Happy Summer, Everyone!

Hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful sunshine and warmer temperatures.  Here’s what OPSRRA has been up to since our last report in April…

2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Our Annual General meeting on April 14, 2019, was well attended with over 41 in attendance. We were pleased to host a special panel on emergency services during fire events including Jeri Grant coordinator, CRD Emergency Services, and John McCrea, Otter Point Fire Department Chief, as well as Mike Hicks, JdF Director who provided updates on a number of issues including re-examining Bylaw 2040 relating to vacation rentals in our communities.

JdF Director Mike Hicks

As part of the AGM, the reformulation of OPSRRA’s membership structure was ratified from the current $10 for lifetime (associate or regular) membership to $10 for a five-year membership. A new operational budget was introduced to ensure long-term fiscal health. 

Our membership drives continue to be successful, increasing our fold by over 20 residents (4.5% growth) since the last AGM, for a total of 463 members. A copy of the Annual President’s Report for the 2019 AGM is also on our website. We are also pleased to announce the appointment of the following directors (and contact emails) to the OPSRRA board:

  • Bill Dushenko (returning as president – president@opsrra.ca; 250-642-4343)
  • Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman (returning as vice-president – vpresident@opsrra.ca)
  • Fiona McDannold (returning as member at large – secretary@opsrra.ca)
  • Diane Foster (returning as treasurer – treasurer@opsrra.ca)
  • James Gaston (our new communications director – communications@opsrra.ca)
  • Tim Crow (our new membership director – membership@opsrra.ca)

James is a seven-year resident of Otter Point. Previously he was a silicon valley software engineer as well as a chemistry teacher.

We still have an available opening for one additional director, so if you or someone you know is interested or would like more information, please contact us at president@opsrra.ca. For a description of director roles click here (pdf).

Board Retreat

Your OPSRRA board held its annual retreat on Saturday May 4, 2019 to orient our new directors and roles, discuss operational issues and do some planning for the fiscal year. The board decided to use this as a “building year” and not take on any new planned projects, but rather revisit this at a future town hall meeting with membership in January 2020. 

We will also be updating the membership list to ensure membership numbers accurately reflect the number of members we actually have, continuing our membership drive and rallying volunteers, implementing the new OPSRRA fee structure for members, cleaning up our on-line filing system, exploring additional fund-raising opportunities, continuing advocating for updates to Bylaw 2040 (discussed below), completing our work on community signage and notice boards, and planning for a federal all-candidate’s meeting in early fall 2019. Enough said!

On-going Community Welcome Sign and Notice Boards Maintenance

You may have noticed that our existing community “welcome signs” along Otter Point and West Coast Road are popping out at you a lot more these days thanks to the wonderful painting touch-up work by one of our members and former director, Brenda Mark (thanks, Brenda!) with the help of James Gaston (our new communications director) and Gerard LeBlanc.

Brenda Mark freshening a welcome sign

We would also like to thank Murray Tomkins, Arnie Campbell and Bob Phillips for their hard work in setting up and maintaining our existing community welcome information boards over the years, as well as James Gaston for assisting Arnie on his most recent maintenance rounds (thanks, gentlemen!) If you would like to volunteer and help these wonderful people out with this important work, please contact membership@opsrra.ca.

Community information boards

Zoning Bylaw 2040 and Renter Complaints

Some of you may recall from our April report, that we have been monitoring the issue re: long-term rentals in our communities and the need for either a new zoning by-law or updating the existing old Bylaw 2040 (only addressing B&B’s, outside of commercial zoning).

More up-to-date language and definitions as well as regulations for short-term or vacation rentals is badly needed. In addition to sending a letter to our CRD Director, Mike Hicks re: this issue; we were pleased to hear Mike addressing this at our AGM.

Since the AGM, we also have been copied on a couple of concerns from our residents expressed to CRD about excessive party noise and traffic from renters on Trailhead in Jordan River where the property owner is not on site. There are undoubtedly other incidences in our communities as well, where residents may be afraid to speak up.

OPSRRA supports property owners in our communities being able to supplement their income by home-sharing, operating a bed and breakfast or other home-based business, including vacation rental use. However, we do maintain it’s important to have clearly-worded language, definitions, and regulations that will protect everyone in our communities.

