Halfmoon Bay director Garry Nohr will serve his third consecutive year as chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) board.
Nohr was re-elected to the position by acclamation at the Dec. 13 board meeting, with Roberts Creek director Donna Shugar reinstalled as vice-chair.
Setting out his priorities for 2013, Nohr listed several important initiatives that need to be completed in the coming year. They include the parks and recreation master plan, the audit on recreational facilities, the solid waste management plan “and the recycling options that come out of it,” and continuing to ensure all areas of the Coast have potable water.
“Another major focus this year should be improved networking with Squamish Nation,” Nohr said.
Other high priorities include working toward the goal of a bike / walking path from ferry to ferry and keeping on top of the St. Mary’s Hospital construction to “make sure the purported opening date is the real date,” he said.
“In my view it is important that the chair of the regional district works for the whole Coast and not just one area,” Nohr said. “I also think it is crucial to hear from both sides on any issue and make sure everyone feels they are being listened to before a decision is made.”
During the budget process that starts next month, Nohr said the board must strive to give taxpayers “the best service for their tax dollars in all our mandated functions.”
The SCRD, he added, “needs to continue to lobby for Coast-wide economic development.”
Alliance off the table
Following the District of Sechelt’s decision to opt out of the proposed regional economic development alliance, both the Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) and the Town of Gibsons have formally withdrawn from the process.
In a letter dated Nov. 21, SIB Chief Garry Feschuk said his council had discussed the SCRD’s draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) during two Sechelt Indian Government District meetings in the fall, but decided it “will be pursuing economic development through its own initiatives,” he wrote.
“We would like to participate in update meetings to exchange information on economic development, and would appreciate receiving notice so we may send a representative,” Feschuk added.
In a Dec. 3 letter to the board, Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe said his council recognizes the potential benefits from a Coast-wide economic development alliance.
“However, support from all local governments is integral to the success of that initiative, and this does not appear to be achievable in the near future,” Rowe’s letter said.
Last month, after District of Sechelt Mayor John Henderson rejected the draft MOU as “unworkable,” directors agreed to schedule a workshop next year to try to revive the initiative.
Commenting at the Dec. 13 board meeting, Gibsons director Gerry Tretick said the letter from Rowe “leaves the door open for regional economic development” in the future, while Gibsons council carries on in 2013 “with a sub-regional approach.”
Columbarium promises good return
SCRD staff is recommending the board approve construction of an above-ground columbarium at Seaview Cemetery in 2013.
The columbarium is the “most sought-after interment option by customers” and would generate revenue to cover the cost of construction as well as fund other projects at the cemetery, parks services manager Carleen McDowell said in her report to the community services committee.
Another project worth considering next year is a memorial wall, but a proposed scattering garden would not provide a good return on investment and could pose operational problems, McDowell wrote.
“The public presently scatter their loved one’s ashes in places like local forests and the ocean. The cost to construct such a space would far outweigh any revenues gained from sales as persons would likely visit to do scattering without paying,” she wrote.
The recommendations will be considered as part of the board’s budget talks.