Area B Director’s Update- by Sierra Acton
One upside to the fight against the contaminated soil dump was the many new friendships that were created standing on that hill. We were brought together by our love for community, our belief in what was right and our passion to protect this valley for future generations. Those shared values galvanized many new friendships. One of those new friends was Heidi Goddard and she is now my Alternate Director. Heidi and her daughter where literally the ‘poster child’ for the Save Shawnigan Water Campaign: the photo of her standing in front of a truck, in the dark, with a baby strapped to her chest. She is dedicated to her community like so many others that braved those cold, dark mornings. I’m thrilled that Heidi will be filling in for me, when I can’t attend. Heidi is also the Vice Chair of the Shawnigan Lake Community Center Commission. Heidi is not the only one starting a new role; I was elected to Vice Chair of the CVRD Board on the night of the Board inauguration, which is a new role for me as well. I am excited for the challenge of this new position and the associated opportunity to grow and learn. I will be working with my friend and mentor, Ian Morrison, who is the CVRD Board Chair.
Budget season is coming up at the CVRD. This means the Board will be reviewing all of the tax allocations for the various Areas. Certainly with the new Housing and Water functions, I will not be advocating to increase taxes on extra expenditures if they are not a priority. If anyone has input on this topic or anything else CVRD related, please contact me.
This week the courts decided in favour of the CVRD on a crucial zoning issue. Specifically, that a sawmill is not a home based business and that the commercial use of a sawmill is not permitted in an area that is zoned residential. The decision affirms the Regional District’s zoning authority and validates that the CVRD’s decision to pursue bylaw enforcement action in this case was supported by law. Any further commercial activity at the site in question will be in violation of a court order. Unfortunately, going to court is expensive and it ends up costing tax payers a significant amount of money. (Bylaw is very challenging for electoral areas as we don’t have as many enforcement and regulations ‘tools’ as municipalities.)
A message from our Local MOTI Rep on Preparing your home and property for winter, rain and snow storms;
We advises that home owners check culverts, gutters, downspouts and perimeter drains around their house to ensure everything is working properly, and free from debris.
Mainroad Contracting will make every effort to keep roadside catch basins, culverts, and ditches clear.
Residents are requested to help by not depositing debris, leaves or garden trimmings in drainage ditches, and by preventing debris from accumulating against ditches.
Homeowner Drainage Checklist
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Sierra Acton-Director Area B
Thank You Shawnigan! I look forward to serving you for the next 4 Years.
By Sierra Acton, Area B Director
Thank you area B for your vote of confidence. You spoke loud and clear; I am honoured. I am also excited to have a full 4 year term to work towards our goals. This October, I enjoyed talking with community about our future. We all share a similar vision and the top priorities are;
As I went door to door this fall, a repeated concern was the lack of services compared to our tax dollars. In Area B, the Cowichan Valley Regional Districts also acts as our local government since we are not incorporated. The District may not be perfect, but I will be using my experience with the board to help influence better land use decisions, bylaw enforcement and more fiscal responsibility. At the CVRD, Shawnigan Lake has one seat at a table of 15. The system was designed for rural areas and so our needs are not met by this system. For example, we can not control the speeds on our roads, in our neighbourhoods, or even create proper drainage at the lowest parts of the village. The Regional District is limited to what and how it can perform services. However, Incorporated areas have full control of their services and tax dollars. Did you know Ladysmith residents pay the same in taxes as we do? They are the same population and have control of their roads, policing, water, and sewer. Budget season will be starting, I look forward to many more view points on how we should be supported by local government.
Please join me at my next Director’s Meeting on December 3rd to discuss our taxes and anything else you would like to discuss about the role of the Regional District. Most importantly; being Area Director is a huge role and there are many opportunities for community members to help out. Should you wish to explore ways to get involved, big or small... let’s connect. Love it! Share it! Protect It!
Director Area B
Thank you for the opportunity to answer some questions before the election.
Love it! Share it! Protect it!
It has been an honour to represent the community of Shawnigan Lake for the last year. As your Area Director I have learned a lot. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Shawnigan Lake again, if re-elected on October 20th. A successful Director strives to build community, create consensus and hear both sides of the story. It is a great role and am a creative entrepreneurial thinker with a “can do” attitude.
Our community misses out on many opportunities due to the fact that the 100k tones of contaminated fill still sits at the top of our watershed; it has to be removed. I have built an excellent working relationship with the Ministry of Environment Staff, our Shawnigan Research Group and our MLA (and mentor.) This ongoing issue is a priority for me. I am also concerned with supporting the preservation of our natural areas while thoughtfully developing our village, so the community can live and work locally.
