It has been a very full year on Cortes in so many ways. So much of what has been on my plate feels like old business which is now finally getting some attention, movement and decision. It is humbling how slowly the wheels can churn… despite our best efforts. Please find below my reflections on governance as well as my regular updates. Cortes Governance – Community Boards – Grant In Aid
Although I am your representative to local government, I would suggest that our local governance model is intricate and comprised of many local organizations, committees, groups and boards, all of whom strive to serve the wellbeing of Cortes. I can count 27 and am sure I am missing some. If each board has 6 members (which is very conservative), that’s over 160 people or 15% of our year-round population that sits on a board (assuming no overlap between boards which of course there is). Some are collective businesses and educational institutes, but all strive to operate in a community-minded manner. Some believe these are private clubs, serving only their memberships and should be supported exclusively by those memberships. I offer the thought, however, that collectively they form a huge part of our island governance, serving the whole community. Some of these groups provide services that in other situations would be provided and/or funded by government: medical centre, docks, halls, fire service, radio, etc. Other groups compliment that work and make our island a rich and well serviced place to live.
The last ‘facilitating community dialogue’ meeting discussed this very topic. We explored the roles of boards, membership, the community and the interplay there between. I am keenly interested in how to support this excellent work and the boards that comprise their volunteer base. The Regional District’s Grant-In-Aid fund is a modest way of providing support, and I am seeking ways of leveraging those few funds to best assisting the work of local initiatives.
Recently, Sandra Wood and I hosted a meeting with many reps from Cortes non-profits to discuss the collaborative fundraising support that she has been providing to those groups through an SRD Grant-In-Aid (GIA). We also began to discuss other areas of potential inter-organizational collaboration. As far as I am aware, this is the first such conversation of its kind and I see huge value in its continuation, as committed to by all present. What most strikes me is that these organizations who serve the community have very little structured support for the work they do. Can this be assisted through collective board development, meeting facilitation, communications, fundraising, other? The feedback that I received from all present was that, even though SRD GIA funds are small, they are invaluable in that they are unallocated within the organization and can go to cover core operating costs for which fundraising is difficult. The majority will in the room was to keep the GIA requisition high for this coming year if possible without overall tax implications, to maintain the inter-organizational fundraising coordinator (Sandra) and to meet again in the early new year.
I want to extend a huge gratitude to those who serve on community boards of. Here are the ones I can think of today: Advisory Planning Commission, Bee Islets, Channel Rock, Cortes Carbon Solutions, Cortes Community Health Association, Cortes Community Radio Society, Cortes Harbour Authority, Cortes Housing Initiative, Cortes Island Literacy Now, Cortes Island Museum and Archives Society, Cortes Island Potters Guild, Cortes Island Seniors Society, Cortes Island Shellfish Association, Cortes Island Volunteer Firefighting Association, Cortes Natural Food Co-op, Cortes Real Youth, Emergency Social Services Team, Friends Of Cortes Island, Hollyhock, Linnaea Farm Society, Old Schoolhouse Gallery, Parent’s Advisory Committee, Southern Cortes Community Association, Whaletown Commons Society, Whaletown Community Club, Whaletown Institute, Wild We Stand (Wildstands), Women’s InstituteCortes Recycling Centre New Building
The recycling shed at the Cortes Recycling Centre is being replaced this winter. After 4 years of this renovation being in the Comox Valley Regional District’s Solid Waste budget, and after many administrative hurdles, we finally have the wheels in motion. Cortes Islander, Bill Friedel of Orca Design has been hired to construct the building he designed for the site. Work is anticipated to begin right away (December) and be completed by late spring. The new building will be entirely behind the existing recycling bays and will therefore not interrupt their operation until the new building is ready to open. However, due to WCB and insurance reasons, once the construction begins the recycling centre will be open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday ONLY from 9 to 5 pm. See Marketer postings for the full holiday schedule. Bill Friedel still intends to host an ‘Open House’ at the Free Store to review the plans for the new Recycling Centre building. Stay tuned.Emergency Social Services
Emergency Social Services, as noted periodically in the Marketer, is a local volunteer group supported through the Regional District’s Emergency Preparedness Department. They meet regularly, train for various emergency situations, work on our collective behalf and are always looking for more volunteers. I big thank-you to the team and especially to Bertha for keeping the flame alive and to Coleen Dragseth who has been quietly working as the Training Coordinator to establish training for our ESS volunteers. For more info contact cortesesstwincomm.ca.Green House Gas Reduction Projects
I would like to advise of my intent to host a community meeting in January or February of 2011 to gather your input on how to best spend some of the community works / gas tax allocated for Cortes. Cortes has approximately $350,000 to spend over the next few years. The Cortes Climate Action Team compiled a report with many recommendations and Cortes Carbon Solutions has been established to assist in program delivery as appropriate. Any infrastructure projects funded through this program would need to be owned by the SRD for a number of years which is limited to things such as district energy, sewer, water, regional transportation. However, planning, studies and information gathering are also fundable with these monies and could include projects such as a transportation demand management study, a forest carbon pilot project, maintaining an on-line list of grants and funding opportunities for energy conservation. Any of these climate-related projects, or indeed any project at all, will depend on community buy-in in order to achieve long-term green house gas reductions. To that end, I want to call together those of you interested in the new year to discuss next steps and spending priorities. Stay tuned.Cortes Fire Service
Provision of fire service on Cortes is a two part equation. The SRD is legally and financially responsible for the fire service and taxes accordingly, and the Cortes Fire Department is contracted by the SRD to fight fires on the ground. For the last 4 years, the two parties have been without a contract, operating on a year-to-year good faith agreement, which is less than ideal. One of the main obstacles was how to best provide service to the Klahoose community which was resolved by extending the fire protection boundary to include the Klahoose village. I am happy to report that this contractual matter has now been resolved and awaits final SRD board approval on Dec 16th. Official Community Plan
Looking forward to the draft OCP to sink your policy teeth into? The Focus team is targeting the final week of January for a community meeting as the first draft review of the OCP. They will post dates as soon as they are confirmed. I invite us to think long-term and be bold in our planning. 2011 SRD Budget
Still open to your questions, input and comments on the 2011 proposed SRD budget which can be found at www.strathconard.ca
. The SRD board will be reviewing the second of three drafts in January. Ferry Advisory Committee
Still looking to fill a couple more spots on the Ferry Advisory Committee. We meet twice per year, once in person and once by phone. Ferries are a critical link to all of us living on Cortes. Give your input about fares, service and the future of the fleet. If you are interested, contact your current Cortes team: Bertha Jeffery, Barry Glickman or myself.
All the best of the season.