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Gold River To Receive Government Funding For Business Improvement

March 30, 2019

 Gold River is receiving $29, 140 to develop a plan to create a business improvement area in consultation with local merchants. The plan will include a “shop local” campaign, as well as explore the feasibility of Wi-Fi in the downtown area.

The plan also includes a business ambassador program to support and welcome prospective investors and entrepreneurs in Gold River.

North Island to be surveyed for potential mineral deposits: Geoscience BC

March 30, 2019

NORTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. –

The North Island may hold some mineral deposits. Geoscience BC wants to explore the area to make sure.

According to a release from the non-profit, they will use helicopters equipped with sensitive instruments that measure bedrock properties to help identify potential mineral deposits in the North Island.

The survey will look at areas from Port McNeill and Sayward in the north and Zeballos, Tahsis, and Gold River in the south.

This survey follows a survey done around the area in 2012, which was conducted further north and west.

Incoming minerals vice-president Christa Pellett said they want to hear from people regarding the project so they can produce the best data they possibly can.

“We have heard from experts that even with its strong mining history, this part of northern Vancouver Island is likely to have understated mineral potential,” Pellett wrote in the release.

She added that the project will provide new data to help future mineral exploration.

Currently, the project is still in the planning phase, with the precise scope and area still under development.

Geoscience BC will share updates with businesses, community leaders and First Nations in the proposed areas.

One of the organization’s goals for this project is to find metals and minerals that will help in the production of batteries, electronics, as well as powering renewable energy.

North Island College Expands Services

March 28, 2019

COURTENAY B.C- North Island College students will have more places across the world to study thanks to a new agreement.

According to a media release, The University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific (UMAP) Multilateral Student Exchange Program is an international agreement that streamlines the study abroad process for over 500 institutions.

The UMAP includes a variety of study abroad options, from semester-long exchanges and summer programs, to short-term opportunities.

Jennifer Barth is the Manager of Operations at the Office of Global Engagement for North Island College, and says if students are interested, the college will work with them every step of the way.

“We would begin process of working with the student in first identifying the location, and then finding an institution inside UMAP that they want to go to that best suits their needs,” said Barth.

“We continue to support the student from preparing to go abroad, right through to when they leave, while they’re abroad we continue to support the student, and when they return.”

Barth added that NIC has been hoping to expand the program for a while.

“We were wanting to find ways to expand that study abroad program and the offerings to our local students who are really interested in just going abroad for a semester or maybe more.”

Students that are part of the program would only pay NIC’s tuition fees, and not the international fees when they are studying abroad.

Barth also said that if students want to get involved with the program, it’s a great way to learn, but also to travel.

“It’s a pretty exciting opportunity for our local students to get out there and expand their horizons, it just opens their mind to see that there is a whole world out their that they haven’t explored yet.”

To learn more about UMAP and NIC’s other study abroad opportunities, visit: https://www.nic.bc.ca/international/.

Report From Our MLA

March 26, 2019

MLA Report March, 2019

I’m very proud of our government’s third budget delivered last week. It’s building on the strong foundation of last year’s budget and will truly make life better for people in North Island. 

It’s hard to pick and choose which items to write about but some of the highlights include: the elimination of Medical Services Plan premiums; the introduction of the BC Child Opportunity benefit for families with children younger than 18; and the continued roll out of our 30 point housing plan which is bringing homes to people in our communities.

We’re continuing to create a bigger, much more affordable child care system for our province. Not only families, all BCers will benefit from the increased number of spaces and reduced costs. A sustainable child care system is both important social policy and good for the economy. Business often cites the lack of affordable childcare has a problem that, in particular, prevents many women from re-entering the workforce.

BC’s economy is doing well and we’re continuing to encourage businesses large and small: the small business corporate income tax rate has been cut by 20 percent, and we’re eliminating PST on non-residential electricity which will help industry. We are facing a massive skills shortage which we are addressing in part through our Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). When we are building provincial infrastructure, the CBA will require apprenticeships be provided, local workers be hired and will enable those who often don’t have easy access to construction jobs – particularly women and Indigenous people – to get work. These initiatives will increase our workforce.

I’m pleased that primary health care remains a focus as it works well for North Island communities resulting in less travel to big centres for care. However we also are making significant investments in other aspects of the health system; for example, we’ve seen a massive increase in MRI exams and that will continue. Meanwhile through the expansion of Fair PharmaCare more than 240,000 families will find their prescriptions become cheaper.

North Island residents also will see benefits from CleanBC, our climate action plan. We’re going to provide assistance for retrofits, such as upgrading windows and doors and taking other measures to improve insulation. And there will be a subsidy to lower the cost of switching to new, more cost-efficient home heating systems.

