Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association
Annual General Meeting
Saturday December 12, 2015 – 1:00PM
Mayne Island Community Centre
493 Felix Jack Road
Memberships / renewals $10.00 – available at the door
Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association
Annual General Meeting
Saturday December 12, 2015 – 1:00PM
Mayne Island Community Centre
493 Felix Jack Road
Memberships / renewals $10.00 – available at the door
Dear Members and Candidates,
As a follow up to our invitation to the All Candidates Meeting Sunday October 26 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm,
I am pleased to provide the following information:
All seven Candidates will be given 3 minutes each to introduce themselves (Order will be by draw).
The meeting will then be opened to questions from the floor.
We will provide question forms for the audience to ask questions for a category of Trustees, Director
or School Board.
The question sequence will be determined by a draw. Candidates have 1 minute for their answers.
The form will be handed to and the question will be asked by the individual that submitted the question.
All questions will be directed to respective candidates (for Trustee, Director or School Board) and each
candidate will be given 1 minute to respond.
Questions to be brief and precise and must deal with specific Policy, Issues or Procedure, Not Individuals.
If a question is deemed inappropriate it will be disallowed
Each candidate will be given 3 minutes for closing comments (Order will be reverse of introductions).
Agricultural Hall, 530 Fernhill Road (Miners Bay Village)
Sunday October 26th
Time: 1 – 3pm
Moderator: Jon Hoff
Candidates: There will be space inside for candidate information brochures, etc. You are welcome to greet people outside of the door prior to the meeting or have a representative hand out brochures. The meeting will end
approximately at 3:00 – please be prepared to extend your schedule if the meeting runs long or voters want to chat with you after the meeting.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need further details.
Below are some emails that have been circulating on island, these are the views of individuals and are presented for information:
Dear Mayne Islander:
We face a decision about a new Fire Hall. Permission is being sought to spend $2.4 million to build a much-enlarged facility. Is this the right goal related to firefighting on Mayne Island? Last week, friends of mine received bad news from their insurance company. Their policy for one of their properties rose by about $2,400 a year because they were only “semi-protected” from fire by existing, apparently inadequate, water facilities. Not only that, but the insurance company immediately increased the premiums for their other properties. Their total hit will exceed $5,000 per year! The immediate cause of this situation was a response of our Fire Chief to an enquiry by their insurance company. That response puts all Mayne Island property owners at risk for significant increases in their insurance premiums. It will soon be common knowledge among insurance companies that Mayne Island properties lack appropriate firefighting capabilities and, consequently, all of our premiums will increase!
There are opportunities to vote on the matter of the Fire Hall on Wednesday April 9, Saturday April 11 and Saturday April 19th. Please consider this matter and vote
Monument or Solutions?
It’s not unusual for us to address the wrong problems. It’s often easier to do something, anything, rather than to do what’s really needed. We face a decision about a new Fire Hall. Permission is being sought to spend $2.4 million to build a much-enlarged facility. Is this the right goal related to firefighting on Mayne Island?
Last week, friends of mine received bad news from their insurance company. Their policy for one of their properties rose by about $2,400 a year because they were only “semi-protected” from fire by existing, apparently inadequate, water facilities. Not only that, but the insurance company immediately increased the premiums for their other properties. Their total hit will exceed $5,000 per year.
What do you mean, “existing, apparently inadequate, water facilities”? Well, there’s a bit of the story there. My friends’ insurance company emailed our Fire Chief asking him to indicate the level of fire protection on a property connected to the Village Point Improvement District facilities and has a ‘standpipe’ – so there is water. The Fire Chief Responded as follows:
· “The fire hydrant you refer to is not a “Fire Hydrant” – it is a flush point used by the water district and they have generously fitting (sic) it with a fire department threaded connection for general use only. It does not meet any NFPA requirements for fire hydrant protection…”
· Although the access is difficult for our large fire trucks (emphasis added) I am confident we can gain access to both homes either directly or with longer hose lays.”
You can imagine that this was not the kind of response the owners expected. The letter indicates a challenge with regard to adequate water supply, which the insurance company requires being within 300 meters of a building. It also indicates a challenge in reaching the property with specific equipment and implies that some of our fire equipment may not be appropriate for the Mayne landscape. An independent insurance professional confirmed that those challenges are major issues for insurance companies. They are risk averse and try to protect themselves.
The point of this letter is that the Fire Chief’s response to the insurance company puts all Mayne Island property owners at risk for significant increases in their insurance premiums.
If you don’t believe that this is a real problem, note that this property owner was immediately affected related to other properties. It will soon be common knowledge among insurance companies that Mayne Island properties lack appropriate firefighting capabilities and, consequently, all of our premiums will increase! Mine certainly will because I deal with the same companies.
We all need to ask ourselves if the expenditure of funds on a building, the new Fire Hall, is the appropriate expenditure. Is this not just a house for equipment that ignores “existing, apparently inadequate, water facilities”? In simple terms, is this where we should spend our hard-earned money? Note also that the Fire Hall will cost my friends an additional over $900 per year.