Not only have I learned a lot about myself and the community, I have also learned that nothing gets done without funding. In order to have funding come back to our community, CVRD Board approval is required. Around the board table I have been your voice. I have demonstrated and earned the respect of the board which has resulted in bringing home funding to our community. Despite the challenges associated with non-regional functions, we were able to have an illegal garbage dumping campaign, $175k of regional support for our community centre and $10K of lab fees for our Shawnigan Research Team of Professionals to conduct water quality and sediment monitoring for contaminants in Shawnigan Creek and Lake. In addition, through ongoing work with Economic Development Cowichan we will receive support and funding for signage to support our village and local businesses in 2018/19. I have also just initiated a new policy framework for amenity contributions, to remove the subjectivity and improve the outcome for the community during a re-zoning (more to come on that.) I am also awaiting a review of extending the time between committee meetings and final decisions at the Board in consideration of a longer public input time period to help improve transparency.
Like you, I have just one vote for the referendum questions. Water and housing are extremely important for our area and the region. I know the people of Shawnigan care about each other, our local environment and the ability to have safe affordable housing for children, youth, families and seniors. Currently it is very difficult for youth and aging seniors to stay in Shawnigan Lake if they want smaller more affordable housing. With this in mind, I have also started a conversation on our zoning and bylaws in support of the housing crisis. I look forward to additional conversations on how Electoral Areas can play a role in creating the housing stock we need in our community by reviewing and modernizing some of our bylaws and zoning. If elected, I would like to start the modernization of our bylaws so that they reflect the way we want to live now versus 20 years ago
I have built significant momentum on a number of key issues and I hope I will be given the opportunity to continue with these initiatives and more over the next four years.
On October 20th, Vote for SIERRA ACTON.
Please get informed on the referendum questions; www.cvrd.bc.ca/drinkingwater & www.cvrd.bc.ca/housing
Nothing is more important than our health and access to excellent health care facilities is a very important part of that. In October 2016, the Cowichan Valley regional Hospital District finalized the purchase of three properties on Bell McKinnen Rd. Just recently the Concept Plan was approved by the Hospital Board for our new hospital, which is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2024. The next phase is to prepare a detailed business plan; this being the most important part of the planning process. It will engage stakeholders at all levels including planners, architects, engineers and other experts who will complete the detailed plans for the hospital. Business planning will also include a review of the location choice as well as a final decision regarding the selection and recommendations for placement of the hospital within the selected site. Without a doubt, improvements to our health care and support services are needed in the valley. I feel very blessed for our community that it’s on the way.
The Community and Shawnigan Lake School have a long history of collaborating and sharing this community and it’s LAKE. They stood with community and aided our battle to stop the contaminated soil dump and, most recently, provided a professional plan to help manage the milfoil as a community. I met the new Head Master, Larry Lamont, at the end of August. He has a great sense of humour and complements former Headmaster Robertson’s philosophies, especially his appreciation for working with the community. Headmaster Lamont is open to even more outreach and sharing of resources in the community, which is an exciting opportunity for all of us. I look forward to our next meeting, once he is more settled in the role. Unfortunately there has been some recent confusion about the School, Rowing Canada and their RFP for a new National Training Centre. The school has no intention of suggesting that they (or anyone else) have priority over any other lake users, they simply hope to continue to enjoy the lake in a respectful and courteous manner as we all have for decades. However, if Rowing Canada continues to train here, it would now be official as part of three facilities that Team Canada calls home. Personally I love seeing people enjoy the outdoors and the lake all year round and I wish Shawnigan Lake School much success in sharing their rowing facility and our community.
I will be voting Yes on election day, October 20th, on the referendum questions presented on the voting ballot. One, an asset important to all of us, is clean water. The other is Affordable housing, which is another necessity and can potentially affect us all. Please learn more about the referendum questions at www.cvrd.bc.ca/drinkingwater & www.cvrd.bc.ca/housing
Another initiative that is underway is the updating of the Solid Waste Management Plan, which is a regional project that is looking at future Municipal Solid Waste requirements based on regulatory requirements, best management practices and local needs. This project includes an interactive planning process with a Public Advisory Committee, a Board Oversight Committee and a technical committee. The CVRD team is in the process of engaging with the public to receive your feedback, which will continue until Sept 15th. There are three Open Houses scheduled to gather feedback from the public, the closest being at Cobble Hill on Sept 11th. Your input would be greatly appreciated.
Enjoy your fall everyone! Please connect and share your views on many important issues like the referendum questions and the Solid Waste Management Plan.
