Tag Archive: cobble hill

Where is the money coming from to build Cobble Hill

Tofino Fourth and Campbell Streetscape Improvement

Here is a picture of Tofino, before and after.

Tofino has gone down the path that Cobble Hill is on right now. First we are building a design charrette with the community to create a VISUAL pallette of what we would like to see in the village.

Next will be to prioritize what to do.

One of the funding sources that Tofino accessed and we can as well is the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET). They help fund projects they believe will help the economic vitality of an area. Chemainus and Lake Cowichan took grants from ICET as well.

This is just one of a few grant programs that we can access.

 

Consulting Cobble Hill Businesses

survey hi res

Last month I met with roughly a dozen businesses from the Cobble Hill village. 40 invites were sent out and I hope to have ongoing meetings with the business community.

I started with the village core for a few reasons (I will be reaching out to other Cobble Hill Businesses in the new year)
1. Their close proximity to each other would share a lot of common goals and problems.
2. The village employs roughly 200 people.
3. The Official community plan states that there is a desire to have development/densification happen in the village.

The meeting was great. You can see the newsletter I handed out today, recapping the issues we spoke about. I also went back today to hand out surveys to those who were unable to attend. Questions I asked were:

 

  1. what’s something you need right now that one of your fellow business owners might be able to help you with?

 

  1. What would you like to see in the village?
  1. what DON’T you want to see in the village?

4. on a scale of 1-10, how do you feel your business is doing overall? ________

5.how many people do you employ? _______________

6.how has your past experiences with the CVRD been? What did you like? What was bad?

  1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the village?

AS YOU CAN IMAGINE the questions I will ask of other businesses in Cobble Hill won’t be so “village core” centered but the intent is still the same… to reach out to the business community and see if there are ideas, questions or concerns that they may have. As a small business owner myself (farming & a video business) I understand the challenges that entrepreneurs face as well as established businesses but that doesn’t mean I know it all. I want to ask questions and learn about our business community.

If you have any ideas or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Nov 2015 Business Newsletter

Cobble Hill Business Improvement Area – November 2015

Newsletter Follow Up

 

Hello Cobble Hill Village businesses!

We just had our first meeting November 5th at the Cobble Hill Youth hall and I would like to thank all of those who attended. I learned A LOT in those two hours.
The purpose of this newsletter is to update those who were unable to attend and recap the discussion that happened.
Roughly a dozen businesses attended with a majority being “industrial” businesses. This means there was a focus on industrial issues and concerns.

Topics Covered

  1. Cobble Hill Village Revitalization – I explained the concept behind the revitalization plan as well as the reasoning for consulting the business community first. For example, Some of these upgrades could have large impact on the industrial truck traffic IE – roundabouts.
  2. Drainage & ditches – Both Cobble Hill road and fisher road have experienced drainage issues in the past. I hope I was successful in explaining to the group that drainage issues (like so many other issues for the village) are going to have to be tackled as a WHOLE rather than fixing one ditch at a time. If not, then we are just sending the water down the way to be someone elses problem. Overall, there was great frustration with the ministry of transportation.
    Thankfully,  our GM of Engineering has years of experience in roadways and drainage. I will be meeting with him in the village to seek his advice on the challenges and the best course of action.
  3. Water – The Cobble Hill improvement district provides water to the village area. They are approaching the limits of their allowed capacity but are working on a study to expand capacity. I am trying to connect the improvement district with the CVRD for resources and funding.
  4. Development process & CVRD – For those who have expanded their buildings or added new ones, there was a common theme that they felt the process was cumbersome, difficult and challenging. The number of studies required, the length of time, and the Area Planning Commission process, were all factors in what one person described as “trying to move forward with a windsail in a windstorm”.
    I was clear that I would like to help the process be easier and faster. At the same time, I expressed that this did not mean a blank cheque for the sake of development.
    I am researching “best practices” that could be used at the CVRD as well as speaking with other directors about how their APC’s operate to try and learn more.

 

SO WHAT’S NEXT???

As stated above, I have some work to do:

  1. Look at a village drainage plan/strategy
  2. Help the Cobble Hill Improvement District however I can
  3. Research and implement best practice for development permits

The holiday season is coming upon us and with it all the personal and business commitments that come with it. So I am looking to have another meeting in mid-January.
It is my hope that more of the retail businesses can attend at that time to lend some of their thoughts to the conversation.