I am also concerned about leadership with respect to firefighting. The previous proposal was DOA due to a financial mistake. Now we have another proposal other islands have been able to address less expensively. Add to that the letter that went to the insurance company. It’s understandable to wonder if leadership is an issue.
As you vote on the new Fire Hall proposal, please consider if this is the best use of funds. Should we construct expensive facilities that house pretty equipment, or should we deal with the significant problem of addressing firefighting on Mayne Island. Do we want a monument? Or do we want solutions?
Thank you for your communication. There are other things wrong with the new suggestions. For instance, the very large social areas shown within the floor plan are unnecessary for the safety of the island. The crew should not ask taxpayers to fund another area as dependance of the community halls already in place.
Then the distribution via value of properties rather then via a parcel tax is not an equal distribution connecting with safety but rather putting the burden of payments to “wealthier properties”, this is unacceptable. Financing as well is not prudent at all. Why should we carry the burden for almost 5% interest payments when the markets offer below 2.9%. We do not need a fixed period of 20 years, this is quite ridiculous. As proven for decades, variable is the better and cheaper solution for years to come.
Overall, the whole plan and the process, again, is unfair, much too high flying and unacceptable to be financed by the population in the way it has been proposed. I must be cut down substantially, be a genuine firehall instead of a social hum, be sensibly planed for open process bidding on all detail costs, which has not been shown with the current proposal. Distribution must be equal to all residents, i.e. via parcel tax.
ARBUTUS BAY ESTATES
Paula M. Buchholz
LETTER FROM COMMUNITY MEMBER
To The Mayne Island Ratepayers
I’m sorry to have to write this letter. I thought for once the people of Mayne Island could work together to accomplish a task that is 20 years overdue in a manner that could make us all as proud of our community as we are of the hard work of Mayne Island Fire Rescue. I know how much effort MIFR puts in because I have been with them for 35 years. Conservatively I estimate it has cost me $75,000 of income . In the last year many of us have given in excess of 500 unpaid hours of our time in training so we can meet the same standard as city departments, a certification requirement.
How can you so easily brush aside the work of yet another board that ourcommunity elected and suggest that they are such fools.
We live on an island, unlike other fire departments on the mainland where other trucks are on their way in the event of a major fire we are on our own. If we do not knock down a fire in the first 10 minutes we are likely to use another tanker full of water in the next 10. In the heat of summer our present 3 tankers have saved Mayne twice in the last 2 years from disaster. We have agreements with Pender Fire Rescue and other Departments on other islands for mutual assistance when necessary, but without a water supply they become useless. We have all experienced how dry Mayne becomes in the summer, we must react quickly with appropriate equipment.
Our Trucks must be ready to be deployed , not frozen in winter.
As for the anonymous Mayne Island Rate Payers ,they have only one issue. They represent a group of large landowners who would have us not use an assessment based model( the one used for all property taxes), so we can pay more and they can pay less!
When the last referendum was defeated and the work of Paddy Lambert , Jim Marlon Lambert and many other hard working islanders, men and women whom I respect greatly for their efforts to make sure we are protected , I was hurt. The new board has done their work and has brought you a proposal to build a basic structure to ensure our investment in equipment is protected and ready to be deployed in the event of an emergency.
Let’s now do something we can be proud of and support everyone’s hard work. It feels good to do the right thing. So vote YES
MAYNE ISLAND RESIDENTS AND RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION
April 8, 2014
Dear Mr. Not anonymous,
Again we only respond because you have commented about the position of MIRRA and the work that we do for the community.
In response to your letter berating Mr. Covvey, MIRRA and its members, we suggest we stick to the topic and that is the firehall. You have questioned MIRRA’s commitment to good fire protection on Mayne Island when that is in no way relevant to this discussion or referendum. This referendum is not about support for the fire fighters, it is a fiscal and taxation matter about the construction of a new firehall. A significant amount of tax money is collected every year from this community for the Fire Department. In fact our Fire Department costs are higher per capita than the Penders, Galiano, and Saltspring Island. The Fire Department here is well funded and we feel it is disrespectful and inaccurate to slam the taxpayers claiming that it is underfunded and are left out in the cold.
This community holds our firefighters in very high regard and supports and appreciates the efforts of all those who serve the Island. On top of taxes, donations for new equipment, firefighters fundraisers and other support, has seen substantial community participation. MIRRA members and Directors have contributed generously.
Conversely you seem to have no appreciation for what the community does for the firefighters. You also do not indicate a respect for fiscal efforts to spend additional tax money a little more wisely, in the best interests of all members of this community, including the firefighters.
As far as a parcel tax, it was widely supported in the community after the last failed referendum and is still. This referendum is to build a community asset. It is not for a service which has some relation to property size and extent of buildings. Everyone shares a parcel tax equally.
Your statement reflecting on the financial status of individuals as compared to the size of their properties has no merit. There are many people in our community who have had their large lands for more than one generation and already find it difficult to pay all of the associated taxes.