Director Area B
Shawnigan is even more amazing when the sun shines; so many people are out walking, riding bikes, enjoying the lake or our many parks. In June the population starts climbing as snowbirds return and summer vacationers are welcomed back. Sometimes change and reintroduction can be a challenge. We all love this place and we all feel more connected to place and each other when we share it and help each other out.
The Milfoil plan, sponsored by Shawnigan Lake School to help us deal with the invasive Milfoil weed, is now on the CVRD's Website ( https://www.cvrd.bc.ca/DocumentCenter/View/89788/Shawnigan-Milfoil-Report_Final ) THANK YOU Shawnigan Lake School for your partnership. The Cowichan Valley Regional District has added the Shawnigan Milfoil issue to their Invasive Species Plan for 2019. This year the SLS plan points out simple suggestions and best practices. It is believed that this weed has been here for nearly 5 decades, unmanaged, so this year the plan suggests that we monitor the lakefront and see how the milfoil behaves.
The BC Summer Games are coming to the Valley from July 19th to the 22nd. Be sure to catch one of the sports being hosted in Area B and support youth sport in BC: Watersports will be hosted at the Victoria Aqua Ski Club (VASC), Rugby will hosted at Shawnigan Lake School and Lacrosse will be hosted at Kerry Park Arena. There will be many other sports through out the area though, so check out the schedule of events at https://www.bcgames.org/Games/BCSummerGames/AbouttheGames.aspx
The CVRD is working on a petition process for a number of properties who have no fire protection. The area not covered is around Goldstream and Stebbings Rd. Unfortunately, if you live in that area, you are likely not protected (even if you applied for coverage.) To be certain, contact Jason de Jong at (250) 746-2564 or JdeJong@cvrd.bc.ca. The petition will require more than 50% of the properties to register for service or that area will still not be covered. If anyone would like to get more information please contact Jason or look up your address at GISPORTAL. Properties in the protection area can expect a letter in the mail by the fall.
A fond farewell to Sarah and Angus Mackay who have been working hard for our community since they got here in Shawnigan Lake only two years ago. Their contributions will forever be remembered in our Timber framed Pavilion. Thank you Sarah and Angus for all you’ve done and good luck on your next adventure.
I wish returning and full time community members a fun, safe and healthy summer. As always, I look forward to connecting! If there is something you would like to discuss, please call/text 250-715-6763 or email Sacton@cvrd.bc.ca
Director’s Report May 2018- Sierra Acton CVRD Director Area B
The values and priorities of our community were highlighted this month with the Watershed Protection initiative, the Illegal Garbage Dumping campaign and a reminder to the Province to remove the contaminated soil. The theme of protecting our piece of paradise came shining through as this community continues to build bonds and connections thus further strengthening our sense of community. I think we can all agree, “We love this place!”
The CVRD Board agrees with the people that water is our most important asset. The Board is asking the citizens of the Cowichan Valley if we want a regional function to manage and protect water (estimated at $7/$100K assessed value.) The first step is collecting input from residents on how we would like to see this new service managed and then agreeing to the initiative through a referendum during the October Municipal Elections. If passed, it will be up to the new CVRD Board to determine what exactly the CVRD will deliver.
Lately I have been getting complaints about unsightly premises (e.g. dead cars, junk spread around, etc.) I delivered a report to the Board highlighting what we invest in Tourism, Economic Development and Parks, yet we allow these premises to remain even though they are usually near the gateways to our communities. I was told that not many people complain about these issues. Unfortunately, bylaw at the CVRD is complaint driven. If you would like to see a focus on cleaning this up, I suggest you write about your concerns to email@example.com and cc myself, Sacton@cvrd.bc.ca. This will document the issue and enable the Board to determine it as a priority for 2019.
Area B’s Illegal Garbage Campaign had a spectacular kick off with a litter clean up rally for Earth Day (over 2000lbs of garbage were collected in Shawnigan alone!) The event would not have been a success without the organization of Kim Barnard and the sponsorship of the South Cowichan Rotary... THANK YOU! In addition, the CVRD is starting its Illegal Garbage Campaign that will be targeting dumping hot spots here in Shawnigan. You can expect roadside signage, radio ads, newspaper ads and more bylaw presence. Keeping our parks and trails garbage free depends on all of us: if you see any illegal dumping please call RAPP (Report All Poachers & Polluters) at #7277 or 1-877-952-7277.
This month I also attended AVICC (Association Vancouver Island Coastal Communities) and it was a huge eye opener for me. It was really great to see municipal elected officials come together to influence change at the provincial and federal level. I’m very excited by the potential impacts that could come from this association and the Province wide equivalent. In addition, I attended a presentation by Justin Langlois who presented on the topic of Making Art in Public: Exploring Creativity and Participatory Placemaking. It was really exciting to see so many creative ideas that were inexpensive, but could add so much to our sense of community. I know we have a creative and engaging community, so do not hesitate if you have an idea; I’m your “YES” person and I will help in any way that I can.
