Author Archive: matteusclement

Why I am against the affordable housing tax

Why I am against the affordable housing tax

I grew up during my school years knowing only an apartment because it’s all we could afford.
I have experienced the severe anxiety that comes with looking for a rental with only days left.
And Only until this year did I get to know what home ownership was like.

So on a deeply personal level, I WANT to see an affordable housing function happen in the CVRD but HOW we are going about it seems all wrong. Throwing close to a million dollars a year at the problem is probably going to help but I have too many questions for me to support this current action.

Why isn’t affordable housing being built already?

Just in the rental market there is a HUGE demand, yet we are not seeing units built.

What roadblocks exist at the CVRD to affordable housing to be built? Zoning regulations? Permit wait times? Short staffed? And can these be solved for less than $750,000 a year?

I know the answer is yes. By shortening permit wait times with additional staff, investors would be more likely to create the housing we need. There are municipalities with 48-72 hour turnaround times!

I know of a local couple who built two houses but while waiting 3 months for a permit, racking up $15,000 in interest on private loans. Imagine how much a 40-100 unit developer eats in interest when doing this kind of work. If the business case and dollars don’t make sense, why would a developer take on a losing project?

Or let’s take the financial hit another way: The CVRD General Manager of planning estimates that there are roughly 2000 possible secondary suites within the CVRD with existing zoning. What if we waived permit fees for secondary suites and expedited the applications to grow our rental housing stock?

Why did we go with the first organization that came to us? What organization in the history of the CVRD has received $750,000?

The folks at Cowichan Housing have their hearts in the right place but they are not the only housing organization out there. $250,000 per year will be used for just administration and staffing.

Why can’t we hold onto all the funds and work with developers to entice affordable housing?

Or Imagine how much land we could buy with $750,000 per year… There have been municipalities that have owned/purchased land only to sell it for $1 with strict terms and conditions for a developer to build on it. This can help create sustainable long term affordable housing with a service delivery model.

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I understand the good intentions by my peers at the CVRD board table. We have all been touched by the housing and rental crunch. Friends and family members who need a home but can’t find one too common of a story.

But just like when we go to buy our first car or first home, we need to separate emotions from fact. We need to shop around, get second/third opinions and be sure that we are being diligent in our efforts to fix this LONG TERM problem. Throwing the money at the problem today isn’t going to solve the problem tomorrow so let’s make sure we did our best to find the best solution.

 

Community Conversation Review: Design Charette

Cobble Hill Conversations

Last night saw a turnout of about 65 people who come out to see what the final design charette looks like and how it can be used to preserve the rural feel of Cobble Hill.

While some folks were upset about the cost of the project and how it was funded, I felt that we came to an understanding on a couple of key points with this:

1.  I understand that some people feel there wasn’t enough consultation. I heard that at the budget meetings, through email and at this meeting. That is why I want to have these meetings. I want to ensure more people feel part of the process. I feel as a group we can come up with better solutions together.

2. The horse has left the gate. Many people commented that they are happy with the final product so let’s work together to make cost effective solutions to creating a safe village core.

People talked with their table mates during the round table discussions and brought up good points about moving forward:
1. Walking safety is a high priority
2. Tax payers don’t want to pay for business frontage improvements
3. Work with ministry of transportation (MoTi) on a truck route to stop big trucks through village
4. How can we fund the sidewalks/paths?

On the last question of how we can fund these walkways, I have seen the park volunteers make some amazing gravel paths that are compacted crush gravel. These allow strollers, walkers and bikes on them. They are cheap to fix and maintain.

Example of crushed gravel path

The next steps in getting paths in the village will be to meet with MoTi to learn of their standards they would like to put in place.

Copies of the charette can be found here:

CH Charrette Summary Final low res

CH Charrette Toolkit Final low res

Cowichan Search and Rescue

Emergency centre has long been the plan
(Cowichan Search and Rescue)

Over the last few weeks, there has been significant media and social media attention regarding the Cowichan Valley Regional District establishing an emergency operations centre at Bing’s Creek, in the facility currently occupied by Cowichan Search and Rescue (CSAR).

While the conversations have been broad ranging, there are two identified needs: the community’s need for an emergency operations centre to help manage a coordinated response to emergencies like wildfires, and Cowichan Search and Rescue’s need for a larger facility.

On behalf of the CVRD, I would like to clarify the establishment of an emergency operations centre (EOC) at Bing’s Creek has been planned for some time. The region does not currently have a permanent EOC that can be mobilized at a moment’s notice, as well as provide training space for emergency training activities throughout the year. To fund the establishment of the emergency operations centre, the CVRD is using savings from previous budgets, ensuring there will not be a tax increase in 2018 for this project.

Over the years, Cowichan Search and Rescue has used this facility rent free until plans for the EOC could be finalized. On behalf of the CVRD, I offer my sincere apologies to the current Cowichan Search and Rescue team members, who were obviously unaware of the CVRD’s plan for this space.

The CVRD and Cowichan Search and Rescue have worked together for many years, and we value the relationship. We are continuing to work together to maintain the relationship and find solutions to CSAR’s facility requirements. However, the option to include the emergency operations centre and Cowichan Search and Rescue at Bing’s Creek, sharing the existing space, does not meet the individual operation needs of either organization.