If you were some of those unable to attend, I have attached a survey for you to fill out and mail back to me when you have some time. It would help me tremendously to have these completed surveys for future reference.

Once again, if you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.

Cheers!!

Matteus Clement
Cobble Hill Director
250-715-6874
matteusclement@gmail.com

Photo Nov 11, 1 52 36 PM Photo Nov 11, 1 52 25 PM Photo Nov 11, 1 51 30 PM

The Farming Riddle

As a local politician AND a small scale farmer, I have been working for almost a year on how to boost farming potential in the valley. You can download the document I have so far here:  Agriculturetaskforce (1)

The four pillars: Training, Land, Capital, and Markets.

Training
How do we train the next generation of farmers?
How will they know that they want to farm?
Is there a way for them to start out small?
What is the best way to train new farmers? Workshops, video library, incubator farms, homesteading fairs, mentor farmers?

Land
We can train the best damn farmers this side of Canada but if they don’t have access to land, it’s going to be a fruitless exercise.

How can we build a landbank?
Can we help draft leases to make sure each party knows what they are entering into?
Is the lease good for produce only or can there be livestock?
What will the exchange be? Farm status, rent, barter, exchange of produce?
What’s the fair market value for farmland here in the valley?
Can we connect training and access to land for succession farming?
Do some people just need access to pasture?

Capital
You will notice in the top left hand corner of the photo that I mention start up costs. Fencing is a reality with the valleys large deer and elk population. As an example, my costs have been $2/ft for fencing. There are more costs to think about…

How can we help finance new farmers? Microloans, grants?
Can co-ops help facilitate access to equipment?
Does every farmer need to have a processing kitchen or can they be shared (or mobile)?
What is best practice for storing produce and how can each farmer build a cool room for that?
How can we capitalize on new technologies like solar to low cost for new farmers? How will they access that technology?
How much does it cost to start up a small farm? Produce only? mixed use?


Market
Growing food is the easy part. Getting someone to buy it is the hard part. The reality is that we will need to make a huge effort to shift 60 years of car centered supermarket shopping habits. It is going to have to be both EASY and CONVENIENT for both the farmer and the consumer… that is a tall order!

What’s the threshold before a farmer has to have quota? And for what products?
Are the farmers markets in the region operating at their best? Are they in the best locations? How can we help them? Could they use park land?
What institutional purchasing could we leverage here in the valley?
Can we develop an app or website that allows consumers to easily buy produce from a farmer according to their postal code? Could that generate enough business for the farmer to then deliver? (Remember the old fashioned milk man?)
Where do bigger purchasers like restaurants come into the picture?

 

IDEA

Let’s contract a not for profit that will build an entire video library of HOW TO FARM. Ranging from how to grow vegetables to raising and processing animals. Put it on youtube and make it free. But why would we make $100,000 worth of videos and research free? A few reasons:

 

  1. We need people to start somewhere as farmers. With local video production, we can recommend local sources of supplies, expertise and resources.
  2. Even if people don’t farm and just grow their own food, that is money they are saving that can be spent elsewhere in the economy. It will also be healthier for our citizens.
  3. It will show we are pioneers. We have more unused farmland that we could ever hope to fill in my lifetime with local people. We are going to need a new generation of farmers as well to come to the valley.

 

This leads into the next phase of the idea, workshops. Once someone has watched these videos and tried some of them, the next step may be to get some boots in the mud on a “real” farm. We could work with local farmers to host workshops (pay them an honorarium for their time) for people interested in going from Novice to Intermediate farming. Once this newbie farmer has completed the workshop and some work on the farm, the mentor farmer signs off, saying that the apprentice has attended the workshop and put in some grunt time (free labour for the farmer?)

 

Once this apprentice farmer has taken a series of workshops spread through out the year as well as a small piece of land they have been working on, they may want to move to the next phase of LAND and CAPITAL.

 

The land should be easy enough to find and procure through a comprehensive land bank. This needs to be maintained by a third party who will seek farm land that will both ALR as well as residential land that is zoned for agriculture use. A suggest model looks like an initial start up requiring 200 properties that are evenly distributed through out the CVRD then to add 50-100 pieces per year and keep the bank up to date.

