January could well have been the busiest month in my first political year, between budget preparations, proposed Cortes Hall service, phase 2 OCP prep, aquaculture meetings and the regular business. My 2010 articles so far were just about the Hall service and appeared in the Cortes Marketer. Here is a regular report with updates on various items.Official Community Plan Review Update
After almost a year of very Cortes-led OCP review preparatory work, we have now completed phase 1 which included: ‘blue-sky’ visioning, OCP community education, launch of the OCP website www.cortescommunityplan.ca
, research on past Cortes OCP review best practices re process, an elders and seniors inclusion process (ongoing throughout the spring), and data gathering on housing, water, and sustainability indicators.
We are now about to begin the real work of reviewing the OCP document itself. A hiring committee comprised of both Cortes OCP steering committee members and SRD staff has just selected FOCUS Consulting to help guide us through the review process. They have extensive experience in rural BC planning and are very excited to work with Cortes. They will be introduced in full very shortly. It will be a busy spring and I anticipate much participation in this OCP review – envisioning our future. Our Community Plan is the document from which future Cortes planning will flow and as such is a key document. Grant-in-Aid Funds
Many Cortes community organizations are financially tighter this year due to decreased funding, particularly the loss of Gaming Grant revenues. In response, the 2010 draft SRD budget recommends a near doubling to the Grant-In-Aid funds without an associated tax increase. I am asking this year that Grant-In-Aid applications be made a little earlier so that a more timely response can be made to the identified need. Please submit applications to me by April 5th.Recycling Centre
Last fall, I reported that the Cortes Recycling Centre would be undergoing some major renovations this winter including a new building for the recycling bays and a ring road around the dumpsters. As will have been apparent to anyone who visited the site over the last few months, this work has begun. However, after some initial estimates, it was determined that the amount budgeted in 2009 would not be sufficient to complete the project as envisioned. Additional funds have been provisionally approved in the 2010 solid waste management budget for this project, and full commitment to this project remains along with the intention to put the construction project up for local bid. Argosy
In early 2006, Argosy made application to the Province for a geoduck aquaculture license off the shore of Cortes between Squirrel Cove and Seaford. That year, representatives from Argosy and the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (MAL) gave a public presentation on Cortes and fielded questions about the application, which had generated much concern. According to staff at MAL, the Klahoose First Nation was not initially in support of the Argosy application, and so it did not receive timely approval. In 2009, the license was awarded by the Province after Klahoose, according to reps from both Argosy and MAL, bought 50% share in Argosy and became supporters of the application. In 2006, the Regional District planning department stated that rezoning would be required before this proposed geoduck operation could proceed. The Strathcona Regional District, Argosy and MAL are currently in communication about next steps. Whaletown Commons
The purchase of the Whaletown Commons property continues to be one of my top priorities, and although I am not at liberty to discuss details, progress has been made in the negotiations, and I remain hopeful that we will see this property in community hands. In the second week of March at the request of the Regional District, a team of surveyors will be working on the property to gather data for our purchase offer. Any new flagging or markers that you notice at that time is for our benefit, so please respect their work. I will report further on this just as soon as I can.
Please feel free to contact me about anything you have read here or about any other matter related to SRD business.