Our region also will benefit from the $10 million investment to support the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization. One of the key goals is to rebuild secondary processing so BC logs can create BC jobs. We want to restore public confidence in the management of our public resource.

I’m proud that as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, we’ve been able to keep ferry fares frozen after we rolled them back last year; that includes free seniors travel from Monday to Thursday. I’m also very pleased that we’re going to be restoring ferry services cut by the previous government five years ago. And, stay tuned, there will be more happening on the ferry file in the weeks and months to come.

We’re in the Legislature for another week then I’ll be back in the constituency. Plans are for visits to the ‘’real” North Island as well as Gold River. And when not on the road I’ll be in Campbell River.

As always I can be contacted by email at claire.trevena.mla@leg.bc.ca or by phone: 250 287 5100 in Campbell River or 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy. You can find me on Facebook or follow me @clairetrevena on Twitter.

Best regards,

Claire

Council Report From Sizanne Trevis

March 23, 2019

(Please note, these are not the official minutes, this is a report of the meeting from Suzanne)

Gold River Village Council - March 18, 2019

Suzanne Trevis

Present at the regular council meeting were Mayor Brad Unger, Councillors Brenda Patrick, Rachel Stratton, Kirsty Begon and Joe Sinclair. Village Administrator, Larry Plourde was also present. There were eight members of the public, and the press, in the gallery.

Open Session is an opportunity for the public to ask questions of council. 

There was a query regarding trees that the village is thinking of cutting down on the strip of land separating the parking lot of the Village Square Plaza and Larch Place.  Mayor Unger explained that one of the initiatives from the Economic Development Committee was to put up an information kiosk in this location.  They feel it is a good, central area to place community / tourist information.  It is not a ‘done deal’ at this point it is just one of the ideas they are discussing.

With no further questions council moved into its regular business.  One item was added to the agenda and minutes of the Regular Council Meeting held March 4th were approved.

There were six reports on tonights agenda. Two were quarterly reports from last year.  Both the Parks & Rec/Public Works Department and the Aquatics & Utilities Department reports for Oct - Dec 2018 were received.  Mayor Unger asked why they were so late, but apart from the Administrator explaining that he had to remind Managers to get them in, there was no real explanation for the delay.

A report from Reg Stratton regarding the pavilion that is being planned for Nimpkish Park was brought back.  It had previously been received in early February, but was tabled until budget talks were underway.  Councillor Stratton recused herself to prevent any conflict that may arise and remaining council discussed options.  They decided to go with the original plan of a structure measuring 18’ x 22’ with a covered area including overhang, of 22’ x 26’, providing 572 sq ft of covered space.  They have been in discussions with Western Forest Products regarding wood, and now have the information they need to start pricing things out.

The next report came from the Administrator regarding Utility User Rate Increases.  He explained that Sewer, Water and Solid Waste (Garbage) Rates are self-funding, and revenues need to match expenses in order to ensure financial sustainability of the service.  All of these services are currently operating in deficit, and need to be increased.  The increases recommended by staff and approved by council are as follows:

Garbage up 4%, went from $220.45 per annum to $229.20

Sewer up 6%, went from 290.75 per annum to 308.20

Water up 6%, went from 203.40 per annum to 215.60

It should be noted that the TOTAL average per household for these services is still only $62.75 per month.

There was a report from the Aquatics Supervisor regarding the Summer Fun Program that is run by the Village each summer. Mr Lott was recommending that the rates be increased somewhat to help offset expenses. Rates charged are purposely set low, in order to assist families, and the Village regularly receives a grant that covers a portion of the expenses (approx. $4.25 of the hourly wage of student employees). However, this still leaves a shortfall that the village covers each year. Councillor Begon pointed out the staff to youth ratio needed, probably does not allow for them to just ‘add more youth’.  Councillor Sinclair commented that he felt the new rate was still “more than fair’.  The rest of council agreed and the new rate of $45 per child, per week was approved.  Net cost to taxpayers is approx. $1600.

Mayor Unger then reported on a meeting he, and Councillors Patrick, Stratton and Begon had with our MLA Claire Trevena. Ms Trevena is also the current Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.  Items discussed included:

•   Repaving and repairing major areas of Muchalat Drive and Highway 28 with a timeline due out by mid April.

•   Ongoing issues with the highway webcam at Crest Lake.  Apparently the solar power feature does not work well in this location and there is talk of possibly moving it. The Mayor commented that ‘it’s not doing our community any good if it doesn’t work in the winter’.

•   The Department of Transportation has been looking into putting a ‘speed reader’ board on the highway as you approach town, in order to encourage drivers to slow down as they enter the community.  The design is now complete and the project itself should be in place, next to the Information Centre, by May.