An important component to land banking is assisting land owners (and farmers) with leases. A host of variables could leave either party with a sour taste in the mouth because the farmer is inviesting into the land the the land owner does not want to be inconvenienced or fleeced. The proposal is simply to assist in draft leases that would help outline terms that neither party may be aware of. (Refer back to the questions asked above in the LAND section)

 

As for CAPITAL, we could work with a microfinancing organization to give loans to small farmers. Small scale farmers do not require the funds that large scale industrial farms requires because they don’t use heavy machinary, meaning a ballpark of $5000 loans.

With a history of attending workshops and presenting a business plan, a new farmer could then finance their new farm infrastructure like fencing, irrigation, soil, compost or livestock.

Even if not for CAPITAL, this method of training could also assist in succession farming by vetting aspiring farmer by showing them the hard work that goes into farming.

 

Lastly and most importantly is ACCESS TO MARKET.

Farmers market are the not the end game to selling produce for farmers. It is ONE avenue but it is also ONE day of the week to sell. A model has to be formed to allow farmers to sell 7 days a week. This also has to be done with the greatest CONVENIENCE on both the customer and the farmer.  

 

One idea was to create an APP (for smartphones) that would act a direct conduit from customer to farmer. The app would allow the customer to search farms based on their postal code and to pay the farmer directly. This would then allow the farmer to make deliveries that are close to their farm and hopefully have enough deliveries to “make it worth while”. Imagine the old days of the milk man… the customer could put a cooler on their front porch and have the farmers deliver.

In essence, this could be a “Craiglist for Farmers”, requiring the farmer to update their own profile. The app would allow farmers to collect contact information of their customers as well for more marketing follow up and allow the customer to get to know their farmers.

Compared to other proposed models, this one would remove the need for a middleman or halfway storage points. It would be direct A to B allowing the freshest produce to get to the customer.

 

Public Meeting Nov 19th (7pm) – Garbage & Recycling

NOVEMBER 19th at 7pm @ the cobble hill hall

curbside-square

Garbage Collection options

As you may have read in the paper, the CVRD is asking the public its opinion about what it would like to see from the CVRD in the way of garbage and recycling options. You will be seeing flyers on your recycling bins at the end of this month. Simply fill them out and hang them on the bins the next time you put them out to the curb.

Upon receiving the survey, there will be a public meeting to talk about the options on the table which include:
– staying with the system in place (Pan Disposal or self regulation)
– Bi-weekly curbside Recycling and Garbage pick-up (same day) –  Price includes garbage tote = $102
– Weekly Organics pick-up and bi-weekly Recycling & Garbage pick-up (same day) Price includes collection totes = $165

Some of you may have already received a pamphlet from PAN disposal that looks like this

pan flyer

While I understand that PAN disposal and its owners see a threat to their business model if the CVRD was to start collecting garbage like it does in 4 other electoral areas, I feel it is important to fact check some of what is said in this flyer PAN has distributed. The following list is from our staff at the CVRD

1. The survey is not a “vote”. The CVRD Board has requested for a survey and not a vote. The CVRD has made it clear on all written material and at all Open House presentations that this survey is not a formal vote and is intended to gauge the resident’s views with respect to waste collection services in the CVRD.

2. The survey will not be completed from all areas within “2 weeks” but will span over a few months as we have at least two meetings proposed in January 2016.

3. The newly proposed “services” cannot and will not start in “January 2016”.

4. “Lack of choice” – The survey, the CVRD website, and the Open Houses in each Electoral Area provide ample opportunity for residents to gather information regarding “choices”.

5. “The CVRD plan effectively shuts down local small businesses” is an inaccurate statement. The survey will reflect the choices of residents living in each Electoral Areas regarding source separated garbage, recycling, and organics collection. Residents will choose one of three choices clearly highlighted on the survey: 1. Complete service (bi-weekly garbage/recycling and weekly organics collection); 2. Partial service (bi-weekly garbage and recycling collection); and 3. No new curbside services (meaning, no change to current services). Once staff present the survey results to the Board, the Board will decide if and when to select either service options. The question regarding “who” the hauler will be is the next subsequent question, where I am certain that the Board will consider the private businesses.

6. As the curbside budget spans all Electoral Areas, some of which do not have access to private collection services,it is necessary to ensure that all residents get access to the same choices presented in the survey. It would not be fair and equitable to offer a fully automated service to residences in one Area and neglect the other.

7. “Community Consultation” – This is exactly the purpose of the survey and open houses. Pan Disposal was a part of this community consultation for Area A. Also, several press releases, website info and social media info sessions will be provided throughout the length of this survey.

