Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association
An open letter to;
CRD SGI Director, Dave Howe,
CRD Integrated Water Services GM, Ted Robbins
November 7, 2014
On November 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm I attended a SGI Harbours Commission meeting in Saanich. CRD Integrated Water Services General Manager Ted Robbins reported that the CRD was reviewing the financial status of the SGIHC and their financial reporting going back to 2008-2009.
MIRRA has several comments at this time.
First a review;
- In a 2009 public meeting on Mayne Island, our community was told by past CRD Director Hancock and past Commissioner Cropper, that our dock at Miners Bay was being downgraded to non drive on status due to its deteriorated condition. They stated there was no money in the SGIHC to do repairs. We were told we would have to pay more tax or find funds elsewhere. Minutes from that meeting are publicly available. The dock has since deteriorated horribly.
- In 2008, the SGIHC commissioned an Engineers report on the Miners Bay dock, which recommends $280,000 repair expenditures over 5 years. The work was not done due to the expressed lack of funds.
- In 2009, the SGIHC had a 5 year dock replacement plan. We see no start date, indefinable cost assessment, no factual support of sustainability of this plan. Engineer Tuttle’s report, referenced above, clearly shows proper maintenance of the CRD docks is is a better plan than planning for full replacement. Indicated to be more effective, more economical, more sustainable and provide better marine service to communities.
- During this 2008/09-2013 period our parcel taxes increased from $25.87 in 2008 per parcel to $44.65 in 2013.
November 4 meeting;
Ted Robbins stated that,
- -in 2009, the SGIHC had in reserve app. $611,000.
- -in 2008/09 surpluses were $329,308. In 2009 nearing $1,000,000 was available.
- -tax surpluses continued through 2013 accruing $786,621.00 to a total of app. $1,400,000 in 2014.
- -currently $1,400,000 (rounded) is in a reserve account.
- -money is not a problem (to implementing proper repair and maintenance programs).
Ted Robbins commented for this report;
“Moving forward, at its November 4, 2014 meeting, the SGI Harbours Commission directed CRD staff to recast the 2015 SGI Harbours service budget to more accurately reflect annual operating expenses, planned transfers to the capital reserve fund, capital expenditures, and revenues. In addition, a full engineering review of all of the SGI Harbours service dock facilities will be undertaken by the CRD in 2015 that, along with input from the local communities through the Commission, will inform the long term capital priorities and funding requirements. The recast budget will recommend that the 2015 parcel tax will remain the same as 2014 – this time next year, the Commission will reconsider the need to adjust the parcel tax rate for the 2016 budget, once the long term capital funding requirements and priorities are known, and a decision can be made as to the sustainability of the existing capital reserve fund.”
MIRRA members have been working with CRD Director Howe and IWS GM, Ted Robbins to accomplish this review of the SGIHC during the past two years. Many changes to the basic operations of the SGIHC have been accomplished, regaining a direct community involvement in the CRD docks. Ted Robbins has introduced a professional level of financial transparency, controls and management and is now working with a newly structured Board of Commissioners. Two new appointments, Dave Hargreaves, Search and Rescue, Pender Island and Carl Bunnin, President, Association of Mayne Island Boaters, Mayne Island, have just been concluded.
Carl Bunnin comments;
“ During the Commission meeting of Nov.4, guidelines were tabled which will strengthen the Commissioners ability to act as an effective voice for our local communities.”
In summary, many improvements have been instituted in the operations of the Southern Gulf Islands Harbours Commission. The appointment of Ted Robbins has placed the responsibility for financial reporting and accountability under the auspices CRD. The New Board of Commissioners has had a great start initiating projects and future planning.
For example, the Board has:
- Approved a program for safety improvements at the Port Browning dock, lighting.
- Approved a full review of the SGI dock facilities by CRD Engineers
- Approved a recommendation that CRD be responsible for Engineering and operations of the SGIHC
- Approved a re-casting of the 2015 budget to better reflect tax requisition requirements and inform on long term requirements and sustainability strategy.
MIRRA is pleased with the success and accomplishments of all who have worked so hard over the past years to let the voices of the communities be heard. Many people have helped in many ways to get our Harbours Commission back on track providing quality marine facilities to our communities. A special thanks goes to our CRD Director Howe, CRD, Integrated Water Services GM, Ted Robbins and our new Board of Commissioners who have a lot of good work ahead of them.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, MIRRA,