•   Changes to the Employer Health Tax have added about $27,000 in costs to the village.  Minister Trevena will be discussing this issue with other Ministers to see if they can make some exception for small communities.

•   The village now has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN) to work together to achieve a Community Forest License.  This has been a priority for the village even before the dissolution of the Nootka Sound Economic Development Corporation a few years ago.  The NSEDC managed a joint community forest license held by Gold River, Tahsis and Zeballos that, over 15+ years generated more than $250,000 in revenue for the community.  The Village has been lobbying for another license for some time.

•   Council has applications in for two large infrastructure grants at the moment. One for the Water Main Replacement under the Gold River bridge on Muchalat Drive, the other for the Biosolids Processing facility at the Public Works Yard. The minister will be looking into these for us to see where they are at.

•   Funding for Highway Rescue Equipment is another hot topic for rural communities, including Gold River.  Most of the rescue equipment used by our Volunteer Fire Department, is needed for accidents etc outside of our Municipal jurisdiction.  Council does not think it is fair that our taxpayers should foot the bill for the full cost of this equipment.  For example, the new jaws of life  we purchased last year cost $45,000.  Staff feel that a grant for $ 5-10,000 each year would go a long way to help offset these costs.  This issue has been brought up at UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities convention held each fall) and will be lobbied for again this year.

•   The Minister was brought up to date with renovations taking place at the Parkview Apartments, previously the Gold Crest Apartments.  A great deal of cleanup has been done, and some apartments have already been renovated and reopened.  Owners are looking at demolishing some of the buildings and council discussed what they could do to help mitigate the high costs that will be associated with doing this.

•   Councillor Stratton also brought forward some issues we face as a community regarding CMHC mortgages and new regulations. Some clients are finding it very difficult to get mortgages on modular homes in rural communities such as Gold River.  “We have affordable housing here but people are having trouble purchasing it,” she said.  “I don’t think the upper levels of government are aware of what is going on in the smaller communities.”

Under Council Information Items Mayor Unger reported that the Community Planning Meeting hosted by VIU student Sarah Holden went well.  There is another Open House BBQ and Community Engagement Event planned for March 27.  There will be a display of materials in the Vault in the Village Square, with a BBQ from 12-1pm and an open house from 6:30 - 8:30.  Comments from the public will help guide the direction of the recommendations that will be presented to Mayor and Council at the April 1st council meeting.

An invitation has been extended for council to meet with the School District #84 Board of Trustees prior to the Regular Board Meeting on April 8th to discuss items of mutual interest.  Mayor Unger explained that this is something council does annually to keep everyone in the loop.

The Mayor also reported on a meeting he had with RCMP Sgt. Wiese regarding ATV routes in the community.  RCMP are allowing ATVs to come down the Scout Lake hill and across the intersection to the RCMP station. At this point they can access fuel and head back up the hill, or come to the Police Station and get a permit that will allow them to continue on down Muchalat Drive to the parking lot adjacent to the Gold River bridge, next to the High School. At this point riders can walk across the bridge and access Clayworks Cafe & Gallery.  ORV’s would be limited to 4 at a time and would have to have a permit beforehand. He went on to say there would be ZERO tolerance for people not obeying the rules and this permission could be pulled at any time.

Council then went on to approve first, second and third readings of the new Trade Waste & Garbage, Water Rates and Regulations, and Sewer Rates Amendment Bylaws as discussed earlier in the meeting.

There were six items of correspondence:

The first from the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, was an invitation for the Village to support a Nootka Sound Salmon Park Network.  They want the Province to dedicate key Salmon watersheds, and provide added protection to the streams within those systems in order to help preserve dependant fish habitats.  They see this as a top priority.  Council agreed and arranged for staff to contact the relevant people to set up a meeting as soon as possible.

A letter from the BC Liberal Official Opposition advised council that recent changes may affect rules that require the inclusion of handicapped parking spaces within municipalities. They were asking if individual municipalities had policies requiring accessible parking spaces.  The Administrator was fairly certain that accessible parking is covered in our current zoning bylaws, but said he would look them over and advise council.

The next four items were Resolutions from the City of Victoria looking for support.  Topics included: Extension of Vacancy Taxation Authority to Local Governments, Recovering Municipal Costs Arising from Climate Change, Permanent Residents to Vote in Municipal Elections, and Provincial Government Universal Healthy School Food Program.  These resolutions will be coming forward at AVICC (Association of Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities convention) being held next month. Council agreed to take the recommendations that come out of that meeting.  The Administrator then mentioned that in addition to the four items from Victoria Council on tonights agenda, they have already received six more that will be on the next agenda!

