Editor's note: In the first issue of 2013, Coast Reporter invited our federal, provincial and local representatives to share their thoughts and expectations for the New Year. Following are their messages (in alphabetical order).
Sechelt Mayor John Henderson
In 2012, your council made numerous decisions to build a stronger and more prosperous community.
Early in our mandate, we developed a strategic plan and since then have worked on completing projects that our community told us were needed.
We have spent considerable time on two major initiatives, the wastewater treatment project and expansion plans for the airport.
We paved many downtown roads as well as the West Sechelt/West Porpoise Bay connector. We supported the farmers' and artisans' market relocation to Cowrie Street and installed an electric vehicle charging station for public use at city hall. The wide variety of great arts and culture programs continued and grew and, in December, lighting of the second playing field at Kinnikinnick Park was completed.
2012 has, no doubt, had its challenges — personnel changes, our community forest's activities, responding to legal issues and responding to natural disasters. While some of these activities have led to criticisms from a few citizens, I want to acknowledge the many people who have taken time to express their appreciation to us, with comments like “you're doing great” – “you're on the right track” – and “keep up the good work!”
In 2013, we will start construction of the wastewater treatment project and get the airport expansion underway. As well, we will aggressively pursue business development opportunities and work hard to raise the profile of Sechelt off-Coast and around the world.
Looking ahead, I encourage everyone to channel their energies into positive initiatives and solutions. It's easy to be critical — of each other, of council and even of events outside our control. But in the long run, this approach does more harm than good for our community. Let's all commit to finding initiatives to which we can respond positively and leave the negative energy back in 2012!
SCRD board chair Garry Nohr
As chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), I would like to wish all the people living on the Coast a successful 2013, as all of you are a part of the SCRD.
Two highlights for 2013 will be the official opening of the new hospital renovation and the completion of the parks and recreational master plan.
This year, the staff of the infrastructure department will be striving to complete the solid waste management plan under the new guidelines and will complete initiatives for improved water systems in Pender Harbour and Egmont. Open houses for the waste management plan will be held later this year.
The budget process for 2013 will start on Monday, Jan. 14, and the board would appreciate it if as many people as possible attended to witness the due diligence that staff and directors put in to get the best for your tax dollars. You can check the SCRD website and identify the different services you are interested in, and where they are on the upcoming agendas. Efforts will be made to keep any tax increase to a bare minimum.
I am looking forward to a positive year with many of the projects that staff members are working on in different services coming to a completion. I feel the SCRD staff are sometimes not shown appreciation for their efforts on many of the projects they work on and get unfairly criticized.
A new resident to the Coast informed me recently how “pleasing and accommodating” she has found the SCRD staff to be compared to the community she moved from. As customer service is one of the goals of the SCRD, and if the staff is appreciated for their positive attitude, we will all have a great year.
Best of the season and a great 2013.
Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe
December 2012 completed our first year as a council — and saw fruition of several key projects.
In January, we received the overview of the draft harbour area plan. In December, with the harbour area plan incorporated into the Town's official community plan (along with the Upper Gibsons and Gospel Rock neighbourhood plans), we were proud to hear that a truly innovative funding partnership will ensure that phase one of our revitalized working harbour will be completed in early 2013.
Also in December, our new RCMP community policing facility opened its doors. This purpose-built, state-of-the-art LEED building, located on Sunnycrest Road, anchors an evolving civic centre in Upper Gibsons.
In the course of 2012, council has listened carefully to public submissions at a series of public hearings and open house presentations. This culminated in carefully reasoned and stated decisions by councillors to revise the Gospel Rock neighbourhood plan prior to its incorporation into the OCP. The resolution of this long-standing and often-contentious issue stands out as one of our most satisfying achievements this year.
Staff laid the groundwork for wide-ranging revisions to legislation that will clarify and harmonize zoning and development servicing processes and infrastructure. These changes, incorporated in newly enacted bylaws, will ensure the development and zoning processes are more time-and-cost effective.
In 2013, council plans to focus on the community's core needs as revenues are directed to rebuilding our community's actual foundations — roads, sewers and so forth.