Well done Shawnigan!!! It has been a while since we stood along the road waving signs, but you certainly didn’t forget how it’s done. The Shawnigan Residents Association set out to organize the community in an effort to let the Province know it’s time for REMOVAL of the 100k tonnes of contaminated soil at the SIA site. I was deeply grateful to all of those who showed up at 7:30am on a Friday to support this effort. It was great to see more than a hundred concerned community members waving their Save Shawnigan Water signs. The next step is a letter writing campaign. We are currently looking for 6-8 people to lead this campaign, so if you are interested please get in touch. If you don’t want to wait until we are organized, please write the following Ministers (pen and paper is best);
Minister George Heyman
642 West Broadway
Phone: (604) 775-2453
Minister Michelle Mungall
433 Josephine Street,
Premier John Horgan
122 – 2806 Jacklin Road
If there’s anything I can help with do not hesitate to contact me:
FB: Sierra Acton Area B
This is an important time to take action and stay informed. In the next few months many issues will be brought forward by various levels of government for the communities discussion and input. Regionally, the CVRD will be reaching out for input on a variety of initiatives such as water management and housing. In addition, the Province will be sharing their plans for the contaminated Soil facility, the Shawnigan Lake RCMP Detachment and Policing in South Cowichan.
The Province is working on a closure plan for SIA that may include leaving more than 100K tones of contaminated soil in our watershed. Love of community and our watershed will give us the strength for this last push to get it removed. There are three ways you can help:
1. Attend a Panel discussion given by the Shawnigan Research Group on Monday April 9th at 7pm at the Shawnigan Lake Community Centre
2. Write to Minister Heyman and Premier Horgan to “do the right thing”
3. Attend the “Rally for Removal” on April 20th @ 7:30am-9am at Stebbing’s Rd and Shawnigan Lake Road.
To stay up to date, double check that you are on the Shawnigan Residence Association (www.thesra.ca) mailing list so you can stay up to date on those plans... now would be a good time to start working on some clever signs.
“Affordable housing” “The Missing Middle” and “Housing Strategy” are one of the many terms being discussed lately around housing at the Provincial level and at the Regional District. Last Month I was fortunate to hear Minister Selena Robertson present her commitment to Housing in BC. Her mandate to Protect housing for British Columbians was very clear and thought provoking. She acknowledged that the local governments have to play a role since they are closest to the communities that they serve and have a better understanding of the issues. Her government has committed $5M over the next 3 years to help local governments gather the data and create strategies around the housing shortage. Housing Cowichan has partnered with the CVRD and will be looking to the public for input and support in the creation of a tax requisition. This is crucial in order to be ready for the significant funding promised by the federal government.
Thank you again Shawnigan Lake School for hiring an environmental firm to research and write a Milfoil study and Plan. Currently the CVRD is reviewing it and will present it to the Board along with the invasive species plan for consideration. The community is all set to work together on what seems to be a daunting task. Stay tuned more to come.
I met with our local RCMP and their Provincial Representatives this month. Locally I met with Cpl. Dave Williams, who had a few reminders to pass on to community: lock your cars, report suspicious people (like someone knocking on your door pretending to look for someone), lock your house up, and don’t consider a comment on Facebook a report to the police. He also advised that if you suspect an illegal grow op, report it to the office to open a file and the RCMP will check with Health Canada. Cpl. Williams confessed that the biggest challenge to our local detachment is paperwork. This is where the Province can help. South Cowichan Directors and local RCMP just recently met with the Provincial RCMP and the Provincial Government. The province has designated $2-3M for renovations to the Shawnigan Lake Detachment and are hopeful that they will work with North Cowichan by sharing space and resources. Bottom line is, we will have more service coverage and keep our officers locally. The province will communicate out the whole plan in a few months and will look for communities input on design and planning.
I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with the community and hearing all your input in the months to come.
As a community we know water is something worth protecting and fighting for. The Shawnigan Research Group (SRG) continues to advocate for the community on two major water related issues; water quality in the Shawnigan Basin and the contaminated fill site owned by Cobble Hill Holdings. Even though the dumping at that site has ceased, there still remains more than one hundred thousand (100k) tons of contaminated fill. Most of the SRG’s time is still spent analyzing the Ministry of Environment reports and monitoring of the site. The SRG remains strongly committed to getting the contaminated soil removed. They are also working on a water quality program that will help monitor the health of the lake. Currently the Ministry of Environment is conducting some additional tests to add to the research and help further protect one of our most valued assets.
