Category: 2014-2015 Priorities

On September 4, 2014 the Comox Valley Regional District, with assistance from the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, hosted a workshop to discuss challenges in dealing with solid waste on Vancouver Island in a cost-effective manner.

The Consultants Report and Powerpoint presentations from the workshop are available on the Comox Valley Regional District’s website.

October 30, 2014, AVICC Executive welcomed Comox Valley Regional District Chair Edwin Grieve, Vice-Chair Jon Ambler and CAO Debra Oakman to its regular meeting to discuss the findings of the workshop.  Executive endorsed a motion for AVICC staff to request the assistance of staff from Comox Valley Regional District to identify a steering committee and develop a process or plan to facilitate AVICC regional districts and the Province to work together to develop a collaborative long-term solution for solid waste on Vancouver Island.

 

 

 

 

In follow-up to the July 3 and October 20 meetings that have been held with local government and other stakeholders on this topic, at the October 30, 2014 Executive meeting, the following action plan was endorsed:

That AVICC staff support UBCM Victoria Operations General Manager Glen Brown to create a smaller stakeholder group with staff representatives from VIHA, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Resource Operations, UBCM, AVICC, Private Forest Landowners Association and Private Forest Land Council to develop a terms of reference for a working stakeholder group that could be pulled together as needed to address local or regional concerns;

AVICC Executive encourages regional districts to contact the Managed Forest Council to discuss offering an information session in your region for the information of local government staff and elected officials; and

That Private Forest Land Council be invited to submit a presentation proposal for the 2015 AVICC Convention.

Attached is the  October 23, 2014 Provincial News Release on the proposed changes to legislation to repeal Section 7(5) of the Vancouver Island Natural Gas Pipeline Act in order to permit collection of operating fees within the AVICC region.

AVICC is very pleased to advise that all 26 of our municipal members, who are served by gas, have approved the model natural gas operating agreement that will authorize the collection of a 3% operating fee beginning in March 2015.  The immediate response to AVICC’s request for action is appreciated.  Thank you to Paul Murray, CAO of Saanich and Jerry Berry, Consultant with FortisBC and the municipal staff who have worked diligently to get these agreements in place.

The paperwork is now being processed through FortisBC to prepare an application to BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to approve the agreements. By having all 26 agreements signed, AVICC can present a unified position to the BCUC.

Two meetings on this topic have been held, both in Nanaimo.

The first was held on July 3, 2014 with Councillor Solda and Director Marcotte in attendance on behalf of AVICC.

The second was held on October 20, 2014 with Councillor Solda, Director Marcotte, Councillor Price and Chair Stanhope in attendance on behalf of AVICC. Other local government representatives included: Mayor Baird and Sundance Topham from Cumberland; Campbell River’s Water Supervisor, Nathalie Vaiu; Comox’s Senior Manager of Engineering Mark Rutten, and Nanaimo RD’s CAO Paul Thorkelson.

Representatives from other organizations to both meeting included Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Private Forest Land Council of BC, Private Forest Landowner’s Association, TimberWest and Island Timberlands.

A Ministry of Environment representative attended the first meeting and three representatives from Vancouver Island Health Authority attended the second.

The agenda for both meetings included a roundtable discussion where representatives’ roles and responsibilities related to water protection were highlighted and included the nature and scope of the issues they would like to have addressed.

The proposed action plan going forward is two fold. The first is to create a smaller stakeholder group with staff representatives from VIHA, FLNRO, UBCM, AVICC, PFLA and PFLC to develop a terms of reference for a working stakeholder group that would be pulled together as needed to address local or regional concerns. The model would resemble the Regional Drinking Water Teams that worked effectively in the past. The intention would be that it would be able to address issues through the regular day-to-day responsibilities of the stakeholders involved.

The second is to address the need for education and awareness on the protections that are in place and the avenues open for addressing issues arising. The Private Forest Land Council is prepared to respond to this issue and they are in process of developing an updated communications strategy and PowerPoint presentation that is modern and more reflective of the work they do (interactive) which should be ready before year-end.

The Boatswains to the Bollards: A Socioeconomic Impact Analysis of BC Ferries Report prepared on behalf of AVICC and UBCM by Larose Research and Strategy was considered at the 2014 UBCM Convention.

The following recommendations of the policy paper were endorsed unanimously by the UBCM membership:

That the UBCM membership endorse the following actions:

  • Request that the Province reverse its November 2013 decision, and restore service levels and ferry fares to 2013 levels.
  • Request that the Province take a ‘pause’ or ‘time out’ to consider the results of this SEIA and commit to undertaking further socioeconomic impact analysis that will build on these findings.
  • Request that the Province take action to recognize the coastal ferry system as an extension of the highway system and administer and fund it accordingly.

Request that the Province work cooperatively with coastal communities and other interested parties on the development and implementation of a long-term strategy for the coastal ferry system, based on solid socioeconomic impact analysis, that will ensure the sustainability of coastal communities and the ferry service.

Members of the RD Chairs group met with the Premier and Minister Stone during UBCM Convention with the agreement that they would meet again in November.

 

 

Past President Chair Stanhope updated delegates to the AVICC Luncheon held during the 2014 UBCM Convention on the status of the Natural Gas Operating Agreement file.

Following are the speaking notes from that presentation:

I have some important information to deliver with respect to the Fortis BC Operating Agreements and the collection of operating fees by municipalities.