During Question Period the press asked whether all commercial properties within the community had metered water. The administrator replied that nearly all commercial properties are currently metered and the village is working on bringing them all into compliance. The press then asked whether home based businesses were billed any differently.  Administrator Plourde then explained that this WAS an issue, as neither home based businesses or B&B’s/inlaw suites are billed extra when the obvious conclusion is that they are using more services than a normal household.  He also pointed out that it causes unfair advantage in situations such as a hairdresser, for example. A business being run from a commercial establishment will be paying for the sewer, water & garbage services they are using, while one being run from a home is using those services for free.

The press then asked if there were plans to do any scaling on Highway 28 as debris falling from the banks has already been a huge problem this winter. Council members agreed and the Mayor said he would definitely bring it up with Minister Trevena.  The press also asked whether the decision to allow ATV’s down Muchalat Drive meant they would then have access to the Ucona Mainline.  This caused some confusion as the intent was to allow them access to Clayworks and council was unsure about the status of the Ucona Road between Muchalat Drive and the Mobile Home Park.  The Mayor said he would have another chat with the Sgt and get clarification.

Resident Patti Linde asked why no one from Council was attending AVICC.  Mayor Unger explained that there was a shortage of rooms available in Powell River, where the convention was being held. He went on to say that Councillor Sinclair could attend if anything became available in time.  She also asked  when they were going to discuss the situation with the new administrator. The Mayor advised that it was an in camera issue and would not be discussed at the regular meeting.

Council then adjourned in-camera pursuant to the Community Charter section 90(1)(c) labour relations or other employee relations.

The next Council Meeting will take place Monday, April 1 at 7pm

Gold River To Get $$$ From Government

March 22, 2019

NORTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – Five North Island communities are among the recipients of emergency operations funding.

The five North Island communities are:

  • Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD): $25, 000 for a portable emergency operation centre generator

  • Gold River: $23, 280 for emergency radio communications enhancement

  • Sayward: $24, 440 for evacuation training and radio communications enhancement

  • Strathcona Regional District (SRD): $24, 475 for communications enhancement, group lodging facilities, and emergency public messaging

  • Zeballos: $25, 000 for an emergency management program and emergency centre development project

According to a release from the province, they are allocating nearly $1.5 million in provincial emergency preparedness funding to 63 local and regional governments and First Nations communities across the province.

The funding will support emergency operations centres (EOCs) and emergency training.

Since the budget update in September 2017, communities and governments in B.C. have received more than $20.5 million through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF).

“When an emergency situation happens, it’s crucial that communities have the training and resources they require to respond to the emergency quickly and efficiently,” Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor Mike Farnworth wrote in the release.

This funding is part of a $33.5-million plan aimed at helping communities prepare for and respond to disasters.

The CEPF is a suite of programs designed to enhance the resilience of local governments and their residents. The funding is divided into five streams:

  • Flood risk assessment, flood mapping and flood mitigation planning

  • Emergency social services

  • Emergency operations centres and training

  • Structural flood mitigation

  • Evacuation routes

​A Fond Farewell to Nootka Sound RCMP Family

March 21, 2019

It is that time again when our community bids farewell to a long time local Mountie and his family. Constable Ryan Walker and his wife Kathy arrived on a hot summers day in 2015 with their daughter Alison. Barely able to contain his own arrival, Ryan and Kathy’s son Colin was born as the last box was unpacked, completing their family of 4. 


Over the next, almost 4 years, the whole Walker family became not only a part of the local RCMP family but an intricate part of the Nootka Sound community. Kathy’s love of students and community brought her to many of the RWES classrooms, Alison and Colin were fixtures in many activities, and Ryan became a trusted go to for many who needed that extra support. 


Understanding that 4 years would go by quickly Ryan made the effort to get to know those we serve in both Tahsis and Gold River. He went above and beyond for his clients, celebrating their successes and grieving their losses. As a humble person, most of our citizens will never know the hours of dedication he has put into this life that many look at as just a job. To Ryan, policing is a calling that he takes great pride in, to the benefit of those he serves and for those of us who have gotten to be his colleague and friend. 


The Walker Family have made the bittersweet decision to leave the island and return to New Bruinswick. The opportunity to raise their kids among many cousins, aunts, uncles and most importantly, grandparents won out. We wish the Walker Family all the best on their new adventure and remind them they will be missed. New Bruinswick residents are very lucky Ryan, having you patrolling their streets keeping their homes and families safe.  


Thank you for your service and more importantly - Stay Safe!

Love From Your Nootka Sound and extended RCMP Family

RCMP Seeking Your Assistance

March 20, 2019

The Nootka Sound RCMP is investigating the theft of a green 1999 Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle from the trailer park located at 601 Matchlee Drive during the past two weeks.  If you have any information regarding this theft please contact the Nootka Sound RCMP at 250-283-2227 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

 

Cst.D.R.(Ryan) Walker

Media Relations Officer

Nootka Sound RCMP

Council Meets With Claire Trevena

March 19, 2019

Meeting with Minister Trevena March 14th
Councillors Begon, Patrick, Stratton, CAO Larry and myself met with the Minister to discuss a number of items. Unfortunately Councillor Sinclair was unable to attend.

