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General News · 24th October 2018
Amanda Nielsen
To the Strathcona Regional District & To Whom Else It May Concern,

I am writing this letter in response to a proposed bylaw put forward by the Strathcona Regional District.
“Bylaw No. 309 Cortes Island Zoning Bylaw 2018”
Unfortunately, my husband Howard and I were unable to attend the meeting on September 5th as we were not on the island on that date. I request led that this letter be read at the Public Hearing and a copy be entered into the records for that meeting.
We bought our property at 298 Sawmill Road last year in order to share with our children & grandchildren the island that we love.
I have a long history on Cortes Island.
My parents have owned a home on Potlatch Road for almost 30 years and continue to enjoy it several months of each year. That cabin has been our yearly summer holiday home since it was purchased. My daughter celebrated her first birthday there and is now bringing her children to the island. We were thrilled to be able to buy this acreage to build our own family home here. We are a blended family of 7 adult children and 10 (with more to come) grandchildren. Our architect has completed plans for a 6 bedroom family home which seems reasonable as it is unlikely we can all be here at the same time. It makes far greater ecological & economic sense for us to build one home with several bedrooms rather than clearing land to build several homes to accommodate our family. And...we like to be will be our family holiday home.

As far as “maintaining rural character” - our property is at the very end of an unpaved dead-end road & we are not building in view of the road nor any of the neighbours. From the ocean, the home will be screened by trees and it would be challenging to spot it from the air. The design is a rustic cannery style with timber frame & will be constructed with wood from our property. There will be no wastage of timber resources. Trees felled will be used for timber and the excess will be cut into firewood logs and the remaining scraps chipped for trail surfaces.

We will mostly arrive & depart from the property by water (boat or floatplane) so there will generally be no extra traffic added to the Cortes roads. If we or our family, do choose to travel by ferry, we are less than a five minute drive north.
Our dock (the current temporary one & the planned permanent one) will serve our family & friends and is not in view of any neighbouring property. We can come and go without disturbance to anyone. The dock will be of a size to accommodate our watercraft and a floatplane. The proposal has been submitted to all the required governing bodies, along with the environmental studies of the site, and is in the process of being approved.
Since purchasing our property, and in the many previous summers, we have contributed positively to the island economy. We often eat out at The Floathouse and the Cove restaurants. We purchase our boat fuel at Gorge Harbour and buy provisions both at the Squirrel Cove Store and at the Mansons store. Providing employment for many local residents on our building project can only serve to increase profits at the local markets, businesses, restaurants & services.

The neighbours that we have met have all expressed how pleased they are that “nice people” have bought the property and that our development footprint is so small.
What many islanders don’t seem to care to do is get to know who we are. Instead of welcoming us with home-baked pies, we have been the target of trespassers, vandals and thieves. This was very surprising and it makes me both sad and angry.
Unfortunately the island rumour mill seems to be in full motion too. For the record, I am a retired elementary school teacher & school administrator. My husband, who is also retired, was a businessman. We are a community-minded couple and are active in several charity endeavours, both locally and globally.

We have some questions of the Regional district.
What has promoted this bylaw at this current time? i.e. what identifiable problems/issues are these amendments trying to address/fix?
Why 415 square meters is chosen as the maximum principal dwelling size? And how is building one larger family home less desirable/less rural than building several residences on our property?
What perceived negative impact will our building project have on the quality of life of the other island residents?
How is one larger family home on 128 acres of land detracting from the rural feel of Cortes Island?

To summarize...
Our goals are simple:
-to enjoy the beautiful property that we have purchased
-to build an island home that suits the needs of our family
-to build a dock the suits the needs of our family
-to live in peace and harmony with our neighbours on the island.

Amanda (& Howard) Nielsen
Property Vandalism
Comment by Donna Collins on 30th January 2019
There is simply no reason for the vandalism you have experienced. It is extremely unfortunate. It seems there is always an issue like this when people assume one person has money and so they take it into their heads that it won't matter if they take that person's property because they have the money to replace it. We seem to have our fair share of vandals just like the larger communities have.

Let me apologize for their behavior. It is not what I would have wished for anyone, let alone someone that is new to the island.
Comment by Helene Aube on 28th October 2018
Also new Cortes, and quickly discovered that there are a lot of incredibly lovely people, that are quick with a smile and helping hand. There is also a very dark side to Cortes where a few think we owe them everything including the free use of our lands, and are ready to vandalise and intimidate if we don't give in to their threats. Like you and many others here, we have worked extremely hard all our lives, saved, and built a future to ensure our retirement. We are always happy to give someone a hand up and we are tired of handouts to people not willing to take care of themselves, demand and expect it, and are under the impression that it is acceptable to destroy someone's right to privacy and peace and quiet .