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General News · 25th October 2017
Noba Anderson
Fall Greetings from your Regional Director Team – Noba Anderson & Mary Lavelle

Our fall newsletter just hit Cortes mailboxes today and is attached here for you to download and read in full, photos, maps and all. The first paragraph of each article is pasted below to tantalize your further reading.

SRD Takes Bold Connectivity Move
After years of effort advocating for better connectivity, the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) has made the boldest move on any issue since our creation. We have applied to the Federal government’s $500 million Connect to Innovate program for funding to install and publically own a sub-sea fiber-optic cable network that would circumnavigate Vancouver Island and extend north to Prince Rupert potentially landing in some 200 communities! If approved, this would be one of those rare and revolutionary game-changer projects. Rough preliminary costs for the overall strategy are estimated to be $50-60M. Read more in the full newsletter and see the proposed sub-sea fiber-optic cable map.

Whaletown Creek Trail
The new Whaletown Creek Trail connecting Jocelyn Road to Carrington Bay Road is very near completion. The final task is the installation of a bridge over the creek just above the new highways culvert which was just installed to allow better salmon passage upstream. A huge thank-you to our neighborhood volunteer gremlin for working almost singlehandedly on the trail and now the footbridge. An announcement will be made once the bridge is in place and the trail is open for all to enjoy.

Cortes Zoning Bylaw Review
Given that we are in the midst of reviewing the Cortes Zoning Bylaw, the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) recently met to discuss possible amendments. The issues of keen interest to community members include tiny homes, density, aquaculture, forestry, home occupation parameters, a nuisance bylaw and enforcement. This review has been a long time coming and we are grateful for all your good participation. The APC discussed the results of the public zoning bylaw survey (which can be found at www.strathconard.ca/corteszoning). Read more in the full newsletter.

New Hospitals Now Open!
(Mary) Sitting on the Hospital Board, a 40% funder of the Two construction of our two new regional hospitals in Campbell River and Courtenay, during the time of their opening has been a remarkable experience. Two decades of preparation, 4 years of construction, and $600 million later, our two beautiful new hospitals are finished and fully operational. The whole idea behind the hospitals was to make them patient and family centered, and in this we have succeeded. The facilities are beautifully designed in collaboration with over 20 user groups, including first nations, patient advisory committees, physicians, nurses, food services, laundry, housekeeping, and management. read more in the full newsletter.

Solid Waste Management
Our new landfill in Cumberland opened in August. This $16.1 million project serves both the Comox Valley and Strathcona Regional District areas. The project’s two main components are the landfill’s first lined cell and the leachate treatment facility. The Landfill cell has an engineered liner system to collect and divert leachate to an equalization pond. From the lined pond the leachate is directed to the treatment facility, which removes contaminants and returns clean water back to the environment. Recycling and diverting materials from the landfill is a top priority. The more we can reduce, reuse, recycle, the longer the landfill will last. An educational video has been developed about the landfill and can be viewed at www.cswm.ca/landfill

Cortes Hall Tax again at the SRD
(Noba) As almost every Cortes Islander knows by now, the matter of funding our community halls, in part through a property tax, is again formally before the Regional District. We have received petitions, both for and against, and many of your letters. In 2010, efforts failed to put the issue to a formal vote through referendum and those who support the tax have recently revived the issue. In 2010, the proposal was for a Cortes-wide parcel tax not to exceed $85 per year ($79,000 maximum in total) to support both the Gorge and Manson’s Halls for core operating and maintenance costs. read more in the full newsletter.

Transportation Study
The Cortes Transportation Study has been completed. Thanks to Bunt and Associates, Kate Maddigan and Max Thaysen for their work on the ground gathering your input on viable ideas for how to improve our transportation options. The study is now with the Regional District staff who will craft their recommendations, after which it will be shared for a good community discussion on next steps.

Union of BC Municipalities Convention
(Mary) I attended the UBCM province-wide local government conference in September. It was a busy week ending with Premier John Horgan’s speech. The feeling overall was very positive, and the new government seemed genuinely interested in listening to us. I was in the SRD team that met with Minister of Health Adrian Dix to discuss future funding for the Strathcona Regional Health Network. While no promises were made, he seemed interested in the initiative. Read more in the full newsletter.

Cortes Fire Department’s Proposed First Responder Program
The Cortes Island Fire Department is proposing to become equipped with a First Responder program. First Responders attend immediately to critical ambulance calls and provide patient care to the public until the arrival of the ambulance. To train and equip for this new community service, the Cortes Island Fire Fighting Association (CIFFA) will be asking the Strathcona Regional District to consider a tax increase of approximately $40,000 in 2018 and $20,000 per year thereafter. If you are interested in this discussion, please attend the CIFFA AGM and budget discussion on November 30th, 7 pm at Manson’s Hall. For further information please refer to the Fire Department’s 'News' section on their website www.cortesfire.org or contact the CIFFA’s president, Chris Walker at chrispwalkergmail.com, or 935-6755.

Community Health Network
(Noba) While on partial maternity leave, I have continued to co-chair the Strathcona Community Health Network which has secured funding for our project priorities including a regional housing plan and a transportation forum. The goal of our transportation strategy is to improve access to affordable and reliable transportation options throughout the region. As we experience acutely here on Cortes, transport is intrinsically related to access to healthy and affordable food and also has an influence on housing. Access to transport is also tied to mental and physical health and regional prosperity. We will be engaging community leaders and bringing us together to discuss how we can collaborate and leverage common opportunities. I expect, due to Cortes’ recent focus on transportation, we will highlight our community-based research on this topic. Read more in the full article.