Muchalaht Drive Paving,
Discussion was on the plan and timeline for repaving or repairing major areas of Muchalaht Drive and Highway 28. The Minister replied there will be some work done this year and would look into as far as timeline
Her staff has already emailed back stating there will be patch work done this year and the schedule should be in place by mid April. She asked if there was specific areas that our Staff has indicated needed work to please contact them.

Web Cam 
We discussed the ongoing issue of the highway cam by Crest lake not working, especially during the winter time. As it is solar powered it is very difficult to keep functioning. The Minister is going to look into to see if there is newer technology for it, or possibly moving it. Council discussed it’s not doing our community any good if it doesn’t work in the winter.

Speed reader
I asked the Minister some time ago about the possibility of having a speed reader installed on the highway as you enter Gold River to encourage drivers to slow down. The Department of Transportation has been here and determined the location, the design is now completed and the project should be completed in May. The reader will be installed by the Information Centre.

Employer Health Tax
We discussed our displeasure for the Government regarding this. As this added cost for our Village is estimated to be $27,000.00 The Minister is going to discuss with other Ministers and see if there is an exception for small communities.

Community Forest License
We explained to the Minister that we were very happy to report to her that we have an Memorandum of understanding with the Mowachaht /Muchalaht to work together in achieving CFL. This is one of Councils Strategic Priorities and in our new Economic Development Plan.

Grants
Rural Dividend & Investment in Canada grant 
Council has applied for a grant for the water main replacement that is attached to the bridge. We believe the timeline for us to hear back on the grant for this project was in March of 2019. The Minister is going to look into for us.
We also discussed the Biosolids Processing faculty project. When Council first began looking at this project working with our engineers the project costs were approximately 
$600,000.00 we did receive a grant for most of the project, but since then the costs have almost tripled. We have put in for another grant which we have not heard back yet. We discussed with the Minister other ideas that we would possibly look at if we were not successful in the grant.

Funding for Highway Rescue Equipment-Volunteer Fire Departments
Council discussed with the Minister the high cost for replacing or purchasing of equipment for VFD on the small communities. When you consider that most of the equipment will only be used in highway rescue situations we feel it is unfair that we pay the full costs. For example we purchased a new jaws of life last year at a cost of $45,000.00. We believe a grant for $ 5000.00 -$10,000.00 every year to help offset the costs would be appropriate. We did mention to the Minister that this issue has been discussed at the UBCM meeting before, and we will look into presentation at this years meetings. We will continue to lobby Government about this issue.

Affordable housing/assisted living 
We brought the Minister up to date on the clean up work that the new owner of the Parkview Apartments is doing, and some of his future plans. We did discuss the high cost of demolition the he is looking at, and are looking at what we can do to help. I mentioned that I have had preliminary talks with the Executive Director for VIHA for North Island regarding an assisted living facility here in Gold River.

Councillor Stratton brought forward some issues with CMHC mortgages & new regulations on dual agencies. Some clients are finding It very difficult in getting mortgages on modular homes. The Minister is going to look into this issue at get back to us.

Councillor Patrick brought forward the Ministers new Clean Energy campaign, and some of her research she has looked into. The Minister was happy to hear that Councillor Patrick was interested in the plan.

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CBC Story On Gold River

March 15, 2019

CBC wrote a story on Gold River, here it is:

Gold River still reinventing its economy 20 years after mill closed

Megan Thomas · CBC News · Posted: Mar 14, 2019 3:00 AM PT

Gold River's mill days are firmly in the rearview mirror, but decaying buildings from that era down the road from the village are a constant reminder that pulp and paper built this town.

The mill is the reason Gold River exists in the middle of Vancouver Island, with road access to Nootka Sound on the island's west coast. The Tahsis Company that built it back in the 1960s built the houses, too.

"It was just an instant town," says Mayor Brad Unger.

The mill ran as a pulp operation and later produced paper as well. But in 1998 it shut down, eliminating 360 good paying jobs the village relied on.

It was the start of a new, and much more challenging, era for Gold River.

"It didn't happen immediately, but it wasn't long after the young people were leaving town ... house prices plummeted," Unger says.

During the boom days, Unger says the population topped 2,000 people. Now there are about 1,300.

In the two decades that have passed since the closure, the old mill site has changed hands several times.

Hopes for a new large-scale industrial business, including one that had a plan to burn Vancouver's garbage, didn't take.

But new owners purchased the site last year and have started to dismantle the remaining mill buildings.