8. “Tax increases for everyone” – CVRD’s garbage pick-up service is based on an annual utilty bill . The curbside budget is funded solely through these utility bills collected in the Electoral Areas. There is no tax requisition. CVRD has provided the fee for every option if the Board decides to use CVRD Staff and Equipment to deliver any new services. In fact, for an average family that requires weekly and bi-weekly pick up service, their bills will decrease significantly. **For the areas that do have CVRD collected garbage, their bills have fallen in the three years they have been active.

9. The leaflet states that the blue box costs were significantly higher than expected. The costs were in line with what was stated and when the blue totes program was started all utility bills in the Electoral Areas were lowered and have not had an increase since 2013. This includes budgeting for future capital replacement. It also states that the curbside budget does not include fees for tipping, fuel, labour, insurance WCB vehicle repair and maintenance. All these expenses are fully captured in the curbside budget

10. True costs – Garbage pick-up as mentioned above is based on an annual utility bill (Function 515). The survey includes all costs for waste pick-up. Speaking about Function 520, increased recycling and organics will eventually lower the requisition, lower the greenhouse gases and will also benefit tax payers through reduced illegal dumping and waste burning after effects.

Sorry for the long post but I felt it important to get all the facts across. If you still have more questions, please feel free to email me or attend the November 19th meeting.

MClement@cvrd.bc.ca

FOLLOW UP POINTS

Since writing this article a few extra comments/conecerns have come to my attention that I want to address in point form.
1. Non answered ballots will be counted as a “YES” vote. – FALSE
As an elected official who is making these decisions, it would be foolish of me to interpret non-answers like this.

2. Doesn’t matter what we vote, the CVRD staff have already made up their mind – FALSE 
First, the staff at the CVRD don’t make these decisions, the elected officials do.
Second, I have not made up my mind. I want to see what the surveys say as well as what is said at the Cobble Hill Hall meeting.

3. The projected costs are going to be higher than what’s on the ballot.
The CVRD is already gathering garbage in 4 of the 9 electoral areas and have been doing so for the last 3 years. This gives ample data to show what the costs are of garbage collection are. In fact, the costs have been going down, albeit only $1 per year… leading me to feel confident that staff do indeed know the costs.

South Cowichan Senior’s Luncheon

 

Did you know that every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, there is a Lucheon for seniors of the South Cowichan?

It’s held at the Farmers Hall in Cobble Hill at 3550 Watson Ave. You can drop in and donations are welcome.

I went today with Amalia to see the event, which was attended by 100 people!! Here are a few photos to share.

south cowichan seniors luncheon

Al Garside being a great Emcee and host

Al Garside being a great Emcee and host

My daughter, Amalia, coming out for the event.

My daughter, Amalia, coming out for the event.

cobble hill seniors lunch

Whole event is run by volunteers

What water means to me

I grew up in the Cowichan Valley in the 90’s and I don’t remember there being so many droughts as there have been the last few years. Perhaps now that Zoe and I are starting our farm, we pay attention to these issues more…

Two recent events have really shaped my views on water. One was a video contest that NATO held in 2012 where I had to create a one minute video of “what security meant to me”. My gut decision was WATER. Here is the video that I won with and took me to the Chicago NATO summit as the only Canadian representative.

Then earlier this year, the Shawnigan Lake Residents association (SRA) hired me to live stream their environmental appeal online. I sat in on 30 days of deliberations, arguments and scientist explanations. It was an eye opening experience to see the complexities of how water flows and it was equally eye opening to the powers we do (and do not) have to protect our water. I made a video earlier that year as a gift to the SRA for all their hard work. I really wanted to capture the worst case scenario of a destroyed aquifer.

I recently went to a discussion panel in Duncan put on by the council of Canadians, which covered food and water security. As various people spoke, the topic seemed to stray into how we could CONTROL water through metering and fines. It was at that point that I said, “We keep talking about how to make the stick bigger through fines and metering but we aren’t talking about how to make the carrot bigger.”

How do we reduce residential water use?
How do we reach the goals of irrigating more farm land?
How do we make those work at the same time?

I don’t have all the answers but I do have the passion to find out through group discussions, looking at other regional districts and speaking with experts from all over Canada.

I hope to have your vote November 15th so that we can continue to have these important discussions.