There are also very well to do individuals who own non conforming, noninspected properties which they rent out. Those properties would represent the greatest risk of a house fire and yet would pay the least in an assessment tax.
So what is fair? A reasonable tax at about $100, and a closer examination of how our tax money is spent building new infrastructure? Comparing proposed costs and procedures to firehalls recently built in other areas? Is this unreasonable? How about community involvement in the planning process? A couple of Town Hall meetings perhaps so these views could have been presented during the planning process? Is that unreasonable?
The points raised here by community members are valid and free for all to participate. As we have stated, the anonymous status of the commentary is to allow folks the freedom to express their views without fear of reprisals and unwarranted attacks.
This is a democratic process and everyone who wishes is entitled to have their say.
On behalf of the Board, MIRRA
A Rational Approach
In response to many questions from community members, Mayne Island Residents & Ratepayers Association has compiled the following alternate proposal for a new firehall for your consideration. MIRRA is in no way competing with MIID on this project but taking a different approach in presenting an alternate model for public consideration.
MIID has done the hard work of creating a basic costing, siting and planning from which we can now easily extrapolate the numbers and apply them to an alternate plan of construction.
This alternative proposal incorporates suggestions from the community and consultants which go all the way from current, back to the previous referendum and that have been applied to other districts’ new firehalls.
This alternative proposal is not intended to be exact but accurate within a reasonable estimate.
MIRRA hopes you will find this comparison between the two strategies interesting and informative.
1) Site Preparation- $224,750
2) Temporary facilities, Moving and Storage costs, Interest, Insurance, Permits, Legal- $256,250
3) Total- $481,000
4) Building design, management & construction- $1,596,372
5) Contingency- $316,161 (20% of building costs)
6) Total- $2,393,533
1) Building- $998,932
2) Contingency- $199,786
3) Upgrade and renovate existing building- $250,000
4) Buy new land, site prep, insurance etc.- $168,300
5) Total costs for new firehall- $1,617,018
Alternative Proposal details:
Including the cost of buying 1 acre of the westerly property, upgrading, re-cladding and renovating the old firehall up to a safety standard including new administration offices, still reduces site preparation, demolition etc. costs a total- $62,700.00
As a bonus we keep the existing water tanks and all infrastructure, and leave the school house where it is.
Upgrading, re-cladding and renovating the existing building eliminates the need for 3,167 square feet of administrative area in the new building. This space would be accommodated in the upgraded and renovated existing building. This eliminates $506,720 in construction, design, and management costs of the new hall @ $160/sq.ft. and eliminates the need for 1,134 square feet of mezzanine area @ about $80/sq. ft. – $90,720
Building costs savings- $597,440.00
Engineering estimated costs to bring old building to standard- $100,000
Estimated costs to close in old truck bays and convert to office space and community space, re-clad the exterior- $150,000
Contingency on proposed Alternative Building $ 199,786 @ 20% of building cost total contingency savings- $116,374
Alternative Proposal total savings estimate:
Total Savings- $776,514
Alternate Proposal loan interest savings over 20 years;
Interest Savings estimate- $300,000
MIRRA presents here a comparison for the new building if different choices and priorities are given more consideration.
More savings which can also be gained, for example:
1) Building a conventional 4 bay structure allows for simple and easy future expansion, if that is even ever required. The Alternative Proposal is based upon the current MIID 6 bay drive thru model because those are MIID numbers to which a comparison can be made.
2) Parcel tax instead of an assessment saves taxpayers the quoted $8,000 per year in Government collection charges and utilizes more beneficially the $40,000 software program bought in 2013, for the Heath Centre tax collection. The firehall would just be a simple line item addition to that collection.
3) A fixed-price quote as opposed to the current cost-plus estimate should eliminate the requirement of a 20% contingency, which in almost all cases will be fully consumed. In a fixed-price quote, any cost over runs are the problem of the contractor.
4) A drive thru garage is not critical. In cities where land is in short supply and halls are built on lots, trucks back into the hall from the street. In our circumstance, most of the time, the rear truck will remain in the hall on a call out, therefore, when the truck returns, it will be backing in anyway. Why use up all of our land creating ring around roads for an unnecessary drive through design? Why go to the considerable extra expense of a drive thru?
Certain cost items may have been overlooked in this proposal, as are also potentially more savings.
However, the projected savings of over $3/4 million are sufficient to warrant a serious look at the current MIID proposal.
The Alternative Proposal outlined here is not from MIRRA alone but also follows some of the recommendations of the Consultant hired by MIID in 2011. As well it utilizes methods implemented in new firehall construction projects in areas such as North Saanich, Port Coquitlam, East Sooke, and Saturna Island etc.
This Alternative Proposal might have been implemented had the MIID held the requested public meetings during their planning process. The following positive points are readily obvious:
Finally, this project can go to referendum this summer and commence work at any time and we don’t waste money relocating the fire department during construction.
