Hello everyone! We hope you are all enjoying the warm summer weather which has finally arrived!

This is the first of a series of quarterly reports from your duly-elected board through our newsletter to keep you better informed of issues and associated activities we have been working on behalf of our communities.

We wanted to kick-start this edition with introducing you to each of our six directors who were elected in at our AGM back in April…

Your OPSRRA Board(L to R): Bill Dushenko (President), Wendy Morton (Newsletter Editor), Sandy Barta (Membership/Webmaster/Publisher), Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman (Vice President), Alexander (mascot), Fiona McDannold (Director), Brenda Mark (Treasurer).

Bill Dushenko (President)  Contact:250-642-4343/opsrra@gmail.com

Bill has been a homeowner in Otter Point (Tugwell Rd.) since 2005 and a director on the board since 2015. He is an adjunct professor in environmental science/management and sustainable development at RRU teaching both domestically and in China, as well as an educational/organizational consultant. Bill also loves to garden and hobby farm, raising chickens, turkeys and ducks with his partner; as well as a camping and sharing their lives with three beautiful dogs.

Wendy Morton (Newsletter and Calendar Editor)Contact: wendymorton@shaw.ca

Wendy has lived in Otter Point for 44 years. She grows a spectacular organic garden with her partner. Wendy is a poet, having received many awards, the most recent of which is the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General for her projects which have brought honour to Canada.  She is also a raven watcher.

Sandy Barta (Membership/Publisher)

Sandy arrived in Otter Point in a wind storm in 2000 and became an OPSRRA Director not long after. She began her OPSRRA life by helping with the infant web page and eventually became responsible for it. Her other duties include managing membership records, the Google account (remember the surveys?), and the Mailchimp account. Sandy enjoys the rural, wooded property she lives on and shares with three goofy llamas and an elderly cat.

Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman (Vice President)

Cheryl heard “Go West young woman” and got as far as Vancouver Island. In prep for the best years of her life, she and her husband bought a tract of land in Jordan River to build their home with a view. Cheryl works with businesses across the capital region at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and, when not helping to build the business community, she fights the good fight against a never-ending supply of broom along with her wonder-dog Coco.

Fiona McDannold (Director)Contact: 250-646-2730

Originally from Victoria where she and her husband Guy raised their 3 children, Fiona has lived in Shirley since 2007 and has been an OPSRRA director since 2009.  She sits on the Shirley/Jordan River APC, is a member of the Shirley Women’s Institute, was president of the Shirley Community Association from 2009-2017 and volunteers with other community organizations. She enjoys her garden and spends much of her time in her weaving studio.

Brenda Mark (Treasurer)Contact: 250-646-2598

Brenda has lived in the area since 1973; currently in Shirley.  She has been an OPSRRA Director since 2009.  Brenda is a retired RN, having worked at VGH for 30 years.  She is a steward for Jordan River Regional Park and sits on the Shirley/Jordan River APC. She values highly the natural beauty that surrounds her and the endless outdoor and recreational opportunities keep her, partner Gerard, sheepdog Alexander, cats Raphael and Persia active, healthy and happy.

Following our board meeting in May, the directors held their first retreat on June 4 (2017) to do some development work and planning for this year.  Some of the community issues we will be addressing include the following:

  • working with the province (through our MLA), CRD and other agencies to tackle road safety and access issues along highway 14 in our communities (a particularly hot topic of debate in our communities and Sooke these past few weeks);
  • getting community signage installed for Jordan River, and monitoring any future development plans for the townsite;
  • following up on one of the recommendations of the water sustainability report conducted by the RRU B.Sc. student team we “commissioned” last year, working with CRD and the province (through our MLA) to initiate a groundwater aquifer study in our three communities as part of understanding sustainable water supplies;
  • continuing to support community members wishing to champion clean-up of illegal dumping sites and working with CRD to support education in this regard; and
  • reviving OPSRRA’s newsletter and community calendar in a revolving blog format.

This list, of course, is not exclusive/exhaustive and we encourage our OPSRRA members to bring any other important community issues to our attention using any of the contact information provided above.

Another important issue is OPSRRA’s membership which, although remaining relatively stable at around 440 full and associate members these past few years, needs to be expanded given:

  • that our current long-term members are not immortal, and
  • the number of new residents (and younger demographic) that have moved into our communities over the past number of years – many of who are not aware of OPSRRA and its important role in our communities.

To this end, we are also going to be conducting an active OPSRRA membership drive this year including developing new brochures/posters for distribution, articles in local newspapers (e.g., Sooke Mirror), and setting up booths at local community activities (e.g., Shirley Day). You can also help us in this our drive by:

  • speaking with and encouraging your neighbours to join (if they’re not already members),
  • circulating our new OPSRRA brochures, and
  • helping us at booths at community events.

We really want this to be a banner year for OPSRRA and its communities, but we can’t do it without your help and involvement. If you wish to volunteer your time and assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us at opsrra@gmail.com.

Have a great and safe summer everyone!!!!

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