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General News · 18th February 2013
Noba Anderson
Regional District Budget
For the past four years that I have been in office, I am proud to say that Strathcona Regional District taxation for Cortes has been very stable. The overall Cortes contribution to the SRD budget between 2009 and 2013 has varied between $527,084 and $571,395 such that today the budget is within $2,000 of what it was in 2008, the year prior to me taking office. This while making significant annual contributions to parks reserve for land acquisition, doubling the annual grant-in-aid fund available to Cortes not-for-profit organizations, and saving for the purchase of a new fire truck expected this year! The 2013 recommended budget of just over $531,000 includes $180,000 for your fire protection service, $148,000 for parks, $60,000 in planning, and the remainder for admin, grant-in-aid, 911, emergency program, as well as liquid and solid waste. One major point of note is a recommended remuneration increase, the first in 7 years, for rural area directors (including myself) from $20,699 per year plus meeting pay and travel time to $31,128 plus the same. This increase, retroactive to 2012, puts the Strathcona Regional District amongst the highest paid rural directors in BC. Although it was exceedingly awkward to be voting on my own salary as well as that of my colleagues, I am very grateful that on this matter we followed the recommendation of our hired professional consultant and that the board voted in support 11 to 2 on this matter. I hope that this will help to attract and maintain top quality elected representatives that may otherwise choose a better paying vocation. For full budget details, please visit www.strathconard.ca. I am also very willing to answer any questions you may have and receive your input. Thanks to those who came out to the Cortes fall budget meeting and shared your spending priority perspectives.

Looking to 2013
Now that the revised Cortes Official Community Plan is awaiting only Provincial approval and final adoption at the SRD board, I am turning my attention to other matters including: parks, economic development, gas tax fund spending and the Cortes zoning bylaw review still anticipated for the fall.

Parks
This year, in the SRD’s parks department work plan we have prioritized park trail brochures, new beach access trails, and investigating cross-island trail linkage opportunities. What existing trails warrant formalization? Where would we like to develop trails? Where do we want to leave trail free? How can we secure formalized access across crown lands as well as across private land with willing land owners? How can we link up existing trail networks? How can we make certain trail systems more known? What is the appropriate balance between encouraging tourism and trail use and maintaining the wild and limited local use that many trails currently enjoy? I have reached out to past members of the Cortes Trails Committee as well as the Friends of Cortes Island who have taken the lead on Cortes trails recently. I have the interest of BC Parks as well as the Quadra Trails Committee, and am trying to pull a parks and trails symposium together later this spring to have an inter-jurisdictional dialogue about priorities and opportunities. If you are interested in trail planning please contact me.

Economic Development
This time last year, I called together Cortes tourism operators who are now formalizing a structure as the Cortes Island Tourism Association. In January, they received an early Grant-In-Aid from the Starthcona Regional District for $2,000 for the development of a website and other promotional materials for the sector generally. I am secretly (or not so secretly) hoping that between the tourism initiative and the community forest effort, Cortes will soon birth a focused economic development effort to sustain jobs and families while being in keeping with island priorities. The SRD is conducting a region-wide economic development study and I am weighing any potential value of joining a regional initiative with the custom Cortes approach that would be derived through our own local efforts. Again, if this catches your attention, please be in touch.

Gas Tax Funds
Since the SRD amended our gas tax agreement to allow ourselves to partner with external agencies, I have hosted two meetings (December and February) for Cortes non-profit organizations to explain the program and solicit project ideas. Cortes has about $350,000 that needs to be spent by the end of 2017 on initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or result in clean air and clean water. Much Cortes interest centers around transportation and to that end, I have stared the ball rolling at the SRD to conduct a Cortes transportation study to evaluate the demand and possibilities. So far, I have received five expressions of interest and will continue to work with these groups to further refine and develop their proposals. I am also forming a small advisory group to help with this process. Project proposals will be received on an ongoing basis from Cortes groups. Please continue to generate ideas and discuss them with me.

Ferry Advisory Committee Update
The Tachek (our bigger ferry) has gone in for its $15 million mid-life upgrade and will be back permanently serving Cortes at the end of September. It will return to us with new life saving appliances, heating, ventilation, lounge, washrooms, wheelhouse structure, propellers, sewage system and holding tank, electrical systems etc. The next Ferry Advisory Committee meeting, Thursday April 11th will be here on Cortes at 10:15, location TBA! This is a first in at least 4 years to be on Cortes. Generally they are on Quadra for BC Ferries staff scheduling reasons, but all the easier if you would like to attend and witness the business of your committee and presentations made by senior BC Ferries staff. If you have issues that you would like raised please contact one of your reps: Bertha Jeffery, Bob Tracy, Uschi Koebberling, Rod Lee or myself.

Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' First Nations
In January, the Strathcona Regional District participated in our second Community to Community forum, designed to initiate dialogue between our government and First Nations government s in the region. The Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' First Nations, from the north west coast of Vancouver Island, joined us for a day of initial learning about each other. The Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' signed a treaty last year and are now in the early stages of being an autonomous government. With treaty, comes the right and requirement to join the Regional District within 10 years, with much the same rights as a municipality at the table. After they expressed readiness to join the SRD board with observer status, I made a motion that was passed unanimously that the Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' First Nations be invited to join our board in that way. This will provide an introduction such that when they choose to fully join the board with voting power and taxation contributions, they will be familiar with our processes and services. There are VERY few BC First Nations with modern day treaties, and I am honored to be a small part of this major and long overdue settling of land title claims and the beginning of a new era of formal first nation governments.

Feel free to contact me about anything you have read here or any other local, regional or advocacy matter. 250-935-0320 or directorcortesisland.com

In Gratitude,
Noba Anderson
Rural Area Director, Cortes Island
Strathcona Regional District