Please forward this information to anyone you know who may be interested, and check for updates on the MIRRA website: www.maynebc.com
There has been a great deal said about costs and affordability at each step in the fire hall replacement process. Each time taxpayers were told that the proposal was the ‘bare bones’ and could not be any cheaper, as well the statement was always made that costs were going up and we need to build now before it gets more expensive. Those who have tracked this issue will recall the first proposal was $6.3 million, the first referendum was for $4.2 million, the second referendum was for $3.4 million, and the most recent is for $2.4 million.
We question whether the numbers would not be lower if the existing proposal was not to build on the footprint of the current building. The 2011 consultants report clearly identified that saving the existing assets alone would result in significant savings, not having to rent temporary structures to house the fire department also would result in substantial savings. The consultants recommendations are covered in the ‘Cherry Picking’ article on the MIRRA website.
The owners of the adjoining property have repeatedly expressed an interest in selling property to the Improvement District. The Islands Trust executive have already waived all fees associated with the subdivision and rezoning of the property and would do so in an expedited manner.
In our research we have yet to find an example locally where an existing fire hall has been demolished to make way for a new hall. Almost every community repurposes the old building after the new hall is built. Once the large vehicle openings are removed, upgrading an old hall to a suitable safe standard is not complex and the community’s asset lives on in a new role. We suggest that we follow the model of North Saanich and repurpose the vehicle bays for offices and meeting space for the Improvement District, resulting in an overall reduction of size in the new building and the resulting savings.
In an effort to give an ‘apples to apples’ comparision, here are some local examples of what other communities have done recently:
Many extra hall amenities
North Galiano Island
7 bays (Two buildings on separate sites)
Old hall sold to private interests
Included land acquisition and many extras
Many extra amenities including training tower
While each community has individual needs and construction costs vary depending on amenities and facility requirements, we feel confident that a better, more economical proposal can be put forward using the adjacent property that has been offered to the community by the owners. One substantial ancillary benefit would be the overall savings in the rehabilitation of the old schoolhouse by the firefighters association using donated funds. Being able to retain it on its existing site will save many dollars and volunteer hours. We also would save the existing in ground and elevated water tanks, which are valuable community assets.
These are just a few examples which show clearly that retaining the old building and acquiring new property where available are cost saving measures utilized by districts everywhere to reduce costs and additionally gaining the best benefit for taxpayers by preserving and re-purposing where possible their old community assets. MIRRA is not supporting ideas and suggestions that are nebulous wishful thinking. These are real life, cost saving, frugal easily implemented solutions which are widely implemented and which need not necessarily delay the construction program.
These are all issues which the public asked the MIID Trustees to pursue after the last failed referendum. It seems from the responses we have received, that their efforts on these have been lacking.
We appreciate that the Improvement District has looked at and rejected building on another site, but we believe they did this with haste – not taking into account the overall economic benefits and without thorough consultation of construction or engineering professionals who perhaps would have guided them in another direction. As proposed the fire hall is being developed site wise in the most expensive method possible. There are alternatives, the community has voiced its support for those alternatives for many years now, yet the Trustees seem to offer absolutely no flexibility and consistently put forward the most expensive proposals.
If you took the existing proposed building and purchased new land anywhere on the island hundreds of thousands of dollars would be saved, in addition hundreds of thousands of dollars of community assets would be saved – why is it we are being told the only suitable location for a fire hall on our island is the exact footprint of the existing building?
We suggest it’s time to think outside of the box.
At the March 15, 2014 public meeting, in response to MIRRA questioning the need for a six bay fire hall, the statement was made that a six bay fire hall was being proposed specifically as it was the primary recommendation of the consultant that was hired on 2011 to review the fire department and its operations.
What was not stated was the consultant at that time recommended MIID have six pieces of apparatus (Vehicles) for operations. In July 2013, the Fire Chief stated that an operational review determined only four pieces of apparatus were required for operations.
There was also indifference to MIIRA’s position that the existing fire hall not be demolished and the new hall should be built on adjacent lands.
In commenting on the previous (2011) proposed hall (referred to as the ‘class B plan’), the consultant had the following to say:
“The Class B plan did have a satisfactory site plan but it also added considerably to the overall project cost. There is a lot of infrastructure on the present site that must be taken into consideration when planning for a new fire hall. Considerable money has been spent on an emergency standby generator, owned and operated by the MIID that is located to the North of the existing fire hall toward the ambulance station. There is also an underground water tank directly in front of the fire hall located under the concrete apron. To the rear of the fire hall there is an old wood structure that was built as a hose drying and training tower. To the West of that is a concrete bulkhead that supports an elevated water tank. There is also an above ground water tank directly behind the fire hall rear stairs that catches rain water and an above ground water tank farm located behind the old hose tower structure. With the exception of the large concrete bulkhead which would take some money and effort to relocate, these tanks could be relocated to another location on the site as required.”
