status of that project and the SCRD’s 3 other supply-related initiatives.



I thought that the Provincial Park was supposed to…

“I thought that the Provincial Park was supposed to protect the water for us, not from us”

                    Comment from a Roberts Creek Advisory Committee and Agricultural Advisory Committee Member

The excerpts below are intended to give some more historical context to our recent and ongoing water discussions on the Sunshine Coast. Links to full source materials are provided, and I encourage readers to access those documents and draw their own conclusions.

The passages have been selected to make some contextual points that have been largely missing from the current debate. They do not pretend to paint a full picture. However, they do form part of the public legislative record and it is disingenuous not to bring them forwards. This is particularly true with regards to multiple references to water supply “enhancements” in the Tetrahedron Park Management Plan, and the community concerns at the time that led to those references.

Legislature Photo

Selected Provincial Legislature (Hansard) Proceedings:

Searchable at

 (Italics indicate ML editorial comments, and the text colour is for emphasis)

June 6, 1995

G. Wilson, (Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA at the time):

When the government made the announcement of the Tetrahedron, on the Sunshine Coast, they were careful — largely, I think and I hope, listening to commentary that I was providing them from within the community — not to announce a class A park. Because the highest value within the Tetrahedron is the water. It is the protection of a watershed that not only provides for the enhancement of that region and all of the areas within its drainage basin, but is going to be — at least in the long term — the only economic source of domestic potable water for the people of the Sunshine Coast. (of course, the Park designation later became “Class A”)

G Wilson (later same session): …First, because there have been previous forest interests there, there is a real perception that a move towards the establishment of a class A park was designed primarily to prohibit forest activity in that area (for good reason)

Second, there’s a real concern that if a class A park classification is put in place, regional district interests with respect to water — and in particular the construction of water management projects — will be greatly inhibited because of what may be deemed to be unacceptable activity within a park. What we’re doing is creating in this area the concept that those lakes are protected in their natural state as part of a protected-areas strategy for recreational users to use, whereas the vast majority of the population is saying that that’s not what they expect to do. They say they are setting aside those lakes because they are the primary source of water for everybody who lives on the Sunshine Coast, and they therefore want to limit recreational activity. Whatever the future classification of that land would be, they want to make it easy in future to construct water management projects that might greatly increase the head of water behind those projects. That’s the second issue: if you go to a class A park classification, what is it going to do in terms of that management?(while terms like “vast majority” are subjective and potentially inflammatory, they are indicative of significant community concern at the time)


Hon. E. Cull (Government Environment Minister of the day): The member for Powell River-Sunshine Coast and I had an opportunity to discuss the watershed issue around the Tetrahedron protected area a couple of weeks ago, and I want to assure the member again that when we do the master plan for the parks, the requirements of water for the community — the watershed issues — will be one of the priority issues to be addressed. It was made very clear to all when we made the announcement that the protection of water quality was one of the most important issues in this particular protected area that all decisions made with respect to the plan for the park in the future had to support the provision of water to the local communities.

The Ministry of Environment will be involved. Our parks people will lead the process of the master plan, but we will have staff from the water management branch involved in the planning process. There will be the ability under this park designation to deal with exactly the kinds of issues the member raises. We would expect the planning process to address the needs of watershed management and to ensure that whatever planning is done to the park respects first and foremost the need in future to provide high-quality water sources for the communities in the area.

G Wilson: It seems to me that there has to be another designation within the protected-areas strategy that defines a municipal watershed or protected area for the purpose of a municipal watershed or water management or something that isn’t a class A park. A class A park sends out an entirely wrong signal to those people who look at it on a map, read about it, see it or find it promoted in some way. The difficulty we have with that is that in very short order, given the population increase on the Sunshine Coast, which I don’t think we can stop….

We can’t play King Canute here and pretend that we can sit on the beach and prevent the tide from coming in. We may have to construct some form of water reservoir, which will greatly alter those lakes. We’re likely to hear, from the very people who were saying that they didn’t want logging: “No, you can’t alter its natural form; this is a class A provincial park.” Yet the primary interest in that whole protection is to maintain our water supply. What we need to hear from the minister is that nothing, through the designation of class A provincial park, will prevent the regional district and/or its agents from expanding that water supply system, when necessary, to supply municipal water.

