Thursday, 17 November 2011

SCRD meetings for the last two days of the campaign

Today, after the visits to the local stores in the morning, I attended the SCRD Community Services Committee meeting where discussions were held on improvements to the recreation centers and funding for youth activities. Managers then gave presentations on development permits and bylaw infractions.

Friday morning, I will be putting up the last of my political signs and waving to all those going to work in Sechelt or on the way to the ferry. My new signs will ask for your votes for Garry Nohr, who will spend your local residental taxes for local SCRD services.

Friday afternoon,  the SCRD board will be meeting to discuss actions in the watershed.

Although the issue of getting salmon to return to Clowhom Lake is a federal fisheries issue, I will be contacting the federal Fisheries Ministry to ask why the fish ladders where not put in when they built the dam and if there were in fact sockeye in the lake before the dam.

FYI...the following answer was prepared by Dion Whyte, Manager of Sustainable Services, in response to a question raised by a candidate.

Drywall received at landfills is hauled by our contractor (Direct Disposal) to New West Gypsum where it is recycled into new drywall.  It is a highly recyclable product and all gypsum as well as the paper backing the board is used in the recycling process.

Tipping fees for drywall are currently $265 per tonne.  Any contaminated loads received at landfills (of any controlled waste, not just drywall) are charged at twice the regular tipping fee + $100 per hour to cover the cost of equipment and staff time to sort and properly handle the load.   The regular tipping fee covers all costs associated with rental of the bins, hauling of the material, and the tipping fee charged at New West Gypsum.

Bins are not covered.  This is fairly standard practice at most facilities.  Solid Waste has, in the past, tried a few alternatives for covering the bins.  Here are the challenges:

1) Putting a shed style roof over the bins is problematic, mainly because many of our customers arrive with large trucks or trailers that dump (hydraulic dumping mechanisms) into the bins.  Any overhead structure would be in the way and likely to get damaged or pose a safety hazard. 
2) SCRD has in the past tried different means of covering bins including tarping, putting fitted lids onto the bins and using covered bins with a trap door in the top.  Taking these on and off in between customer visits was very labour intensive and also presented Worksafe hazards (working and reaching out over a falling hazard).  I also understand customers complained bitterly about this as it further increased wait times to drop off gypsum at the sites.  The practice was discontinued for these reasons.
3) SCRD's base winter schedule (when we have all the rain) provides for one single waste monitor at the Sechelt Landfill and only a Scale Attendant at the Pender Landfill.  In the case of Pender it is not logistically possible for staff to cover/uncover bins between customer visits (safety issues aside), and at Sechelt Landfill this would impair the waste monitor's ability to perform other tasks.  Also, a single person trying to lift or drag a cover onto a large roll-off bin is not safe.

We have discussed options for covering bins at the end of the work day (once per day) and uncovering before the site opens (once per day), however we would need to revise our staffing schedule to provide two people on site before and after hours and allow a bit more time for opening/closing procedures (currently the staffing is staggered and there is usually only one staff person on site at these times).

Anecdotally, we track the tonnages of drywall leaving our landfills and the tonnage arriving at New West Gypsum.  Sometimes our inbound weights at landfills are lower than the inbound weights at New West Gypsum, suggesting there is water contributing to the added weight.  However, sometimes our inbound weights are actually higher than those at New West suggesting the stuff has lost mass (water?) along the way.  We've tried to analyze the "cost" of water added to the drywall but there appears to be no consistent trend here.

FYI - WCB has ordered New West Gypsum to implement a new Asbestos Control Program.  SCRD and other local governments are developing plans to screen out potential asbestos containing loads at our sites.  More information will come to ISC when we have something to report, but we expect this will have a significant impact on the way we collect drywall at our facilities and on the way builders and homeowners are required to conduct their demolition projects.