“A complicating factor is also the old schoolhouse building that is situated approximately 20 feet to the southeast corner of the existing fire hall. It will have to be moved regardless of what type of fire hall is built over the existing fire hall footprint.”
“The site plan in the Class B design made good use of the site but it would necessitate the relocation of the old schoolhouse building and other infrastructure, which would have added significantly to the overall project cost.”
“MIID should consider acquiring 1 acre of land to the west of the property they currently own. Buying more land for a new fire hall may require re-zoning which could delay the construction of a new fire hall. If it is not possible to acquire land adjacent to the west, another fire hall location could be considered. They should also consider building a new 6 bay drive through fire hall on the newly acquired land. This would allow the existing building to be used until a new building is built and ready to occupy. This would save the district money because all of the existing infrastructure could remain as is. The old school house could remain in its current position as could the tank farm, the elevated tank and hose tower.”
His actual recommendations were:
MIID should consider purchasing 1 acre of land adjacent to their property to construct a new 6 bay fire hall or another suitable site for a new fire hall.
Since a new fire hall is a priority and since cost is a factor, a new fire hall should be separated from as much of the site re-development as possible.
Now that was not exactly what was said at the meeting, was it…..
The full consultants report can be viewed here:
Specifically pages 20 and 29 are quoted.
The consultant’s recommendations are on page 30.
The online report on having four active pieces of apparatus is here:
The Mayneliner article on this topic of four vehicles:
A Summer Salad Bar of Community-Related Issues
Ferries: As BC Ferries contemplates options for the maintenance or reorganization of Route 9 (the Queen of Nanaimo run,) the Salt Spring Island Ferry Advisory Committee hosted a recent meeting with FAC members from Mayne, Pender and Saturna. This ferry is approaching retirement age, and her loss will threaten established expectations of service in the Southern Gulf Islands. As the ultimate owner of the system, the Province will have to review its ‘user pay’ agenda of incremental withdrawal of subsidy. User Pay might result in ‘user don’t use’, ‘user stay home’, and ‘user watch coastal communities shrivel’; all while inland ferries are operated as part of the highway network. Maintaining adequate subsidy of ferry access may be the most efficient tool for ensuring the survival of many BC coastal communities.
Roads: MIRRA’s Transportation Subcommittee expects to meet with officials from the Ministry of Highways in late July. We were given verbal assurances of substantial paving work to be completed on Mayne this summer, but doubts are beginning to outnumber the potholes. You may be a driver who is making the connection between deteriorating roads and increased damage to your vehicle. The Highways bureaucracy moves in mysterious ways, but we are attempting to interact with it.
Riparian Issues: AffectedMayneIsland property owners, having paid for a requested scientific study and providing information that there is no evidence of fish habituating our lakes, rivers, swamps and ditches, are now encountering a hardening agenda from Provincial authorities. At issue is the prospect of losing use of significant areas of one’s property – for no demonstrable reason beyond the usual that certain quarters prefer to establish and maintain rigid controls on what we carelessly refer to as ‘private property’. Mayne’s Island Trustees are the souls of reasonableness, compared to the shenanigans promoted by the Salt Spring Island Trustees, where they attempted to blanket most of the island with development permit regulations. Those plans were eventually put on hold after an aroused populace made their displeasure known. However, though activist bureaucracy may frequently under-perform, it seldom sleeps. Those inclined to vigilance can find more information in the ‘Links’ below.
Sensitive Ecosystem bylaws: Still pending are potential bylaws that categorize Mayne down to individual ecosystem ‘polygons’, the resulting database then to result in blanket DPA (development permit areas) regulations. We question whether this is all in response to an identified problem, or in fact is becoming a problem in itself. Long-time observers of Mayne’s flora and fauna can attest to Man’s ineffectual strategies for exploiting or limiting trees and deer, for instance. We might better expend our efforts on ‘preserving and protecting’ to affirming the mundane processes of ordinary owners taking care of their property.
Parks Canada Plans: ParksCanada recently presented stage 1 of their Gulf Islands National Parks Preserve Management Plan at the Ag Hall. As this expansive agenda enfolds us, we should take the opportunity to provide input to plans that will determine how we live in the islands.Ottawa is far away; speak clearly so they can hear you. Updates at: www.parkscanada.gc.ca/gulf
SSI Superior Shuttle info: As discussed during the fire hall referendum, gaining Superior Shuttle accreditation does not guarantee reduced insurance rates to property owners island-wide. Such accreditation makes it so islanders are eligible to apply for reduced insurance rates. A clear example of this comes from Saltspring, with three fire halls, many hydrants over the entire island and seven full time firefighters on staff; a significant part of the island is not eligible for these insurance savings. The bottom line is if you live at the end of a long driveway, in a remote part of the island or on the top of a hill your property may not be eligible for insurance savings under the superior shuttle program. The links to the maps showing the Saltspring properties eligible are posted on the MIRRA website.