As you know, Cowichan Search and Rescue is looking for community support to meet their facility needs. If you wish to find out more about their requirements, or feel you may be able to assist them in financial or material ways to achieve their goals, please contact them at newhome@cowichansar.org.

John Elzinga, general manager of community services, CVRD

Dewi Griffiths, Cowichan Search and Rescue president

(Taken from Cowichan Valley Citizen)

New Cobble Hill Aquifer Interagency Task Group 

The Cobble Hill Aquifer Interagency Task Group (CHAITG)

Much of Cobble Hill and surrounding area is supplied by aquifer 197, which is a source of drinking water for several improvement districts, small water systems, domestic drinking water wells and industrial-commercial wells on non-serviced lots. Groundwater quality is a long-standing issue in Cobble Hill, with nitrate concentrations above the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

In late 2017, the Cobble Hill Aquifer Interagency Task Group (CHAITG) was formed to take a collaborative approach to address the multi-jurisdictional issue of groundwater contamination, and to evaluate the potential risk to groundwater users in the Fisher Road area.

The CHAITG consists of representatives from the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Island Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment.

The goal of the CHAITG is to:

  1.    Undertake groundwater quality assessments to understand the current condition and location of the nitrate contamination;
  2.    Work collaboratively with regulatory agencies and land owners to eliminate additional sources of nitrate contamination to the aquifer, where feasible; and,
  3.    Identify concerns related to public health and communicate these to residents, well owners and water system managers in the area.

On December 18, 2017 CHAITG invited stakeholders from improvement district, water systems, etc. to report on and receive feedback on the CHAITG’s proposed work plan. The work plan for 2018 includes, but is not limited to, re-sampling select groundwater monitoring and drinking water wells in the Cobble Hill area.

The group will continue to meet in 2018.

 

Drywall No Longer Accepted at CVRD Recycling Centres

Drywall No Longer Accepted at CVRD Recycling Centres Due to Safety Concerns
 
Duncan, BC – Effective Monday, December 18, 2017 Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) Recycling Centres will no longer accept drywall due to health and safety concerns associated with asbestos exposure. Asbestos can be found in drywall mud and tape and is common in buildings built prior to 1990.
 
Exposure to asbestos can cause serious illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. This is why WorkSafe BC has strict rules for the demolition and disposal of drywall, as well as other materials that may contain asbestos.
Annually, the CVRD serves over 200,000 customers at its three recycling centres. Compared to other recycling services provided, the drywall portion of the operation is small. However, the amount of CVRD resources required to manage drywall has been significant.
Starting on December 18, 2017 customers with drywall will be directed to private waste facilities that have the resources to manage drywall appropriately. Drywall that is asbestos-free may be disposed of at the facilities listed below. To be certified as asbestos-free, drywall must be date-stamped 1990 or later or be accompanied by a laboratory certificate.
·         Coast Environmental Ltd., Duncan
3015 Boys Road
T: 250.746.4573
Hours: Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
 
·         Coast Environmental Ltd., Chemainus
9401 Trans Canada Hwy
T: 250.246.3216
Hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
 
·         Fisher Road Recycling, Cobble Hill
1355 Fisher Road
T: 250.733.2108
Hours: Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
 
Asbestos-contaminated drywall or other asbestos-contaminated material may be disposed of at the Duncan Coast Environmental facility listed above or the Cedar Road Landfill in Nanaimo listed below. Residents must contact facilities prior to drop-off to ensure receiving requirements are met. 
·         Cedar Road Regional Landfill
1105 Cedar Road, Nanaimo 
T: 250.722.2044 

Hours: Monday to Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
 
For more information on asbestos and materials that may contain asbestos, visit:www.cvrd.bc.ca/asbestos-kills.

Malahat LNG update

This was a e-newsletter that was forwarded to me by Director Davis. I will post more information as it comes.


 

Malahat Nation and Steelhead LNG no longer exploring the Malahat LNG project
Malahat Nation and Steelhead LNG are no longer exploring the proposed Malahat LNG project on the Malahat Nation-owned Bamberton Industrial Lands.

Steelhead LNG made the decision after careful consideration and based on several factors as we look to develop a project that delivers low-cost LNG that is globally competitive.

Malahat Nation and Steelhead LNG have been exploring the project together for nearly two years, conducting environmental studies, engaging local First Nations and communities, and undertaking engineering work.

Steelhead LNG is grateful for the time and effort of Malahat Nation’s Chief and Council, administration and community in considering the Malahat LNG project as part of their comprehensive portfolio of economic development activities. Steelhead LNG would like to thank and acknowledge the many Malahat members who contributed more than 2,200 hours of work as Field Assistants on the early environmental studies.

The information and data that we collected together created a better understanding of the Bamberton Lands and surrounding areas, and we hope can be used to support future Malahat Nation endeavors.

We would like to thank all of the First Nations and community members who expressed an interest in the project and took the time to provide us with feedback. Thank you to the many local businesses who we had the opportunity to work with over the time we were exploring the project.

Steelhead LNG is continuing to explore the Kwispaa LNG project (formerly Sarita LNG), located southwest of Port Alberni.