Costs:  Our contractor receives $722 per bin hauled from Sechelt Landfill and $896 per bin hauled from Pender Harbour Landfill (these costs include bin rental). Bins hold 7-9 tonnes of drywall when full so rough cost per tonne for hauling is $100.  New West Gypsum currently charges $85 per tonne plus additional charges for any contaminants (e.g. if garbage gets into the bin) which occurs on occasion.  Total cost per tonne (without including costs of staffing, overhead, equipment, etc) is $185 per tonne.  Our charges are higher than this to ensure full cost recovery and any overages charged by New West Gypsum.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Visit to the Halfmoon Bay Community School AGM

This evening I had an enjoyable time attending the Community School AGM, at which the new executive was voted in. The agenda included a video presentation showing how parents are impressed with the school and the Halfmoon Bay community. The great work of the coordinator, Sue Lamb, makes all this possible.

Attendees were treated to a talk on the OCP (Official Community Plan) by Ron Breadner, a member of the committee. He explained the process that the committee is going through, with the input of the community, to take Halfmooon Bay land use planning to 2031.  He also clarified what an OCP is, in case there was any confusion about its purpose and formulation.

First November Halfmoon Bay Newsletter

Check your inboxes for the first Halfmoon Bay Newsletter for the election week of November 2011, which has been mailed out.

Newsletter topics of note:

  • Process for selecting Director's alternate                                                     
  • Information from the Vice-Chair on hospital expansion and new equipment
  • Information for new candidates on the role of an SCRD director
  • Advance poll date: Wednesday November 16, 2011
  • Election day: Saturday, November 19, 2011
For more information or to be added to my mailing list, contact me at:

Monday, 14 November 2011

Responsiblity of an SCRD Director

Reprint from latest Coast Watch in the Local, November 10, 2011:

Coast Watch

In their elected role, the Sunshine Coast Regional District directors monitor the budgets for drinking water, solid waste programs, hospital, fire departments, recreational centers, Emergency 911 services, sustainability programs, regional parks, and walking paths. Within these major areas, there are over 100 other smaller functions, such as recycling, which is a sub-function of solid waste management. The regional areas, A, B, D, E, and F, are in these budget functions but could also be in a function for their area only. For example, the Roberts Creek Fire Department is funded by the taxpayers in that area only. The regional district budgets are controlled by a silo system, which means tax funding for parks can only be used for parks, while and another function, such as water, must have its own budget. A director must understand the funding of each function in order to make an informed decision on the budget. This means a director must attend each meeting going into the budget process and listen to the work plans and proposed budget changes by each department. This budget process takes about four months each year and the bylaw for the SCRD budget must be passed by March 31. Regional District budgets cannot run a deficit.

An effective understanding of the budget process is only gained by reading all of the material produced, as well as the bylaws associated with each department. A director cannot change any of these budgets without the support of a majority of the other directors. This means that no director can put an individual project or initiative forward without support from the board

There are several areas or concerns that are not part of the Regional District’s mandate: fishing (fish farms, fish ladders, and fish hatcheries); forestry (logging, forestry roads, operations, and policies); highways and roads (ditches, potholes, and snow clearing); coastal waters (Georgia Strait, Sechelt Inlet, and Howe Sound); mining (mining claim process and environmental assessments); independent power projects (planning, construction, and environmental assessment of IPPs); and subdivision applications (responsibility of the Ministry of Transportation).

The regional director might monitor the above and lobby the federal and provincial government for changes in policy or to address local constituents’ concerns.

There are situations where the people of the Sunshine Coast request support on issues such as affordable housing, tourism, economic development, arts and culture, and youth programs; if the whole board agrees, the SCRD will fund these programs. Whenever something comes forward that might not fit into provincially legislated SCRD functions, a legal process to make a change must be followed.

Please feel free to contact me either by email or phone on any issue. Cell: 604-741-7729 or Check my website at

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Regional District All-Candidates Meeting

My opening remarks at the all-candidates meeting, November, 8, 2011:

In the last two elections, I said I would listen to all constituents’ concerns. I kept that promise and will continue to listen. This commitment is even more important in a time of economic downturn. The next three years will mean tight budgets, while striving to maintain services, support jobs, and protect the environment.

If re-elected, I will work to keep taxes as low as possible while making sure we get full benefit of SCRD services. I will continue to work on seniors’ issues and affordable housing. As clean drinking water is a great concern of mine, I will be monitoring this issue not only in Chapman Creek but in other areas in the Regional District.

Since being elected in 2005, I have dealt with budgets, recreation centers, watershed issues, hospital expansion, and ongoing concerns about mining and IPPs. During the six years I have served, I have frequently met with provincial ministers to further Sunshine Coast causes and got them to listen to our concerns, especially in order to further our desire to manage the watershed.