We believe the long term goal of obtaining Superior Shuttle accreditation is honorable and worthy of support, but it must not be tied to inflammatory generalized statements at the time of referendum. If it can be done as part of a reasonable updating and upgrading of our firefighting services it deserves endorsement from all quarters. If such efforts result in substantial increases in taxation to all islanders when not all islanders would benefit from insurance savings, it must be questioned.
MayneIslandhas a well funded, well staffed fire department that, at times, is under appreciated. The service provided and countless hours put in by the members needs to be acknowledged by all members of our community.
Links: The days of Gulf Island communities coping with governance issues in isolation from each other are coming to an end. If the topics that MIRRA monitors interest you, you’ll probably find some cause for excitement at the following websites. These links and others can be found on our website www.maynebc.com
All-Candidates Meeting: In the May Mayneliner, we announced two All-Candidates meetings for the November 19th municipal elections: October 29th for Islands Trust and November 14th forCRD. After further consideration, we’ve decided to swap these dates around.
Islands Trust All-Candidates Meeting: October 29th
CRDAll-Candidates Meeting: November 14th
Both meetings will be at the Ag Hall at 1:00PM.
This timing should give voters better candidate information sooner, and allow more time to consult and compare notes with each other before voting for Trustees.
We’re all pretty engrossed with normal summer activities right now, but in upcoming issues, MIRRA will examine specific questions regarding the relationship between the Islands Trust, candidates, and the community.
Enjoy your zucchinis!
Living in Interesting Times
Politics: it seems like nobody’s talking about it, then suddenly everyone is. We swing from cynical disinterest to partisan fever. Too little attention, and things stagnate; too much and they threaten to fly apart. We tsk and tut over lapses into incivility and hope to still have our friends after heated debate. Good luck to us!
At the April 15th All-Candidates Meeting, Gary Lunn, Edith Loring-Kuhanga, Elizabeth May and Renee Hetherington provided Mayne Islanders with a glimpse of their respective substance and style. The political positions of the candidates and their parties were no mystery to most of the audience, who appeared to already possess a map of who fit where on the spectrum. Do you suppose anyone changed their voting intention based on anything they heard in the Ag Hall that day?
Event sponsor MIRRA would like to thank Elma Maund for stepping into the role of Moderator and keeping things on track, Dave Maude for corralling all the candidates into the same place on the same day, and Bob McKinnon for making sure the shared microphone’s cord didn’t get wrapped around anyone’s neck. And thanks to the people of Mayne for welcoming the candidates with obviously keen interest and many sharp questions.
The next day, the community assembled again for the AGM of the M.I. Improvement District, curious no doubt to see how things would shake out after the recent fire hall referendum. What occurred was a bit of a crash course in the mysteries of improvement district finances. Salaries reported in aggregate caused some surprise amongst the audience when one courageous fellow read out the breakdown, comparing them critically to similar-sized communities and pointing out that the recent trend was increasing alarmingly, and the situation was “out of control…” Other questioners reinforced the point that costs were becoming too high and needed to be controlled, and that the Improvement District should look into providing financial statements that were more comprehensible to average islanders. The Board agreed this was desirable and would likely be pursued by a future Board. Deputy-Chair John Hoff presided over a sometimes-tense meeting with an adroit combination of flexibility and firmness.
MIRRA congratulates the newly-elected Trustees and supports the Board in its goal of forwarding the fire hall project and addressing the concerns of the community for fiscal responsibility.
Keeping with the theme of Politics:
• October 29th: CRD All-Candidates Meeting
• November 14th: Islands Trust All-Candidates Meeting
After that, we may be ready for a break…
Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association
March 2011 Newsletter
MIRRA Maintains “VOTE NO” Position on Fire Hall Referendum
Sound Reasons to Vote No:
• $3.4 million for this project is too expensive and puts us in heavy debt for too long.
• We face other upcoming infrastructure costs (health centre expansion) and our small tax base will soon need to meet these demands as well.
• MIID needs to heed all the tax payers concerns and adopt an attitude of fiscal restraint in a time of economic uncertainty.
• Parcel tax is the usual form of levy for such projects and is the fairest way to share the cost among property owners in the community.
• Mayne Island’s fire hall problem can be solved for much less than $3.4 million; our neighbors on Saturna have shown this.
• Superior Shuttle Service certification remains a possibility with a more economical fire hall design; it is not dependent on this more costly version.
MIRRA recommends a NO vote to send this project back to the drawing board for a more affordable solution.
How a Community Makes Decisions
Of all the levels of government that impact our lives, the Mayne Island Improvement District is the one closest to us, and most within our reach to influence. There’s no shame or offense in daring to question this body that is here to serve us. It is the right of citizens to hold their government accountable and freely communicate their opinions, especially on complex and controversial proposed projects they (and their descendants) will have to pay for. So, take a chance – talk to your friends and neighbors about the referendum question. Share your views and questions. Then vote – for the solution that solves the problem with the least possible financial hardship for the community.
MIID AGM: April 16th
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Improvement District posted the financial report on their website ahead of the AGM to allow for meaningful examination by the community? And how about allowing some time for candidates for the three available Trustee positions to introduce themselves and their reasons for running? Candidates and electors deserve it.