With the large amount of rain that has falling in 2018, storm water management has become a topic of concern for some homeowners: this is the type of water we don’t love so much. The Ministry of Transportation manages roadside ditches and culverts, but only to redirect water that falls on their roads. Water that creates seasonal streams and run off from higher elevations is currently not actively managed. This results in unmanned culverts, road flooding, flooding of dwellings and flooding of swampy low lying land. Storm water is usually manged by a municipality, but since Area B is not incorporated, in my opinion we need to address some of these issues. I would be interested in hearing from the community on this specifically.
Many groups share the responsibility for water protection in Shawnigan. Currently there are a few groups working on protecting areas of the watershed but not a single group bringing them all together. In early February, I met with Bruce Fraser, the President of the Shawnigan Basin Society (SBS), to discuss the Societies priorities for 2018. He felt the direction of society and its use of community funds were uncertain, but would be decided by a new board after the SBS AGM in early March. Concurrently, I have started quarterly meetings to bring together the SRG, SBS and the Shawnigan Residence Association (SRA) to discuss a Unified Watershed Management approach. So far the group has met once (in December) and will continue to meet quarterly to address ways to partner and leverage community funds. Clearly a unified approach is needed and perhaps we can learn from the model presented by the Cowichan Watershed Board.
I am interested in increasing our level of long term planning and hope a unified approach can get us there. I also believe our long term planning should include land acquisition strictly for watershed protection, not just parks. That said, I would be interested in how the community feels about this and if we are willing to invest. This year there are many initiatives in the works, but in the meantime the communities opinion on a long term vision would be very valuable. Let's chat over coffee or at the monthly director's meeting.
Over the past year the CVRD has been reaching out to communities across the Cowichan Valley to gather input on managing our most valuable asset; Water. As a region, there are many things to understand and take into consideration as the CVRD strives to balance development and the preservation of ecological systems. The Regional Water Management Strategy is large and complex initiative that will benefit greatly from lots of public input. If you have not yet had a chance to give your feedback, please visit www.placespeak.com/en/topic/5204-drinking-water-watershed-protection-service/
As most of the community has noticed, there are still large numbers of trucks coming up the Malahat to dump fill in areas such as Goldstream Heights, Cougar Ridge and Stebbings Road. The CVRD is still waiting for approval of our Soil Bylaw and the Province has let us know that they are trying to expedite the process because of the urgency of our issue. Soil dump sites are a major contributor to soil and nutrient runoff into our streams and lakes, which compromise the health of our water systems. At the CVRD, I have requested information regarding an increase in bylaw enforcement so that we are ready to deal with this issue and to properly enforce the new bylaw. Protecting our lake and our community inspires me everyday...Love it, Share it, Protect it.
Directors Report- Sierra Acton AREA B Shawnigan Lake
With the approach of spring, Shawnigan is going through a bit of a rejuvenation; the community is taking a fresh look at how we can partner with the Areas around us (A, C & D) to improve things here in Area B.
Once a month for the past few months we have gathered with the Shawnigan Village business community and discuss our successes, our needs and our vision. Working with Economic Cowichan Manager, Amy Melmock, some great ideas are emerging. For example, we are hoping to showcase our community’s assets at a forum that would highlight community contributors, including everyone from the Shawnigan Lake Museum to the multitude of home-based businesses.
Another way we can collaborate is around signage, specifically the signs on/from the highway. It would be beneficial to highlight each Area as distinct but with a consistent look. This could be easily accomplished with the proper funding and with support from the Province. The advice from Economic Cowichan on the matter would be for Areas A, B, C and D to work together as a “Subregion.” Working together, the Subregion would be more likely to get the necessary grant funding and we would also be more likely to get approval from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to have permission to install the signs.
All four Areas (A, B, C and D) are distinct but when we share our communities concerns and goals they are very similar. We all want safer roads/walking trails and thriving village cores, while protecting the integrity of our local environment. We all want our areas to be free from uncontrolled soil dumping, illegal garbage dumping and unsightly premises. I am still learning a lot about the CVRD and the role an Area Director plays since winning the by-election in September, but it is becoming apparent that when it comes to community specific goals, the electoral areas are at a disadvantage at the board table (versus incorporated areas.) Essentially we all pay into a system that makes it very hard to obtain community specific goals. However, it is clear that the more our local Areas work together the more we will accomplish. I look forward to exploring ways that Area B can work together with Areas A, C and D to improve things in all four Areas and reach our individual community’s goals while continuing to remaining distinct.