Joe Stanhope - Re-Elected
French Creek resident Joe Stanhope will serve a fifth three-year term as Regional Director for Area G, and a third term as RDN Board Chair, following re-election by acclamation in local government elections on November 15, 2008. The RDN Board unanimously elected Director Stanhope as its Chair in its inaugural meeting, December 9, 2008. As an RDN Board member Director Stanhope will also chair the Executive Committee and the Sustainability Select Committee. He is a member of the Hospital Select Committee, the Transit Select Committee, the District 69 Community Justice Select Committee, and the Regional Parks and Trails Advisory Committee.
Regional Growth Strategy Review
The Regional Growth Strategy is expanding to address new and emerging sustainability challenges. RDN staff are working with local residents to develop ideas, and broaden the focus of the RGS on issues such as local farming and food production, coordination of land use planning with economic development, and affordable housing. A new RGS will be presented to the Regional Board for approval in early 2010.
The RGS was originally adopted in 1997, and later revised in 2003. It provides direction for the entire region on how and where population centers should exist, how rural and resource lands will be managed, and how communities will work together on regional services. The new RGS will address these and other issues identified in the Review.
In 2008, the RDN hosted two public workshops as part of the Review, and studied ideas and concerns gathered in a public survey. This spring RDN staff are meeting again with local groups to discuss possible changes to the RGS. Residents are also invited to a public forum on April 21, at 7pm, in the Board room of the RDN administration office. Staff will begin drafting the revised RGS over the summer, and consult again with residents on the draft in the fall.
In 2009, the RDN will also conduct a regional affordable housing study focused on the electoral areas, which will support and provide background for possible policy directions in the revised RGS. The study follows data collected in 2008 as part of the RGS Review, in which 23.5 per cent of local survey respondents indicated that they were unable to afford adequate housing.
For more information residents can visit www.ShapingtheFuture.ca. This website includes new RGS workbooks that can be submitted for review by RDN staff, as well as a new survey, and additional background material.
Parks Committee Opening
Local residents can get involved in community parks and recreation management this spring through two available positions on RDN committees. The positions include a one-year term on the Area G Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC), and a three-year term on the District 69 Recreation Commission, with a concurrent membership on the Area G POSAC. Residents must submit an application for either position to the RDN Administration Office by 4pm, April 17, 2009.
The Area G POSAC is one of six electoral area committees of appointed representatives that meet three times per year to discuss RDN community parks and trails, and provide advice to the RDN Board. RDN Electoral Area G Director and Board Chair Joe Stanhope is a member of the Area G POSAC, along with six local residents.
The successful applicant for the three year term on the District 69 Recreation Commission, with a concurrent membership on the Area G POSAC, will have a larger responsibility. This position includes POSAC meetings as well as regular Recreation Commission meetings. The Commission advises the Regional Board on recreation services provided through Oceanside Place in Parksville and Ravensong Aquatic Centre in Qualicum Beach, as well as community programs and grant-in-aid funding provided throughout District 69. All POSAC and Recreation Commission meetings are open to the public.
More information on the committees and the application process is available at www.rdn.bc.ca.
Transfer Station Retrofit, Redevelopment, and Expansion
The RDN is helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions in local communities with a major expansion to its Church Road Transfer Station (CRTS). The $5.5 million project, currently underway, will triple the facilityís capacity to more than 100,000 tonnes of garbage, organics, and recyclables per year, and extend its lifespan past the year 2025. The CRTS will also be ready to accommodate a region-wide expansion of the RDNís Organics Diversion strategy, which will produce more than 12,000 tonnes of food waste annually for transfer at the CRTS by 2012.
The CRTS serves more than 46,000 people in the RDNís northern communities, including Electoral Areas E, F, G, and H, the City of Parksville, and the Town of Qualicum Beach. Garbage brought by local residents and haulers is transferred to the Regional Landfill, recyclables are transferred to the Vancouver Island Recycling Centre in Nanaimo, and organics and yard waste are transferred to the International Composting Corporation Composting facility at Duke Point.
CRTS operations reduce greenhouse gas emissions by diverting methaneproducing waste from the Regional Landfill in Cedar, and decreasing vehicle emissions by helping local haulers avoid driving to the Landfill.
The CRTS project received a major boost in 2008 with a $2.7 million grant through the federal government Gas Tax Transfer program. It was the largest grant received from senior government by the RDN in 2008.
Drinking Water Protection
Electoral area residents throughout the RDN have come together over the past year to consider the importance of water as a shared resource. They have shared a wide variety of ideas and concerns, at public events and in the media, as the balance between our use of water and its environmental impact has been discussed. This focus has promoted a better understanding of our most valuable resource, and laid the groundwork for a new service that helps ensure access to safe, abundant water.
In January the RDN became the first government in BC to establish a service for Drinking Water Protection, following support from electoral area residents in a November 15, 2008 referendum. The new service will include watershed planning to reduce the impacts of population growth and climate change, a limited well testing program, and development of comprehensive water resource data. Through these and other initiatives Drinking Water Protection will work towards sustaining the regional water supply and protecting local surface and groundwater sources.
Drinking Water Protection is provided only in RDN electoral areas, but municipalities will also have the opportunity to participate. All local municipalities have expressed an interest in working with the RDN on shared water issues once the service is established. More information on Drinking Water Protection is available at www.ActionforWater.ca.
Agricultural Advisory Committee
Food security will play a larger role on the regional agenda this year with the establishment of a regional Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC). The RDN Board approved the ten-person committee in June, 2008, and received applications for membership over the winter. The committee will include two residents from School District 68, two residents from District 69, two members of agricultural organizations, one member of a shellfish aquaculture organization, two RDN electoral area directors, and one RDN municipal director.
Communities throughout BC are establishing AACs as global food prices continue to rise, and support for local food production becomes more important. As of January there were 36 AACs in BC. The provincial government has been supportive, enabling AACs to work closely with the BC Agricultural Land Commission to address the needs of local farms inside and outside the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The AAC will hold regular public meetings and provide valuable input to the Regional Board on agriculture issues as they apply to land management, water drainage and groundwater protection, expanded use of ALR lands, and zoning regulations. Watch for more information on the AAC in local newspapers and at www.rdn.bc.ca as meetings begin this year.