Memberships and donations are what cover expenses.
MIRRA sent out over 1,000 letters to off-island property owners February 1st, to make sure they received information they would not hear from the Mayne Island Improvement District, and recommending a No vote on the fire hall referendum.
If you would like to support the work of MIRRA, individual memberships are $10 and donations are gratefully accepted.
MIRRA S1-C55, Mayne Island, BC, V0N2J0
MIRRA’s purposes are:
To scrutinize the taxation and levies imposed on our residents from the five levels of government;
To lobby elected, appointed and other officials to obtain the best possible services for the community;
To monitor the processes being used to impose taxes and recommend changes to improve transparency and accountability of the organizations imposing the levies;
Communicate with our residents and the broader public through articles and electronic media.
Respectfully submitted by the MIRRA Executive
Bob McKinnon, Colleen Ming, Barry Wilks, Dave Lindquist, Wayne Ming
Deer Community Forum: On Friday January 14, there will be a community forum to explore and discuss the ever growing issue of deer on Mayne Island.
As we all are aware, Mayne is home to both native Black Tail deer and imported European Fallow deer. With no resident predators and a hunting ban, the Black Tail population has expanded will beyond the capability of the islands ecosystem. The introduced Fallow deer population has become increasingly aggressive, only exasperating the overall impact on the island.
From a human point of view, farmers and backyard gardeners are being impacted daily. Vehicle collisions are common on many islands. As well, deer are a known host of the ticks responsible for Lyme Disease and are potentially the most broad based source of EColi contamination on the islands.
The forum is intended to identify the extent of these and other issues as well as develop the initial mechanism to explore solutions. The forum panel will consist of representatives from all levels of Government, local Conservatories, Farmers, RCMP and other stakeholders. All residents are welcome to attend both for information and to contribute experiences and ideas to the forum. We would like to express our appreciation to our MLA and Environment Minister Murray Coell for his efforts in supporting this forum.
As the issue is not unique to Mayne, this forum likely will be used both as a tool and a template for similar forums on other islands. The key is to define clear and achievable objectives and developing to tools to achieve these objectives.
Firehall Replacement: In November MIRRA hosted a technical forum with representatives from Permasteel. The intent of the meeting was to clarify that a steel building would meet all requirements of the BC Building code and would be appropriate for consideration as an economical and proven building technology for the fire hall replacement. The meeting was very successful and well received by all in attendance.
Memberships: A reminder that memberships are due if you have not renewed since October.
Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association As 2010 draws to a close it is both a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. Often times MIRRA has been accused of having a ‘hidden agenda’ or only being concerned with one issue. In fact the organization has been active in many parts of the island, trying its best to represent the interests of residents and ratepayers as a whole. MIRRA 2009/2010 accomplishments:
Initiated community awareness on the pending loss of RCMP services, coordinated meetings, petitions and lobbied government. MIRRA actions helped to initiate a review of the RCMP actions
by the Solicitor General and additional funding was put into the provincial budget to insure retention of RCMP services.
Set up a liaison meeting with the Ministry of Highways and MainRoads to address community concerns with regard to maintenance and paving.
Organized a community meeting with BC Ferries to discuss future plans, community concerns and open dialog with the island. Subsequently, MIRRA coordinated protests of the deck allo- cation scheme that would have severely impacted islanders.
Continued efforts to open up access with the Miners Bay dock.
Assisted landowners in finding alternatives to the Riparian Regulations being imposed by the Is- lands Trust that would have inappropriately impacted property rights on the island.
Provided monitoring at MIID, Islands Trust, BCFS and other public meetings.
Initiated an Economic Development Committee to encourage business activities on island.
Found significant discrepancies with the Fire Hall referendum; contacted the Provincial Govern- ment who investigated, intervened and stopped the referendum.
For 2011, we have many issues on the island radar. These include the upcoming referendum for the Fire Hall, major paving planned by the Ministry of Highways, continuing issues with BC Ferries and the scheduled Improvement District, CRD and Islands Trust elections. MIRRA will be active in distributing information and providing a voice for the membership on these and other topics. We are in the process of establishing a web- site that will help to disseminate information in a more efficient and accurate manner to all islanders. As well, MIRRA has several Community Forums planned for 2011:
Deer Population BC Ferries RCMP Saturna Fire Hall team presentation Parks Canada
CRD and Islands Trust all candidates meetings
Memberships are what support all these efforts. In one way, the organization is financially supported by members. However, membership also translates to real numbers when talking to Government. The more members MIRRA has, the more government bodies can accurately gauge the overall community support for our efforts. For those whose membership is expiring (ie: If you have not paid membership after October 1,
Queen of Nanaimo: August 3rd saw Mayne Island at it’s finest in the aftermath of the acci- dent when the ferry Queen of Nanaimo attempted to move us closer to our friends on Saturna. The response from our Ambulance Crew, Mayne Island Fire, Mayne Island Emergency Services, Southern Gulf Islands Emergency Program, RCMP, BCFS staff and count- less others in a clear, coordinated manner were a strong indication that, as a community, we are in good hands. This extended to the crew of the Queen of Cumberland who, on the mid-day sailing, took on all of the evacuees from the Nanaimo and the Mayne Island traffic. The crew had free beverage stations set up, kept everyone informed and ensured a speedy unloading at Swartz Bay. Well done.