We will be guided by the protocols set out in the new subdivision and development servicing and storm water management bylaw. This new and very comprehensive bylaw identifies construction protocols for roads, walkways, utilities and services within the Town of Gibsons.
Reflecting on this past year of adjustment and growth, council is proud to be part of this forward-thinking community.
May 2013 see us continue on the path to a strong, inclusive and happy Town.
MLA Nicholas Simons
It continues to be a privilege to serve as the member of the legislative assembly representing Powell River - Sunshine Coast.
Politics sometimes takes a bit of a break at this time of year, which is a good thing for everyone. So much has taken place this year, even with only one session of the legislature.
It's a time to spend with families and friends, to reflect on the things that bring enjoyment to our lives, both material and personal.
It's also traditionally a time of year when we think about those who struggle more, and what we can do for them. From our Commonwealth Boxing Day traditions to New Year's resolutions and all the traditional stories in between, we reinforce our community's values of generosity and giving.
It isn't exclusively a time of joyous celebration for everyone. For people who have lost loved ones recently, and for those whose lives have been altered by unforeseen events, this season can be a painful reminder of what is missing. I hope that the beauty of the Sunshine Coast brings solace to everyone.
This is a season to enjoy music like no other holiday or time of year. From the choirs in the churches to the jingles on the stereo, music plays a central role in our lives. So regardless of the material focus that we see around us, and which many of us enjoy, I hope that music's message of hope, anticipation, celebration of light, and joy can be a central part of everyone's holiday season.
Happy New Year.
MP John Weston
As we reach year end, it's our family tradition to pause and thank the many people in our lives for their contributions to our health and welfare.
Contrary to common perception, most of what I do as member of Parliament is not about politics — it's about service. People who are dedicated to service won't be surprised that my best work is not performed alone, but in the company of a dedicated and talented group of staff members and volunteers.
One after another, these people demonstrate exemplary service, driven by our team's professed mission and values.
My staff deals directly with the people we serve, on citizenship and immigration matters, social security issues, veterans' affairs and other matters.
Whether it's an injustice suffered by a Canadian languishing in a foreign jail, parents locked in a bureaucratic struggle to adopt children overseas or the scourge of drug addiction, my team members come to the plate time and again, working hard and getting results for the people we serve.
Beyond our paid staff, our wonderful volunteers enable us to take on some of the larger projects that we initiate, such as events in the Chinese, Farsi and Korean-language communities, National Health and Fitness Day and Ride the Riding. We could never undertake such ambitious events relying only on the small team of people facilitated by our Parliamentary budget.
As we start 2013, I thank my staff and volunteers who serve our constituents with gusto and help me understand daily why Canada is the best place on earth.
My wife Donna, Shane, Jake, Mei Mei, my staff, volunteers and I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
School board chair Silas White
At School District No. 46 (SD46), our school year has started off wonderfully, providing the right atmosphere for exciting conversations and initiatives in 2013.
Early in the new year, we will be working with the Sunshine Coast Regional District to renew our master agreement regarding the joint use of grounds and facilities.
We will also be meeting with the Sechelt Indian Band and other First Nations representatives to finalize an enhancement agreement for educational achievement of Aboriginal students.
Our superintendent and all Sechelt-area principals, in addition to our district principal for Aboriginal programs and services, are in direct and ongoing contact with the Sechelt Nation education department, resulting in more consultation and a stronger shíshálh presence in our schools.
We also plan to work with the Band and other community resources as we move ahead with a new outdoor education program. Similarly, we'll be holding a community forum to gather input and ideas for environmental education in the spring. Community schools are going strong, under a new effort to equitably provide services to vulnerable students in all our schools.
SD46 is also endeavouring to encourage leadership from within. We've helped a dedicated group of parents build a district parents advisory council that holds well-attended meetings every month. We've started a local “principal pool” and recently filled three positions and another interim position with internal candidates from our own community.
Despite this positive path, we're under no illusions the next year will be easy. A difficult conversation is ahead on the impending over-capacity situation for West Sechelt Elementary School, and we need to settle new collective agreements with our support staff and teacher unions in the midst of a provincial election. Throughout all these discussions, our board will be ensuring that the best interests of our students and community will be the top priority.