In the meantime, if you have any concerns or complaints about neighbouring renters, please don’t be afraid to contact the local CRD (250-642-8100 or email: ilawrence@crd.bc.ca). In the case of emergency or safety issues, please contact the Sooke RCMP (250-642-5241). We would also appreciate it if you could copy us on any correspondence at president@opsrra.ca.

Clark Road Soil Deposition Monitoring Follow-up

At the request of OPSRRA members at our AGM, we’ve been following up on soil deposit activities by the owner (Granite Resources) on Site 42 on Clarke Rd. with the CRD. Concerns were expressed by neighbours on how much longer soil transport to the site would be going on for and whether amounts and quality of fill were being properly monitored.

Although this couldn’t be directly confirmed by the CRD Director at the AGM, our follow-up correspondence with Iain Lawrence (Manager, JdF Electoral Area Planning) confirmed that hauling under the permit was complete; and regular monitoring detected treated wood (volatile contaminants) in one stockpile and high arsenic in another sample, which were subsequently marked for removal from the site. OPSRRA should be receiving additional information from the monitoring, once received by CRD.

We were also notified by CRD that the developer will be starting road works under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), and that hauling of road-based material would be occurring on a “as-needed” basis, albeit at a much lower scale than the CRD soil permit, as well as paving operations. OPSRRA has contacted MOTI to verify that proper procedure is being followed by the developer in keeping local residents informed of what’s to come in terms of road materials being trucked in (amounts etc.) and when, their disruption is minimized (in terms of timing etc.), and human and environmental safety (e.g., clean road fill) is assured.

OPSRRA has received a response from Nikki Schneider at MOTI that the plans are still under review, and have not yet received preliminary approval. Although the Ministry currently does not have information pertaining to the exact road construction details, all construction is required to be to the Ministry’s standards and specifications. The Ministry also notes that the proponent is responsible for determining their work schedule for hauling materials to complete road construction. However, should there be any safety concerns in regards to this work, the public is encouraged to contact the Ministry. They will investigate the concern and determine the necessary course of action to ensure that public safety is maintained.

Pre-election Presentation to the Board

David Merner

David Merner, Green Party candidate for the Federal riding of Esquimalt – Saanich – Sooke attended the OPSRRA board meeting and asked the question – what are the important issues for our members in the region?

Transportation challenges and the climate crisis were widely discussed as were concerns about a lack of high speed internet in the region and isolation (no phones, no cell coverage, no emergency alerts or updates) particularly in times of emergency. Also discussed was the overall health of the ocean and forest. David has agreed to speak to our membership at OPSRRA’s All Candidates Meeting on September 29th.

Jordan River (JR) Welcome Signage Update

We are pleased to announce that Camosun College is in progress on building the Welcome sign for Jordan River. Their wood-working students (see picture of students and staff mid-project) have been commissioned to put together and complete our new wooden welcome signage. We hope to have these completed by early August and are working with MOTI in setting up their placement.

Camosun College wood-working students and staff

Many thanks to our directors Cheryl Wirch-Ryckman (VP), Diane Foster (treasurer), Tim Crow (our new membership director) and Murray Tomkins for coaching, coordinating and helping to move this important project along. And of course our thanks to BC Hydro, Mike Hicks and Queesto, without their support, the new signage would not be possible.

CRD Parks Land Acquisition Strategy Update

OPSRRA received correspondence from Beatrice Frank, Visitor Service Social Science Specialist on May 22 at CRD noting that they’re wrapping up the consultation stage of the project and preparing a two-year land acquisition strategy (2020-2021) to present to the CRD Parks and Environmental Committee in the fall.

They are also working on incorporating the local knowledge, recreation values, and public interests data collected through the project into a longer term land acquisition framework (2022-2032). The results of this process will form the foundation for a future parkland acquisition strategy, provided the Regional Parks Land Acquisition Fund is extended past 2019.

Volunteers Requested for OPSRRA Membership Drive

We are continuing our membership drive and setting up information booths at select community activities this summer, and need volunteers to help us staff these. If you’re interested in participating in some capacity, please contact us at membership@opsrra.ca.

Happy summer, everyone!!!

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