BC Ferries: August 3 also saw BC Ferries community forum with regard to the proposed deck allocation on the 11:05 sailing of the Mayne Queen. Despite the previous claims that no concerns had been raised about this proposal, 100% of those in attendance were not in favour of this idea. The message was received and the feedback will go back to BCFS. It was also chilling to learn from our local Ferry Advisory Committee that the BCFS were not aware that Mayne Island had experienced any vehicle overloads at Miners Bay in recent years. It was requested that the terminal staff record all vehicles turned back due to over- loading. If you are turned back at the booth because of overload, please request that you be recorded as an overload vehicle – these numbers are critical for planning by BCFS. Overloads are not a daily occurrence, but they do happen. Pender Island records every ve- hicle that does not make it aboard a sailing and uses this information to lobby for more sail- ings; we need this same information to insure BCFS is fully aware of traffic issues on all islands.
Fire Hall: The Improvement District continues to make progress with the proposed Fire Hall replacement. The September 4 public information meeting has been delayed.
MIRRA AGM: Mayne Island Residents and Ratepayers Association is having its Annual General Meeting on October 11th, 2010, 7 pm at the Community Centre. Membership re- newals are due at that time, available at the door: $10. If you care about the issues that MIRRA addresses, please attend, and further, consider serving on the board. Nominations from the floor are encouraged and welcome. No other community organization addresses the range of issues that MIRRA does. Many of you have let us know that you care, and ap- preciate the efforts. Your support and energies would be highly valued.
Submitted by the MIRRA executive on behalf of its members. firstname.lastname@example.org
Human beings are perhaps one of the most destructive creatures ever to inhabit our planet; we have created horrible, lasting impacts for centuries. However human beings also have the wonderful ability to adapt, evolve and prosper with each challenge. We have dealt with climate change for thousands of years, survived floods and drought, world wars, the atomic age and BC Ferries. With each impossible situation we learn and move forward.
In recent months our island has seen several events that have both divided us and brought us closer together. It is important that we put each event into perspective and work together to find solutions. As in any small commu- nity, there are rumours, half-truths and sometimes outright disinformation that emanates resulting in conflict and negative feelings that do nothing to enhance our island home. Many of us tend to be reactionary, jumping into the debate in an effort to protect us from what we consider to be the ‘enemy’.
Communication can solve many problems; we strongly encourage each individual islander to attend public meet- ings, talk with your neighbors and get both sides of any issue prior to passing judgment. In the coming months we anticipate some critical items to be on the collective islands agenda. It is of utmost im- portance that each of us embraces the process and support what we believe to be in the best interest of the is- land as a whole. At times this means setting aside a personal concern in order to advance the greater good, At times this means challenging what your peers endorse. At times it means simply getting involved and working with others to build a ‘better mousetrap’.
The primary message is each of us should work at taking the high road and take any negative energy and turn it into positive energy. Please put forward your concern, opinion or suggestion in a positive manner. This is too good and too small of a community to survive endless bouts of finger pointing, threats and raised voices.
We anticipate BC Ferries will be holding a community forum on island shortly to address some upcoming changes to service to and from the island. The main proposal is to restrict traffic off Mayne on the 11:05am sailing to Swartz Bay to 24 passenger vehicles and not allowing some types of commercial vehicles on this trip. There is also an ill-conceived initiative from B C Ferries to eliminate the printed schedule in 2011, we are hoping this will be reviewed and seen as being not in the best interest of users. There are also some minor adjustments being made to the morning and afternoon sailings of the Cumberland as the vessel is struggling to keep the current schedule.
A grassroots initiative from Hornby Island has gained much momentum in recent weeks. Over 1000 people have signed an online petition (Complete with eye-opening comments) requesting the Provincial Government review the Islands Trust Act. The strong sentiment amongst many is each major island becomes an ‘Island Municipality’, following the lead of Bowen Island 11 years ago. Currently each island is subjected to governance by the Islands Trust, local Improvement Districts, Regional Districts, Provincial and Federal Governments with many gaps be- tween jurisdictions leaving residents no place to turn for guidance or support. Naturally each level of Government has their hands out for tax dollars that leave our island economies never to return. The coming months could see a review underway and potential (positive) critical changes to our governance structure and enabling local deci- sions to be made on a local level.
You can find the online petition at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/review_islands_trust_act/ Or simply type in ‘Islands Trust Petition’ into your internet search engine and look for ‘Review the 35 year old Is- lands Trust Act’.
Submitted by the MIRRA executive on behalf of its members. email@example.com