Hello everyone, this has definitely been a year for the books and we still have a number of months to go. What a year to start in politics! I am sure everyone at one point or another has been on a Zoom meeting! That has been my life for the past number of months and it will sure be nice to get back to face to face meetings at some point! I have been kept very busy by many requests and concerns but have managed in most part to keep up with everything going on in light of all the restrictions we have with COVID-19. We have done very well in our community as we have had no known cases of COVID-19, in the past number of months so hats off to everyone for doing their part!
This report is a bit lengthy, as time has not been on my side but will try to get more frequent blogs to you.
COVID-19 BRV Community Support Program:
The program has been up and running for almost 6 months now and is still working well. It was only planned for 2 months but due to the generosity of our community it is still going. This program has changed a bit and the Lillooet Foodbank now comes out to hand out large food hampers once or twice a month for the people receiving the groceries. You can donate to the program to keep it going by contacting the Lillooet Food Bank at email@example.com. The mailing address for the Lillooet Friendship Center Foodbank that supports Gold Bridge is PO Box 2170-357 Main St. Lillooet BC V0K 1V0 if you want to send a cheque. If you want to donate, you must use the code word “Gold Bridge” so the funds go to this program. They also can supply you with a charitable donation Receipt on request. A big “Special Thank You” goes to the Lillooet Food Bank for supporting our community!
Hurley FSR Update:
The road had its initial grading late due to unforeseen circumstances and the grader operator did not have much road material to work with, as you may know if you drive it. Shortly after it was graded it deteriorated quickly, due to the heavy vehicle traffic on it. As with many other areas in the Province people wanted to get out of the populated areas and get out into areas such as ours. At the top of the Hurley I have seen the most amount of vehicles that I have ever seen in the past and I have counted well over 50 vehicles parked on a number of occasions on our travels over it! Others have seen up to 100! This was partly due to the closures of the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park and other Parks in the Sea to Sky Region due to COVID-19. The Forest Ministry was successful at securing extra funding of just over $100,000 for brushing, ditching, and finding more road surface material. These tasks were completed in the month of August. The funding came from the Forest Employment Program due to the decline in the forest industry.
At the Union of British Columbia Municipalities meetings we meet with the Cascades Forest District Manager and Ministry Staff. They said that there was limited budget for FSR road maintenance and that they prioritize roads that the public uses that have communities with the FSR roads being the only access in and out. The Hurley is not one of them as Road 40 is the main access to the valley year round. They have however committed to getting the traffic counts for the past ten years as they have 3 vehicles counters on the road. They also committed to see if they can find some funding streams for road bed material as it is desperately needed as we all know. Well as of this writing I have found out that after the UBCM Meeting they did find another $100,000 from the the same Forest Employment Program! The plan is too use two sets of excavators and graders both starting at the Hope Creek area and work from there. One back to the start of the Hurley on the Pemberton side and the other to the Gold Bridge side. They will use existing areas that they have taken road bed material from in the past, other location’s and also spread the piles that they created while doing the ditching. Hopefully this will be finished before the snow starts and that it will be in good shape for next years opening. Expected start date is after the Thanksgiving long weekend.
There was a Facebook post regarding road safety and logging trucks on Road 40. I had communications with the Forest Company, Lillooet RCMP, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement representative for our area. I shared the post and comments with them. The RCMP and CVSE both said that any safety related incidents should be reported to them. The person that saw the incident is the one to submit the report. They asked for accurate information with regards to time, location, direction of travel, vehicle and load description and complainant contact information. Without these details, it is very difficult for them to investigate and resolve any incident. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement representative said he is in constant contact with the Forest Company and the RCMP and takes action when required. You must drive very defensively on our roads and adhere to the posted slow down speeds and stay in your lane.
We certainly have had our share of Wildlife issues this year in the valley. From a Moose being shot at the summit of the Hurley, to a Grizzly bear attack in the local BC Park, to sightings of Grizzly bears in our local communities, and to a Cougar attack in the Marshall Lake area. I wish the young boy a quick recovery from the injuries and that the rest of the children and adults that are recovering from this traumatizing Cougar event. With that please be aware of your surroundings and take all the necessary precautions when out and about in our neighborhoods and backcountry areas that we live and play in. Carry some form of communication device and bear spray on your body and practice using them. If out in the backcountry let someone know where you are going and expected time of arrival back.
Visitors to the Valley:
This year as mentioned in the Hurley update, we have had a lot of visitors to the valley. I have had numerous complaints regarding people camped on Crown Land and not practicing Leave no Trace principles and not being respectful of the communities. I have communicated with our Compliance and Enforcement officer and they have requested that if you see something to report it. Link to the Compliance and Enforcement RAPP Line info page: RAPP Line.
At a SLRD meeting I submitted a Director Report which read: I am requesting that the SLRD staff look into the costs and logistics of creating an educational video and signage regarding recreational users in the Electoral Areas of the SLRD. The main topics would be “respect rural neighborhoods, explore responsibly and Leave no Trace Principles”. This has been an issue throughout BC over the years but amplified this year due to COVID-19. The motion was approved and we will see if we can make this educational video happen.