E. Cull We will be addressing that through the master planning process. I guess what I’m saying is that “a park is a park is a park” is not the case with all class A parks. The master plans can determine to what extent recreational activities of various kinds are allowed throughout the park, whether they are restricted and whether other uses, which might be unique to the area, are permitted under a park use permit. I would expect that in the course of the master planning process for this particular area, watershed use will be the priority use that will have to be protected, and any recreational use will have to be compatible with that use. (See Park Master Plan excerpts below)


 June 7, 1995:

G. Wilson: I think that one of the concerns we have…. Let me use an area that the minister is well conversant with, and that’s the Tetrahedron question. Where the primary concern is for water, the principal demand is to make sure that watersheds are protected, and not just for the intrinsic value that an unspoiled watershed has, which is one concern — and that’s one of the things that I think we can certainly see within the Ministry of Forests, and the Clayoquot is an example of that. The second concern, which is equally important, is that waterworks are going to have to be constructed in the future that may very well change the nature of the designations by turning lakes as they are naturally occurring within a drainage basin into reservoirs, which will then be used for long-term water supply. My concern is that within the provisions of this bill there does not seem to be coordination at this level anymore and, based on what we’ve got in here, between what local government is advocating, what the Ministry of Environment has to regulate through provisions of the Water Act and what we are looking at in terms of the regional manager’s discretionary powers — it would seem almost — with respect to designation provisions.


June 10, 1997

G. Wilson: I mean, in my own community, I think it caused a great shock when the Tetrahedron was turned into a provincial park, which was not the recommendation or the consensus of the community. Nevertheless, that was the decision taken politically, and I think it did cause a great deal of concern. It’s a watershed which is a municipal watershed, and watershed construction and works need to be done there. However, that’s another issue… (Here I should reinforce again that these are the observations of the local MLA at the time, and are provided for context. It is my personal view that the Park has been, and will continue to be a valuable and hard-won community asset. At the same time, it is not appropriate to willfully ignore certain provisions of the Park Management Plan that reflect community concern at the time of designation. )

Tetrahedron Park Zoning

Selected excerpts from Tetrahedron Park Management Plan (1997):

Full document here

Chapman and Gray Creek watersheds are the only water supplies offering sufficient water quality, quantity and timing of flows for a regionally scaled water supply along the Sunshine Coast. (Plan Highlights, Page ii)

The roles of Tetrahedron Provincial Park are to maintain and enhance the area’s water quality and community watersheds for Sunshine Coast residents and preserve its wilderness characteristics by offering limited backcountry recreation opportunities (Page 3)

The provincial government is committed to working with the SCRD for the management of these watersheds, as community water supply sources are integral components in the development of an overall park plan (Page 2) ensure there is an appropriate mechanism for authorizing existing and future watershed enhancement and infrastructure development that may be required by SCRD for future population growth on the Sunshine Coast. (Page 12) (This never happened…BC Parks staff resource constraints noted)

Government, upon park designation, made a commitment to allow for continued management and enhancement of the Chapman/Gray Creek watersheds as future community water supply sources for the Sunshine Coast residents. However, the Park Act does not allow for improvements to existing watershed infrastructure in the park, and new methods of land designation must be reviewed in order to permit this type of non-conforming use within Tetrahedron Provincial Park. (Page 12) (This is what the SCRD has been seeking)

A number of designation options will be prepared and a decision will be sought that will enable BC Parks to authorize the SCRD to enhance and manage the Chapman/Gray Creek watersheds within the park for future population needs. A public consultation process to review any options proposed by government that may affect the existing park status will be implemented. (Page ii) (Again, since the initial Board vote with regards to the Chapman Drawdown Project in 2015 and the completion of a number of items requested from 2 different Ministries, the SCRD has been waiting for over 12 months for this public consultation process)

review the current designation of Tetrahedron Provincial Park with respect to the SCRD’s need to enhance its water system infrastructure/water use of the Chapman/Gray Creek watersheds within the park for future community water supply. A public consultation process to review any options proposed by government that may affect the existing park designation will be implemented. (Page 14)


Tetrahedron Park Management Plan “Vision Statement”

A Vision Statement for Tetrahedron Provincial Park has been developed for the future and sets the tone for how the park may differ from what it is today. Being clear about the long-term vision helps to guide what should be done in the short-term. The Vision Statement is an important guide for reacting to changing demands for recreation or incorporating new approaches to conservation management. The development of priorities for new management initiatives will be directed by this statement:
 “The management plan for Tetrahedron Provincial Park will ensure a high level of water quality and quantity for the residents of the Sunshine Coast, while preserving the integrity of the park’s natural, cultural and diverse ecosystems, maintaining its educational and spiritual values, and providing limited backcountry recreational experiences. ” 


Park Amendments:

As referenced further down this page, if one is inclined to believe that an Redesignation of of an area within in a Provincial Park or a Boundary Amendment is unprecedented, unheard of, or unattainable, there have been at least 67 Park Boundary Amendments since 2004, many to do with community water supply. They are listed in this provincial report:

Sign Pic B

“Future planners, engineers, politicians and citizens alike will be called upon to demonstrate both vision and pragmatism and be able to frame the issue of achieving water-resiliency in communities against the backdrop of an unpredictable water cycle. This in turn demands the honing of a further skill, that of working together towards consensus, commitment and collaboration.”

Eric Bonham,  Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


(…nothing about confrontation, campaigns, or the politics of entrenchment. I will continue to advocate for a more integrated approach to watershed governance.)