"I look at this as a positive because if they are spending money to tear things down, they must be ready to have something in the future," Unger says.

The deep sea port next to the old mill site on Nootka Sound is the draw for the new ownership, West Coast Marine Terminals. It is tearing down the buildings to make room for a new marine storage and staging business.

One of the first projects could be storage of construction materials for the new LNG Canada plant further up the B.C. coast in Kitimat, says operations director  Kent O'Neill.

The old mill in Gold River is located at a deep sea port on Nootka Sound. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

"I've been working in this area for the last 17 years and driving by the old mill, it's kind of reminder of what was," he says. "It's kind of nice to have it taken down and moved out of the way and let the new stuff come in."

The new business will provide employment, O'Neill says, but not on the scale of the old mill.

Logging in the forests around Gold River is the main employer, along with aquaculture. The town council has also worked to secure wood supply for a small sawmill and a cedar shake mill that provide employment.

Coming technological upgrades such as high-speed internet — and maybe one day cellphone service — are also expected to help attract more home-based businesses.

But economic hopes are also pegged on tourism.

Behind the counter at the Clayworks Cafe and Gallery, Anita Lawrence and her husband Neil are part of that new economy. Their cafe is a hot spot for locals and tourists alike.

"I see an increase in visitor traffic of course every summer," Anita Lawrence says. "People are looking for outdoor adventure, they're looking for a beautiful landscape, they're wanting to do some camping and fishing."

Phillip Parkes, a school district principal, runs a highly regarded outdoor education program that has been drawing new families to Gold River. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

But making the shift from a resource-based economy is a challenge, she says.

"There's always these sort of questions about developing a tourism strategy and what comes first," she says. "There's always this fine play between who's going to come and set up shop, and then who's going to come and visit if there's no shop set up."

Just up the street at Gold River's high school, district principal Philip Parkes is thinking outside the classroom.

A decade ago he started an outdoor education program. It has helped attract new families to town and now it even draws International students from countries around the world.

The program injects money in Gold River's economy through homestays for the international students and hiring outdoor contractors.

"I think the transition from a resource-based community to a more modern community is an ongoing conversation and how we achieve that remains up for debate," he says.

Logging in the forests around Gold River is the main source of employment. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

But in Parkes mind, the natural beauty outside everyone's front door in Gold River is a key part of the conversation.

"It's just figuring out how we can attract people here and get them into the wilderness and and show them how beautiful this area is."

While work continues on the tourism front, construction activity at the old mill site is also encouraging, Mayor Unger says.

But no matter how that new business takes shape, he says Gold River doesn't plan to ever go back to being a one-company town.

"Every community now, especially your small resource ones, don't want that one big employer. Now we like to have three or four, employing 30 people, 40 people."

And he's confident Gold River has a lot to offer.

"One of our slogans is: It's all here, why aren't you?"

Listen to the complete radio documentary below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Claire Visits Gold River

March 15, 2019

I popped in to take a look at the fascinating array of science projects at Gold River Secondary School, brought to life under the guidance of award winning science teacher Katrina Kornylo. Olivia Stratton's project was about taste buds.

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B.C. Ferries Wants Your Input

March 13, 2019

B-C Ferries is looking for comments from the public as it moves forward with a plan to build five new ferries to replace four ships of the aging coastal fleet. The new vessels will potentially add capacity to runs between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island — replacing the queens of New Westminster, Alberni, Coquitlam and Cowichan that currently serve those routes. A news release from B-C Ferries says the ships should begin entering service by around 2025. B-C Ferries president and C-E-O Mark Collins says this is “an exciting time,” and the corporation wants to hear customers’ thoughts on accessibility, improved food options, better play areas, seating, or anything that could “improve the onboard experience.”

Congratulatins Dawn!

March 10, 2019

Years of hard training in the grueling game of Classic Rock Bingo has paid off for Dawn! (lol)  

Dawn was the big winner on Friday night of two tickets to see the Canucks on March 23rd.  For the last few months, all winners of Classic Rock Bingo were entered in the draw for these coveted tickets.   Hopefully Dawn can make her way to the Canucks dressing room and give the boys a pep talk (and a kick in the pants)   Sure would be nice to see Canuck playoff hockey one of these years!

Government Told To Take Action To Save Wild Salmon

March 10, 2019

A government-appointed council says British Columbia must take immediate action to increase wild salmon populations.

The Wild Salmon Advisory Council says in a report released Friday the provincial government must focus on “tangible, achievable, near-term actions” that address the immediate needs of wild salmon and their habitat.

The council’s 30-page report says the government should take on the role of the champion of wild salmon.

