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General News · 28th May 2019
Noba Anderson
Happy Early Summer to All

Needless to say it is a strange time at the Regional District Board table when it comes to Cortes business… But here are a few matters of particular interest that have arisen since my last report a month ago.

Grant-In-Aid
After approving a Grant-In-Aid last month to the Klahoose First Nation for their internationally significant repatriation work, the Regional District Board last week denied all of my remaining annual grant-in-aid recommendations. These included core operating grants to the Cortes Museum, Manson’s Hall, Gorge Hall, FOCI, Cortes Radio, Linnaea and the new Women’s Centre.

Cortes Advisory Planning Commission
After 4 months delay, the Strathcona Regional District Board voted last week to not appoint a Cortes Advisory Planning Commission at this time. A pending SRD press release will, I understand, provide some rationale for the Board’s decision.

Broadband Community Plan
Wednesday June 19th from 4-6 pm at Manson’s Hall (See attached poster)

As I have previously reported, the Strathcona Regional District is leading the $45 million Connected Coast project (www.connectedcoast.ca), funded entirely by senior governments, to lay fibre optic cable on the ocean floor circumnavigating Vancouver Island and up the coast to Haida Gwaii (see attached map). This Regional District-owned sub-sea cable will land on the shores of Cortes Island at the Klahoose First Nation, Seaford, Manson’s Landing and Whaletown (as well as Refuge Cove on Redonda). But where to from there? A cable end is no good unless we develop the infrastructure to bring that high-speed internet into your homes and businesses.

Two prioritized actions, as identified in Cortes’ recent Local Economic Action Plan (found here https://www.cortesisland.com/cgi-bin/tideline/show_articles.cgi?ID=11285&TOPIC=0), state:
- Lobby the Provincial government to implement wireless internet, and
- Develop last mile technology to take full advantage of the SRD’s publicly owned fibre optic cable.

The Regional District will be developing a Boardband Community Plan for Cortes Island that outlines our community’s anticipated future internet uses and associated last-mile infrastructure options. To do this, we of course need to hear from you! We need to craft our community’s vision on how better internet connectivity could shape Cortes and what type of new investments we feel this may create. There will soon by money available from senior government to assist in building this last-mile connectivity. Through the development of our Cortes Boardband Community Plan we will be very well positioned, indeed right at the head of the pack, to take full advantage of these funding opportunities.

SO, we need your input! Please join our Broadband Community Plan presentation and workshop, open to all, on Wednesday June 19th from 4-6 pm at Manson’s Hall. We are especially hoping to see representation from business and those interested in driving initiatives through better broadband. You will have the opportunity to learn about broadband and new infrastructure projects, share ideas on our digital future and get inspired thinking about the real-world possibilities. See you there!

Hall Service Referendum
The SRD Board Chair and Chief Administrative Officer will be coming to Manson’s Hall at 6 pm on June 6th to further engage us on the matter of a Cortes hall service. (See attached poster)

For 9 years, I have been asking the Regional District Board to allow you to decide if you want to fund your own community halls through property taxation. All I am asking is an opportunity for you to vote. A detailed SRD staff report from June of last year concluded by saying “As is evident from the comments received, that residents are deeply divided on whether community halls should receive a contribution raised through taxation. While there is no accord, there is a desire by both sides that the issue be resolved.” 70% of you also indicated in the fall non-binding referendum that you also wanted a final vote on this matter. I am now, finally, getting every indication from the SRD is that this where we are headed – to a final referendum vote this fall.

Cortes has been engaged on the community hall tax service issue for 10 years and the Regional District has received more correspondence on this issue than possibly all other Cortes issues combined for the past decade. I argued at the Board table that there would be no new substantive information acquired through another (3rd or 4th?) round of consultation on this matter. I further pointed out that it would only serve to further aggravate the Cortes community, especially in this time of heightened citizen concern with a number of matters currently before the SRD Board. However, here we are, being called to gather at 6 pm on Thursday June 6th at Manson’s Hall. We need a final referendum vote. We then need the SRD Board to follow the majority will. We need finality. See you there.

In gratitude for the honour of this office, even in these strange times….

Noba Anderson
Regional Director for Cortes Island to the Strathcona Regional District
nandersonsrd.ca 250-935-0320