Bralorne Sewer Project Update: taken from the SLRD Website posted on August 13th:
“The SLRD has recently completed 3 sanitary service connections (2 residential and the fire hall). The Request for Proposals process (for 16 sanitary service connections) did not result in the selection of a contractor for this work, and therefore a new Request for Proposals will be issued in the coming weeks and will have a start date of spring 2021. On August 10, 2020, the discharge permit for the new wastewater treatment system was issued by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) – this will enable the commissioning of the new system to proceed in accordance with MOE requirements.
SAVE THE DATE: The SLRD is planning a virtual Bralorne Sewer Community Meeting on October 7, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. (via Zoom). (Additional meeting information will be released in the coming weeks). To assist staff with preparing for this community meeting, please forward any questions about the Bralorne Sewer to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Bralorne Community Meeting” – if possible, please send questions by September 28, 2020 so that information can be included in the presentation materials to address these questions.
The SLRD is in the process of establishing what the date of commissioning will be (this date is expected to be by the end of October).
Once the commissioning date is established, the SLRD will provide the Ministry of Environment with the required advance notice thereof.
By the end of September, the SLRD will issue a new Request for Proposals for 16 sanitary service connections with work to be undertaken in spring 2021;
On October 7, 2020, the SLRD will hold a virtual Bralorne Sewer community meeting (more information to follow);
In spring 2021 (after the 16 connections mentioned above is completed), the SLRD plans to decommission manholes and septic tanks that are no longer needed.”
Bralorne Main Street Repaving:
I have enquired regarding the paving of the Main Street in Bralorne and found out that the SLRD will have to pay for the portion of the road that was disturbed by the Sewer Project. I requested information to see if the Community Gas Tax Fund that is available to Area A could be used for this purpose. Due to the fact that the Bralorne Sewer project was funded by a Community Gas Tax Fund, may make it not eligible due to Stacking concerns. I finally got the answer this week and confirmation that we can use the Community Gas Tax Fund that is available to Area A. Some good news on this front. The SLRD is now working with MOTI on our percentage of costs for the repaving of the road. Stay tuned.
Other Initiatives that I have and am working on:
Worked with some of the Brett Creek residents on their dust issues due to the high logging truck traffic. We were successfully in obtaining an enhanced dust control program for the Brett Creek residential area on the Marshall Lake Road. This has been a long standing concern for the residents of this area.
The Bralorne Recreation Area – Sub Committee on their requested funding of just over $22,000. They required services to be performed by a Qualified Environmental Professional and a Cultural Sensitivity Assessor along with a License to Cut permit application. They also required services for Brushing and Clearing the small trees and brush above and below the existing old ski cabin. This request was approved at a SLRD Board of Directors Meeting.
Facilitated a BRVCA working group for a new BRVCA Society Bylaw and Policies that were approved at a recent BRVCA General Meeting. Thanks to the working group members Terri Smith, Christine Oliver, Jane Roberts, Debbie Demare and Benno Chapman. Special thanks goes to Carmen Stacey for her expertise and help with this initiative.
In 2019 the SLRD had a report done regarding Wildfire Risks in Area A. this is a link to the report: SLRD Area A Community Wildfire Protection Plan. I am looking into Fuel Mitigation projects for the Gold Bridge and Marshall Lake areas and hopefully have a meeting set up with the Cascades Forest District Manager in the near future along with a SLRD staff member.
Worked with Community Futures Sun Country regarding their application for a Regional Business Liaison position as it relates to COVID-19 recovery for businesses and organizations. They were a successful applicant and we now we have a representative for our valley. The representative will be in contact with local businesses and organization’s to help in their recovery from COVID-19.
At the SLRD Board of Directors meeting on July 22nd I found out that there was funding available for Bandwidth improvements from the Rural and Northern Communities “RNC” Infrastructure funding stream and it is funded by both the Provincial and Federal Governments. The application for the funding could either be a Local Government or a Not for Profit Society. I knew that Minto Communications was looking for funding to increase their bandwidth as they contacted me for leverage funding. I mentioned it at the SLRD July 22nd meeting and said that Minto was working with Telus for improved bandwidth. The funding program had it set up that if a Local Government submitted the request that it would be 100% funded and if it was a Not for Profit Society it would only be 75% funded. I requested that the SLRD staff look into the Minto bandwidth upgrade plan and see if it fit the program. The staff did and they prepared a Report for Decision for the Board of Directors meeting at their August 26th meeting. It was approved at that meeting, that the SLRD will submit the application. The next step is that the SLRD staff and Minto Communications will develop the funding application with help from the BRVCA grant writer if needed, for the RNC Funding Program deadline of October 22nd. Great work by everyone getting it to this point lets hope the application is approved!
I and the BRVCA Grant Writer have worked with the BRV Rod and Gun Club for a Grant in Aide request. The funding request was for $5,000 to have Cascades Environmental Resource Group facilitate activities and negotiations to secure a land tenure for a new shooting range. The Grant in Aide request was approved at the SLRD Electoral Area Directors meeting on September 2nd meeting.