I have a record of supporting the Halfmoon Bay Volunteer Fire Department, auxiliary coast guard, and Citizens on Patrol. I worked to get Connor Park upgrades, such as improved washrooms and other amenities. I also collaborated with the School Board and local governments to get baseball and soccer fields in other areas of the Coast.

Before I was first elected, I spent six months preparing and informing myself. When I went to SCRD, I had a list of 70 to-do items. This list is now down to less than 10, but the remaining ones need further effort on my part to be accomplished.

I have built good working relationships with other SCRD directors, the two mayors, and their councils to strengthen support for SCRD initiatives and Halfmoon Bay concerns. Most important of all to me, I have established and maintained constant, open communication with the people of Halfmoon Bay. This interaction, via weekly visits to the two general stores and regular email newsletters, has promoted high community involvement.

If re-elected, I will continue to work for all constituents and to hold the line on SCRD spending. I have proven my full-time commitment to the people of Halfmoon Bay. I have the experience for continued success and look forward to working for the community for another three years.

At Coopers Green, please vote for Garry Nohr on November 19th for Director of Halfmoon Bay.

Green Issues Forum

On November 7, 2011, I participated in a question-and-answer forum hosted by the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA). Here are my answers to the four questions that the SCCA posed to all candidates:

Question 1 Joint Watershed Management Agreement
I was one of those that called for a stoppage of logging in the watershed under the precautionary principle, which resulted in the Health Board hearings. I felt I had to take a position that water is more important that any resource extraction. We lost the case in court, but we made other districts and the provincial government aware of the need for a solution. This court case I feel prompted the provincial government to review the water act. Although the SCRD has met with all the pertinent ministers, and even the premier, to get support for our agreement to manage the watershed, we have not been successful as yet, but we keep going back with new proposals and new avenues to get their attention.

As a director, I have supported the concept of community forests, as they were brought in to help keep jobs in the local communities. I have attended the provincial AGM to listen to other companies speak on governance and use of funds in their community. The local Community Forest is reaching out to community concerns by constantly seeking public input to their plans. I feel that board meetings should include an initial open session to allow public input prior moving to in-camera discussion. I heard at a Community Forest meeting a year ago that SCPI was hiring a part-time economic development consultant and that they were prepared to spend $200,000 on value-added industries. I am waiting patiently to hear that this has happened.

Question 2 Envision the Coast
My views on sustainability changed with the SCRD signing on to the Climate Action Charter. This alone made me re-examine any decision to build or renovate assets of the Regional District without looking at reducing the footprint and emissions. I am pleased to be able to say the Sunshine Coast is one step closer to having an integrated community-wide action plan for a healthy and sustainable future. The draft of We Envision was created by a team of individuals from community organizations and local governments. Working towards sustainability means recognizing the interconnectedness of all things; it means taking thoughtful, innovative steps today to ensure that people and ecosystems flourish into the future.

The next step must be to design a pragmatic action plan that would include a clear chronology and prioritized listing of what we can do immediately with little or no cost and what could be done if taxpayers were willing to fund the initiatives. All priorities could be stated in terms of five-year increments, with costs starting from what could be done immediately.

Question 3 Zero Waste
The SCRD is working towards the goal of zero waste and has just passed a Solid Waste Management Plan. The next phase is to examine the cost to the taxpayer of implementing the waste management and recycling programs. There is a push towards having recycling venues and green waste drop-offs close to residential areas, because most people feel that this could reduce illegal dumping and backyard burning in some areas.

Question 4 Species at Risk
One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with bio-diversity is to encourage public trust in the effectiveness of conservation initiatives undertaken by companies and the federal and provincial governments to protect ecosystems and species at risk. You only have to look at pictures of the Chapman Watershed in the 90s and the recent Tyson Creek IPP silt problem to understand why this trust is not easy. One of my constituents who lives in Narrows Inlet informs me of the loss of wildlife in that area because of further expansion of the resource industry. We require carefully planned collective action or we could be soon be in difficulty in SCRD crown land. The SCRD cannot do this alone—we need to bring the whole Coast into the plan.