READ MORE: Federal court rules not screening B.C. farmed salmon for virus is unlawful

It says that despite billions of dollars in public and private investments over the past 30 years to protect, restore, enhance and manage B.C.’s wild salmon and steelhead populations, the stocks continue to weaken, with some at alarming rates.

“We heard at multiple times, and in many ways, that increasing wild salmon abundance is and should be a provincial government goal,” the report says. “We also heard repeatedly that the citizens of B.C., and particularly adjacent communities, must benefit directly from the public investment that will be required.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gold River Village Council- March 4

March 06, 2019

Gold River Village Council - March 4, 2019

Suzanne Trevis

Present at the regular council meeting were Mayor Brad Unger, Councillors Brenda Patrick, Rachel Stratton, Kirsty Begon and Joe Sinclair. Village Administrator, Larry Plourde was also present. There were twelve members of the public, and the press, in the gallery.Open Session is an opportunity for the public to ask questions of council. 

The press asked if there was any truth to the rumour that Grieg Seafoods was no longer bringing fish across the municipal dock. The mayor confirmed that they are currently without a contract and that Grieg is not using our wharf at the moment.  This could present a problem for our new council as they go in to budget talks.  Historically, Grieg Seafoods has contributed quite a large slice of the revenue generated at the wharf.

Terry Robertson asked whether the ‘hatchery presentation’ that had been on the agenda a month ago, then tabled, had ever taken place.  The Mayor confirmed that council had met with Mr Frame regarding the proposal, and had made a motion to work with the Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation if they wanted to partner on the project.  He went on to say the village was willing to look into a grant to do a feasibility study, however, the MMFN had indicated they were not interested at this time, and the idea is on hold.

The new RCMP Detachment Commander was on hand with a report on crime stats in the Nootka Sound area.  Sgt. Josh Wiese, who has been in Gold River since last summer, provided a handout with graphs comparing cases with previous years.  He explained that the detachment is responsible for all of the Nootka Sound area including Gold River, Tsaxana and Tahsis. Stats in Gold River are generally good.  Property crime is one of our biggest issues.  That being said there were no files in January, no files in February. “Then we had one in March, it was a massive increase,” he joked.  He said it is a big change for him, coming from a large area.  For example, Campbell River probably has over 10,000 files in the same 2 month period.

Our local RCMP do a lot of proactive work in the community.  ‘Crime prevention through social development’ sees them going in to schools, connecting with the youth and helping bring in productions like “Love Bomb”, a live production about human trafficking which took place last month.  They have also done fraud workshops at the seniors centre.  He went on to say they are a little short handed at the moment, but are expecting two new constables, one in early May, the other by late August.

The Mayor asked what the community’s most pressing issues are from an RCMP standpoint and without hesitation he said Mental Health Issues.  This is a big concern for the community as a whole and takes up a lot of resources, not just the RCMP.  It is also taxing for our clinic staff. The only mental health workers are part time out of Campbell River, and many of the people who need these resources do not have transportation. He went on to say that focus in the coming months will probably be on traffic safety.  He also mentioned the detachment’s plans to move ahead with their own building.  The federal government has purchased land behind the ambulance station in a move, he said, that will hopefully see shovels in the ground by the end of summer.

Following the presentation though, council was asked about the lease the RCMP currently have with the village.  Administrator Plourde explained that the RCMP entered into a new five year lease just last summer.  He went on to explain that prior to the land purchase the village had explained on more than one occasion that there were issues with the property.  It is not currently zoned for what they want to do, and it is in a development permit area.  According to the administrator their position on this was ‘these rules don’t apply to us’.

With no further questions from the public, council moved into the regular meeting and minutes from the Regular Council Meeting held February 19 were approved.

There were eleven Reports on the agenda tonight.  The first was from the Administrator regarding Cell Tower Siting Options.  Telus is willing to put us on the list for a tower this year, if that is what the community wants. However, the location has been shortlisted to two options; the site of Telus’ current tower on Trumpeter Drive, or on a site behind the Aquatic Centre that belongs to the Village. 

Doug Anostos from Telus was in the gallery and spoke to some of the questions that council had.  He explained that this go around Tahsis is also on the list for a tower, but coverage in Gold River would probably not reach Tsaxana at this time due to terrain issues. People are beginning to realize, though that we have to start somewhere.   There were a number of concerns regarding the pool site.  It is lower than the downtown area and a tower would probably have to be 5 - 10 metres higher (40m vs 30m at the Trumpeter Drive site).  There were concerns over liability issues if it was located on Village owned property, and with the eventual inclusion of internet options once broadband comes in, unfair advantage for competition claims may arise.  With all of these possible issues getting in the way, council eventually passed a motion to move ahead to a public hearing with only the Telus site on Trumpeter as a possible location.