The last several years now we have stood before the AVICC convention and talked about the following:

  1. Negotiations with Fortis BC to establish a Made-in-AVICC Operating Agreement between the gas company and many AVICC municipalities. This is complete.
  2. Fortis BC’s application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission to apply for a common rate for specified natural gas customers in a given rate class throughout BC. This has occurred, and phased implementation is about to begin in 2015.
  3. AVICC has been seeking a change to the Vancouver Island Natural Gas Pipeline Act to permit the collection of operating fees within AVICC. AVICC representatives are meeting with the Premier and the relevant Ministers again tomorrow, and we are pleased to say that introduction of this legislation is imminent.

 

Consequently, I am very pleased to be able to say today, that after much hard work by numerous people, we are poised to see the end of this historic inequity after more than 25 years. Shortly we expect municipalities on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast will return to the same footing as those in the interior of BC.

This means In the order of $3.5 Million in new revenues to be received collectively / per annum within AVICC to offset costs for municipal taxpayers’ associated with the placement of gas lines in municipal roads.

 Now, as the final step to reaching our goal, we need political action and your leadership.

 Time is now of the essence to adopt agreements, if Councils wish to access the available new funding source. Councils in municipalities served by gas will be asked to process and endorse the AVICC recommended model agreement by the end of October, 2014 in order to take advantage of the anticipated legislation, and to authorize the collection of the 3% fee beginning in March 2015.

 AVICC is preparing a standard report format to assist your staff in bringing this matter before you and the report will be available, along with our partners in FORTIS, to respond to any questions you may have. Representatives are meeting with the CAOs tonight to discuss implementation details for your municipality.

We hope we will have the maximum number of agreements in place by November, in order that AVICC can present a unified front to the BCUC.

We are almost there.  With your help, we can shortly say that we have completed the strategic task we set out to accomplish.

I want to say thank you to the City of Nanaimo, in particular, who lead the staff technical working group; to Paul Murray and the District of Saanich who have lead the staff policy group; to Gord Schoberg and Carol Greaves of FORTIS, and to Jerry Berry who have worked with us throughout and whom have helped us “stick handle” this matter through the Province and through FORTIS itself.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Premier Clark, Minister Coleman, Minister Bennett and Michelle Stillwell for supporting introduction of the corrective legislation.

In follow-up to the AVICC Policy Paper#1: Report on Socio-Economic Impacts of BC Ferries Service Reductions – April, 2014 which was endorsed April 12, 2014 at the AVICC Convention April 12, 2014 in Qualicum Beach, a follow-up study and policy paper is being considered at the 2014 UBCM Convention.

Download a copy of UBCM Policy Paper #1:  Boatswains to the Bollards:  A Socioeconomic Impact Analysis of BC Ferries (PDF).

See the September 10, 2014  UBCM Compass article which preceded the distribution of the Policy Paper to members and highlights the key findings.

 

 

The Special Committee on BC Ferries was established February 7, 2014 as a result of a desire by both AVICC and UBCM to respond to the direction taken by the Province with respect to BC Ferries.

Policy Paper #1:  Report on Socio-Economic Impacts of BC Ferries Service Reductions, April 2014 was prepared for the Special Committee.  It was submitted for consideration by AVICC delegates April 12, 2014 at the 2014 AVICC Convention in Qualicum Beach.

Download the endorsed Policy Paper #1:  Report on Socio-Economic Impacts of BC Ferries Service Reductions, April 2014 (PDF).

Paul Murray, Administrative Officer with District of Saanich and Chair of the AVICC CAO Natural Gas Working Group and Jerry Berry, FortisBC’s Consultant provided an update to AVICC Executive on September 10, 2014 which included the following key points:

  • Word has been received that during the fall legislative session the provincial government is expecting to consider revisions to the legislation to facilitate eligible AVICC local governments to be able to begin receiving operating fees. The consultant noted that as a separate issue from the coordinated work undertaken over the years between AVICC and FortisBC, the status quo for five major island industrials is being maintained by including a regulation exempting the five major industrials on the island from paying operating fees leaving an inequity within this group as industrials elsewhere in the province will continue to pay operating fees.
  • The schedule of reductions in gas rates was highlighted noting that the 20-25% rate reduction would be phased in over 3-4 years with the first one of 7% being effective January 1, 2015.
  • The first opportunity to apply operating fees would be March 1, 2015.
  • There has been one minor change to the operating agreement template that was distributed previously. A template staff report, policy paper and the template operating agreement will be forwarded to the 20 affected local governments in October encouraging local governments not to delay in getting them signed so that they are in position to implement operating fees as soon as all the pieces are in place.

The Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) is currently working with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO), the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Private Managed Forest Lands Council (PMFLC) to address a number of challenges and concerns regarding watershed protection on privately managed forest lands.

A meeting was held on July 3, 2014 with senior staff from FLNRO, MOE, PMFLC, Timberwest, Island Timberlands, and AVICC executive to discuss watershed protection issues. The meeting provided the opportunity for all stakeholders to openly identify concerns and provide input. The discussion was productive, and there was agreement to continue, with a follow-up meeting to be scheduled in early September 2014.

AVICC’s focus moving forward includes exploring opportunities to educate and build awareness regarding; private managed forest land impacts on watersheds, the Private Managed Forest Land Act , and how it is implemented/enforced in British Columbia. There is interest and value in looking at the differences and similarities of how forests are managed on crown versus private land.

Another focus for AVICC is to improve communication and collaboration between stakeholders. An opportunity exists to re-establish a ‘stakeholder group’ that has met regularly to discuss regional and local issues focused on watershed health and protection. Under the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in BC, regional drinking water teams were established to address regional and local drinking water issues. While these groups have been less active in recent years, there is the opportunity to re-establish and re-focus these groups to address current regional drinking water and watershed issues.

The desired outcome is to have effective collaboration and communication that includes decision making involving input from key stakeholders, including local governments.