Scribbler Article Submission
SIRRA (Saturna Island Rate Payers and Residents Association)
On Thursday January 30th, 2020, SIRRA representatives Michel Chiasson, President; Ron Hall, Treasurer; and Helen Wale, Director met with MLA Adam Olsen.
Mr. Olsen was very receptive to our concerns and we engaged in positive dialogue.
We discussed two topics: the condition of Saturna’s roads and the accountability and governance of the Islands Trust.
We discussed the challenges around Harris Road’s condition and further access to the emergency services telecommunications located on the tower at Mount Warburton Pike (accessed through Staples Road).
SIRRA’s position is that Harris road does not only need to be repaired but rather, needs to be completely re-engineered as it often presents an active hazard. Documentation supporting the dangers involved was presented to MLA Olsen.
In further discussion, we highlighted the state of Tumbo Channel, Cliffside and Narvaez Bay Roads as streets in need of urgent repair.
MLA Olsen indicated that black top asphalt was not likely to be an option that could be pursued for these roads as the estimated cost is in the range of $1 million per kilometer. However he felt that if the Saturna community was open to discussion around surface options, this was something he could pursue with the Ministry of Transportation.
The options discussed were hard compact on parts of Narvaez Bay Rd with the balance of Narvaez and all of Cliffside and Tumbo Channel being chip seal. Chip seal is a pavement surface treatment that combines one or more layer(s) of asphalt with one or more layer(s) of fine aggregate. Chip seals are typically used on rural roads carrying lower traffic volumes and can be completed at a much lower cost than re-surfacing with asphalt. .
It was suggested that individual letters from Saturna community members to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (Claire Trevena) would be beneficial (letters to be copied to ICBC and MLA Olsen).
SIRRA will have a draft letter available on our website available late March. We will develop several bullet points for community members to draft their own letters around the road’s issues. To have the maximum impact, your letter should be printed and signed and mailed to the Minister. It cannot be over emphasized the greater impact that a signed letter has as opposed to an email.
We are also considering preparing a petition document for residents and ratepayers signatures which will be presented to the Minister.
MLA Olsen said he would participate in a community meeting sometime in the near future where the options for alternative surfaces for the Saturna roads could be discussed.
It is important that Saturna residents report any perceived hazards while driving on our Island’s roads to EMCON Services 24HR Road Hazard Reporting Line: 1 866 353 3136. Perceived hazards may include: potholes, broken asphalt, flooding, and wash boarding to name a few.
SIRRA expressed concerns on the transparency and accountability of the Islands Trust. Discussions surrounded concerns with governance in operations at the Island Trust, e.g. the escalating spending on renovations for the Island Trust Oak Bay office.
MLA Olsen advised that the Auditor General for Local Government wanted to include the Island Trust in the broader audit arrangements for local government in BC. We stated that we supported this initiative and would promote any changes in current practices.
MLA Olsen suggested that again, a letter writing campaign would be helpful. These should be addressed to Selina Robinson, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing with a copy to Adam Olsen.
Once again, we will prepare a draft document outlining talking points that will underscore the need for the Islands Trust accountability under the Auditor General as this will ensure not only a review of the Islands Trust financial practice but will include a performance review of the Islands Trust as well.
We have also sent the Islands Trust a letter regarding the Islands Trust Budget 2020/2021 in response to their seeking consultation. You will find this posted on the SIRRA website.
Our website is undergoing a refresh and will be available for viewing mid-March. In the meantime both our Facebook page and current website are sources of information and the templates for letters to the Ministers will be available by the end of March.