The next report was an annual requirement for users of the Jack Christensen Centre.  The policy adopted in 2013 establishes guidelines for rental space at the JCC and includes specific requirements from community service / non-profit groups requesting space.  The following groups were granted use under these guidelines: GR Restorative Justice Society, GR Museum & Archives Society, GR Food Bank, GR Lions Club, & GR Junior Rangers. Staff had a request to move ahead with the purchase of a new photocopier for the Village Office.  The $12k item is currently in the five year plan for 2019, however as this years budget has not yet gone through, staff thought it prudent to get the go ahead first.  Council had no issues with the request. It was due to be done and the the quality of the current agenda was a perfect example of how bad the need is.

Local landowners Bill & Tracey Jennings had requested a burn permit to take care of some stumps and debris created when they cleared their land.  The village has a process, and there are many rules that have to be adhered to, including the need for the Fire Chiefs approval, before and during the event. Despite this, Councillor Patrick felt it necessary to once again, try and tell staff and the fire chief, how to do their jobs.  After a few minutes of this Councillor Sinclair finally jumped in and made a motion to approve the request, subject to the conditions outlined in the report. This, fortunately, passed with no further discussion.

Mayor Unger and all four Councillors submitted reports on their experiences at the 2019 Elected Officials Seminar that took place February 13-15.  Anyone wishing to read these can find them attached to the agenda on the village website, at the village office or in the Public Library. 

Councillor Patrick also submitted a report on her attendance at the Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting held Feb 21st.  This was the first meeting for the newly elected executive. Topics covered included:

•   Tourism - a stronger presence online, possible electric bikes for use in community

•   Economic Development - provide input with regards to training summer students at the info centre, distribute a questionnaire  to identify services their membership provides and how the GRCC can assist them.

•   The ‘Boot’ at the Info Centre - identify what information should be on a plaque explaining the boot.

•   Gold River Days - GRCC will host the soap box derby again, they need members to help organize the parade, need to find out if atv’s can participate in the parade.

There was a separate sheet outlining ideas for tourism from Councillor Patrick that included: caving helmets and lights for visitors to borrow from the info centre; bicycles, possibly electric bikes, that could be rented out by tourists to get around town; ATV routes within village boundaries; more youtube videos promoting the area; and off season events in our recreational facilities, such as carpet bowling etc. The Mayor asked her to price up any items that were being considered and to bring ideas to the budget meeting scheduled for next week.

The last report came from Councillor Stratton on the status of the Economic Development Committee.  They met three times in February.  Some of the items under discussion include: students working at the Info Centre - better training and continuity throughout the community; ways to promote our trail assets; other ideas in the works include an information kiosk in the downtown area, wifi hot spots, community event calendars and rebranding of the community as a whole.  They are also working with the owners of the Village Square Plaza to remove the planters and, with the aid of volunteers, do a general cleanup and possibly some painting.  She concluded her report by saying they are a ‘very enthusiastic group with lots of energy and ideas!’.

Under Council Information Items it was reported that VIU, Master of Community Planning student Sarah Holden, will be hosting an open house Thursday, March 7 from 6:30 - 8pm at the Village Office for a review of the Official Community Plan Development Permit Area (our downtown core). All members of the public are welcome to attend.

There were two items of correspondence - both were forwarded on.

-   A letter regarding safe needle disposal options was sent on to the clinic

-   A letter from the Merville Water Guardians regarding protection of groundwater from bulk carriers was forwarded to AVICC (the Association of Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities).

We then moved into Question Period.  This is an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions about items that came up on the agenda.

Patti Linde asked about the atv access which prompted discussion, but no real answers. The press asked that the village post whatever regulations they find on the village website so that everyone could be aware of what they are.

The press also asked about a village facebook page that had been referenced a few times, and was told the village now has a presence on Facebook under the name ‘Heber Gold’.

Terry Robertson asked about the RCMP contract and the Administrator advised that they had entered into a new five year lease with the village last summer (2018).

Mr Robertson also asked who ‘Castle Rock Developments’ were as they were shown as the adjacent property owners next to the proposed cell tower site at the Aquatic Centre.  The Mayor and the Administrator went on to explain that a number of parcels of land around the community, including  the Peppercorn Trail, the lot between deep hole and the high school, the lot surrounding the Mobile Home Park and a number of ribbons of land along roadways and around the edge of the community, that had previously belonged to Western Forest Products, had been sold off to a private developer some time ago, without the village’s knowledge.  The village found out some time after the fact and were justifiably quite upset with WFP for not giving the Municipality first option at these properties.

Linda Vandenburg asked for clarification on the decision regarding the cell tower and was advised that council/Telus will proceed with a public meeting that only allows the Trumpeter Drive site as a possible location.

With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.

The next Council Meeting will take place Monday, March 18 at 7pm

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