Official Community Plan Update
After one and a half years of gathering community input, the first DRAFT of the revised Cortes Official Community Plan was released for your review and comment in the third week of February. The consultant (Focus) took your collective content, put it into policy language and reflected it back to you. I, nor the OCP steering committee, had seen this draft before it was released. Like most of you, we too were quite disappointed with some key mapping and policy elements as well as the overall sloppiness of the product. The land-use designation map has been totally scrapped! We are starting fresh using the old OCP map as a base. However, the real value in what we do have so far is a year and a half of documented community input in the form of individual intended direction. Every legal and reasonable idea received from the community was converted into policy, some very innovative, and is reflected in this first draft. What it does not yet reflect is community consensus or majority will. What we now need to do is take control of the document and edit it down. I am delighted and emboldened by some of your excellent ideas and vision and some of the draft policy it reflects.
Next steps and anticipated timeline:Mid-late March
Focus consulting will integrate the comment received on the first draft, clean up the sloppiness and redundancies and provide DRAFT #2 to the Regional District and the OCP steering committee.Early April
The Regional District and the OCP steering committee will edit and proof DRAFT #2 and prepare it for release to the Cortes community.April
Klahoose First Nation will be formally consulted on draft #2.
Cortes will receive Draft #2 for review, both electronically and in printed from. Late April through June as needed
We will host a series of community editing sessions where you will be invited to collectively edit, section by section, until we get to a place that is reflective of majority will.
This is very similar to the process that was undertaken during the last OCP review which concluded in 1995. At that time, a consultant was hired to gather community input and deliver to Cortes a working draft, after which time the community work-shopped it, section by section, until we had a product that was supported by the majority of those in attendance. This is what we will do again.
My commitment to you: I will not support the revised OCP going to the SRD board for consideration or to public hearing until I think we have achieved the best product that we can reasonably achieve.
My request of you: That we do our best to deliver a good draft by the end of June, and that we do so with an open and curious mind. 2011 Regional District Budget
The Strathcona Regional District 2011 budget is now complete, awaiting only the final formal bylaw adoption at the end of March. This year, I wanted to be more proactively transparent with you about the budget process, holding an open community meeting in the fall at the beginning of the 2011 budget drafting process, and reporting out to you in some detail now that the budget is complete.
The Strathcona Regional District derives most of its funds through property taxes, with some funds coming from senior government grants, service fees (ex. garbage collection on Cortes), application fees (ex. rezoning applications), and user fees (ex. admittance to Strathcona Gardens recreation complex). We provide many services throughout the District which includes Campbell River, Sayward, Thasis, Zeballos, Gold River, Kyoukoot/Nootka, north Toba, Bute & the Discovery Islands including Quadra and Cortes. The main services to Cortes include:
• Planning (official community plans, land & water zoning, green-house gas reduction planning)
• Parks (Siskin Lane trails, Kwa’as Park, Carrington, beach access trails, soon to be Hank’s Beach)
• Emergency Preparedness (planning for fire, flood, earthquake, and other natural disasters)
• Fire Protection (we contract with the Cortes Fire Department for our fire service)
• Solid Waste (garbage transport off island and dumping fees and a small portion of the Cortes recycling centre operations)
• Grant-In-Aid (supporting local not-for-profit initiatives of benefit to the community at large)
• Administration (some SRD staff, accounting, overhead, etc)
• Electoral Area Expenditures (Regional Director pay, constituency expenses, training, elections)
We also have an inactive and unfunded ‘Heritage Conservation’ service and a ‘Liquid Waste’ (sewer/septic) research service that could be used if and when there is future need. We are also part of a regional planning service that is beginning some environmental planning work, largely focused on our climate change responsibilities. We also pay into the regional 911 answering service & Search and Rescue. Note: I do not have any input into the other line items on your tax bill such as Library, School, and Police.
Although average land assessments in the SRD increased slightly, on Cortes they are down by 4% from last year.
The total SRD 2011 budget is just over $11.2 million, 40% of which goes to pay for the Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex in Campbell River, to which Cortes does not contribute financially. Insert another line or two here about overall SRD budget. Of that, the SRD will be taxing a total of $527,000 from Cortes in 2011.
• $169,000 of that goes to Cortes Fire Protection,
• $135,000 pays for our parks system ($36,000 of which went into parks acquisition reserve, bringing our total reserves that could go toward park purchase up to almost $450,000),
• $77,000 supports your Cortes land-use planning,
• $75,000 funds dealing with our recycling and garbage,
• $56,000 covers all administration and electoral area funds, and
• $25,000 will fund this year’s Grant-In-Aid budget.
All budget detail information can be found at www.strathconard.ca
The budgets of the ‘Combined Board’ (which includes both the Strathcona and the Comox Valley Regional Districts) include:
• Solid Waste
(the entire regional recycling & garbage system) has a budget of $6.5 million. Funds for this service are paid by tipping fees, some of which comes from general taxation and some of it from direct fees paid for dumping, largely from commercial and industrial accounts. Cortes will pay $75,000 of this in 2011 through taxation.
• Hospital Board
(we provide 40% of hospital funding which covers buildings and equipment) has a 2011 budget of $14.8 million, $10.5 million of which goes directly into reserves to build the two new hospitals in the region – one on Courtenay and one in Campbell River. $224,502 of that will come from Cortes. The hospital tax rate has been increasing each year recently so that we can put a greater down payment on the new hospitals and incur less taxation in the long-run as we will be paying less in interest to complete the building.