I worked with the Tyaughton Lake, Gun Creek Road, Gun Lake Ratepayer groups on their requests for enhancement of their “No Firearms Discharge” signage as per SLRD Bylaw 1293-2013. I have engaged the SLRD staff, and they have been very helpful in this process. The ratepayers groups in total, have requested 2 large signs and 13 smaller signs that will be placed in the main access areas to their respective Bylaw zones. I had developed a Director Report to fund this project and it was approved at the SLRD Electoral Area Directors meeting on September 2nd meeting. Please click on this link as it really explains the bylaw well, as it relates to who can shoot in the Bylaw Zone: SLRD Area A “No Firearms Discharge Signs” Bylaw.
The Bridge River Valley Community Association requested funding for the upcoming 2021 year as follows: $5,250 from Electoral Area A Select Funds for a grant writer for Area A; and $1,250 from Electoral Area B Select Funds for a grant writer for Area B. This request was approved at a SLRD Board of Directors Meeting. This position has done an incredible amount of legwork for various organizations and is so important in finding funding opportunities for various projects throughout Area A and Area B.
Both SLRD Area A and B submitted the following Resolution: “Request that the SLRD apply for the 2021 NDIT Business Facade Improvement Program by the October 30, 2020 deadline date.” This request was approved at a SLRD Board of Directors Meeting. This funding will be up to $20,000 dollars and split amongst Area A and Area B. This is a yearly program for the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) that we can apply to. Have a look to their website to see what they have to offer in funding opportunities. Link: NDIT Website
The BRVCA submitted the following request: “Bridge River Valley Community Association requests funding of up to $12,500 to move forward with the restoration of the Bralorne Pioneer Mines Building where plans are in place to relocate the Bralorne Pioneer Museum” this was approved at a SLRD Board of Directors Meeting.
The LaJoie Lake (Little Gun Lake) Residents Association requested funding for a Scientific Research Project to determine the causes of the deleterious changes in the lake. I worked with the Association and they have now secured the help of the BC Conservation Foundation to administer the program. Dr. Ken Ashley from BCIT will interview prospective students to find a suitable candidate for the project and will work with the student on a lake restoration plan as part of a Master of Science thesis in the BCIT and Simon Fraser University Graduate Program in Ecological Restoration. The costs have risen from the initial Association’s request but with help from the BRVCA Grant Writer, they now have a draft request assembled targeting other funding sourcing to supplement the SLRD request. The funding request will be finalized in September and should come to the SLRD Electoral Area Directors meeting for their October 14th meeting. This is a great group to work with and I have learned a lot through this process.
I have had a number of constituents come to me with concerns regarding the Gun Lake Boat Launch. The BRVCA Boat Launch Committee will be having a meeting to review the concerns and come up with a plan to alleviate them.
Some highlights and lowlights from the Ministers, BC Hydro, and Cascades Forest District meetings that were held before the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Annual General Meeting:
I asked the question regarding the paving or resurfacing of the gravel sections on Road 40. The answer was that Road 40 gravel sections will not get paved as they prefer them to be gravel but will get capped with new compacted gravel. Total costs are around $400,000 and they will be using 10,000 cubic meters of road bed material. This work has been delayed due to the work involved in clean up from the major rain storm we had that caused all of the mud slides on the Road 40. It is now expected to start near the end of October.
I posed a question for more Engineered Controls to limit rock fall onto Road 40 to Minister Claire Trevena and she stated that the road was safe to travel and is closed when it was dangerous to travel. I used the example of the tractor trailer truck that had a huge boulder land on the cab in the Bridge Canyon! There were no commitments made at this meeting. I will continue pursuing this issue and look at incremental improvements, as was done on the slide just before Bralorne with the concrete blocks.
We asked the question that secondary roads such as the roads around Gun Lake be lowered from the current speed limit of 80 km/hr for various safety reasons. The answer we received was a no, that they do not do it unless it is a community such as Gold Bridge or Bralorne. It was not the answer we were looking for but I will continue pursuing this.
With regards to public recreation that has been an issue and that has been exasperated with COVID-19, the province is looking into adding a Guardian Program to the upcoming Budget. This program would put boots on the ground to help with concerns that rural areas have raised regarding people not respecting the communities, environment and leave not trace principles. I will be contacting our MLA and seeking support for this program for our area after the upcoming Provincial election.
BC Hydro agreed to hold Community meetings with regards to their operations that relate to our area. The BRVCA Economic Development Committee will be sending out a Survey to see the interest and what the community would like to see at these meetings.
BC Hydro will work at better communications as it relates to planned and unplanned outage communications. I have requested that they put more accurate information that reflects the many communities in the valley and which areas are affected with the outages.
As you can see it was a busy time and there is a lot more behind the scenes with individual constituent concerns and issues that I have and am still dealing with. There are more initiatives that I am working on and hopefully they will come to fruition, so I can share them on my next blog. I have enjoyed this time as your elected official and look forward to helping where ever I can.
Stay safe and be well,